Today's the day the iPad Air goes on sale, and I came very close to clicking the Buy button this morning on Apple's site. I'll likely go for it, especially once I've had a chance to see one. If you're interested in the 16GB entry-level model, the best deal is at Walmart, where you can get a discount of $20, making the price $479. Plus, 9To5Mac is reporting that Best Buy, Staples, and Apple will all match this price reduction. The Best Buy and Apple offer is in-store only so far, whereas Walmart and Staples list the $479 price online.
T-Mobile continues to move ahead with giving customers great options. A couple days ago they announced a free data plan, and now, according to 9To5Mac, they've announced they'll be offering, for a limited time, the new iPads for $0 down and 24 months of payments. The monthly cost for their 16GB iPad Air with cellular data connectivity will be $26.25 per month and $22.08 per month for the retina iPad mini with cellular connectivity. It's almost like getting an iPad for free. For example, if you were to go with a 16GB Verizon iPad Air, you'd pay $630 for the device and $20/month for 1GB of data. With T-Mobile, you'll pay $26/month for your iPad and get 200MB of data per month for free. If you can get by with 200MB of data, the monthly charge isn't that much different from Verizon's, so in a sense you're getting the iPad for free.
I like free. And that's what T-Mobile is charging for their base iPad data plan for new customers, according to Apple's website. You get 200MB per month. What happens if you go over that limit? It's not yet known, but they'll be holding a press conference today to give more details. You can check out their network coverage here to see if this might be a good option for you. Apple's page also shows the rates for the other three major carriers. AT&T starts at $14.99 for 250MB. Sprint's price is also $14.99, but you get 1GB of data per month. That's certainly the best deal if you need more than 200MB. Verizon's base plan had been $30 for 2GB, but they're now offering 1GB for $20.
Once more, Apple has created a lot of excitement with their event today announcing new products. Perhaps the biggest surprises were the availability of the new version of the Mac OS (Mavericks) for free, the availability of the iWork suite (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) for free with the purchase of a new device, the higher price on the iPad mini, the speedy A7 64-bit chip for the mini, and the new name for the iPad: the iPad Air. Apple's move toward free software is unprecedented in the industry.
I still can't get over the fact that Apple raised the price on the mini. They almost always introduce the new model at the same price as before. So the lineup as they head into the holiday season for the low-end 16GB WiFi models is: $299 for the iPad mini, $399 for the iPad mini with retina display, $399 for the iPad 2 (which they're continuing to sell as their low-end iPad), and $499 for the iPad Air. Price wise, I think the best deal is the new iPad Air, and I can imagine it'll be a big seller.
The rumors were all over the place regarding the iPad mini, with some saying it would have a higher resolution display and others saying that the technology wasn't ready and that the retina iPad mini was being postponed. So the good news, just announced, is that indeed there will be a new iPad mini with retina display, with 2,048x1,36 pixels. The form factor is basically the same, but the colors are new: silver and space gray. The big surprise is that the mini now has the speedy A7 64-bit processor. CPU tasks are up to four times faster and graphics tasks are up to eight times faster than the previous generation mini. It also has the new M7 coprocessor.
As was rumored, Apple has just announced a new 9.7-inch iPad — the fifth generation of this model. And it has a new name: iPad Air. It's the lightest full-sized tablet computer in the world. It has a form factor similar to the iPad mini, with narrower bezels left and right making the device overall a bit narrower. It's also thinner and lighter. The previous iPad was 1.4 pounds, compared to 1 pound for the iPad Air. The previous iPad was 9.4 mm thick, and the iPad Air is 7.5 mm.
Also today Apple introduced new versions of the iWork suite for both iOS and the Mac. The applications have been completely rewritten from the ground up for the Mac, and of course the new versions take advantage of the 64-bit processing of the new iOS devices. And all three include lots of amazing new features.
Apple has announced new versions of the iLife apps: Garage Band, iMovie, and iPhoto. All now have a new look for iOS 7, and all have some great new features, including desktop-class effects for iMovie.