Pricing ranges from $499 to $929 for the new full-size iPad and $399 to $829 for the new iPad mini.
Starting our fourth decade: Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously online for 30 years

iPad and iPad mini
APPLE TRIMMED the weight and thickness of the full-size iPad, at left, and gave the iPad mini a Retina display, at right.

Apple's new iPads max out at $929; even iPad mini can hit $829

October 27, 2013

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2013, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2013, The Post-Standard

Apple introduced new iPads this week. Pricing ranges from $499 to $929 for the new full-size iPad and $399 to $829 for the new iPad mini, based on built-in storage and connection options.

The full-size iPad is faster, thinner and lighter than the previous model. The mini's new feature is a high-resolution display that matches the detail and sharpness of the Retina screen in the full-size model.

Apple calls the new full-size model the iPad Air. The company stopped numbering iPad models a couple of generations back, but the Air would be the iPad 5 by the old numbering system. The standard-resolution iPad 2 and the original mini will be sold alongside the new models, at $399 to $529 for the iPad 2 and $299 to $429 for the original mini, depending on storage and connectivity.

iPads with just Wi-Fi cost the least. Models that have added 3G connections cost more to buy and incur monthly charges for cellular connectivity. Storage costs extra beyond the usual 16GB minimum. Because memory chips are soldered in and iPads are not designed to be opened, adding storage after the sale is very difficult.

Apple's new iPads will face brisk competition from Android tablets in the run-up to the holiday shopping season. Android tablets, which usually sell for much less than iPads, had nearly 70 percent of the market as of mid-2013. Android's open design -- any company can make an Android tablet -- gives it the edge in storage, too. Many Android tablets have card slots that can hold 32GB or more of extra capacity.

Apple's biggest tablet advantage is its slick design and impeccable screen display, and the iPad's obvious main disadvantage is cost. With sales slipping, Apple's reluctance to reduce prices could turn out to be a mistake.

Apple also introduced sleeker MacBook Pro models and released an improved version of the Mac operating system, OS X, called Mavericks. It's a free upgrade through the Mac App Store. Apple also said its productivity software suite, iWork, is now free for all new Mac, iPad and iPhone buyers. An uodated iLife suite is also free for new buyers.

A major problem with Mavericks surfaced as I was writing this column. Mavericks handles Gmail badly, according to reports that I trust. If you use Apple's Mail software to work with Gmail, you probably should hold off upgrading to Mavericks until Apple fixes the problem. This may take months. You could also switch to doing all your Gmail on the web, using a web browser.