Apple Intros Thinner, Faster iPad

iPad Air 2 Is 18% Skinner Than First iPad Air, Adds 802.11ac
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Apple has introduced the iPad Air 2, a next-gen tablet that is 18% thinner than the original iPad Air.

The new, svelte tablet, powered by a second-gen 64-bit A8X chip with 3 billion transistors, is 6.1 millimeters wide and features a new coating that reduces reflection by 56%, the company said.

The iPad Air 2 also bakes in 802.11ac WiFi with MIMO, supporting up to 866 Mbps throughput, and up to 20 LTE bands, supporting speeds up to 150 Mbps.

The WiFi-only version of the iPad Air 2 starts at $499 (16 Gigabytes), then moves to $599 with 64 GB, and $699 with 128 GB. Models with on-board cellular and the same memory configurations sell for $629, $729 and $829, respectively

Apple also introduced the iPad Mini 3, which features a 7.9-inch display and starts at $399.

The iPad Air and iPad Mini 3 come in silver, space gray and gold. Preorders on the products start Friday (October 17), and begin to ship by the end of next week.

Speaking during Thursday’s new product event, Apple CEO Tim Cook said Apple has sold 225 million iPad units so far. “We’ve sold more iPads in first four years than any product in our history,” he said.

Despite that big number, Apple's new iPads are being launched as shipments show signs of slowing and competitors continue to loosen Apple's grip on the tablet market. According to a  survey of 10,000 U.S. homes with broadband, Parks Associates found that 16% have an Amazon tablet and 14% have one from Samsung, while Apple’s share has dropped from 46% in the first quarter of 2012 to about 37%. Parks Associates estimates that more than 60% of U.S. homes with broadband also have a tablet.

Nothing New On The Apple TV Front

And if you are waiting for Apple to freshen up its Apple TV product or introduce that mythical TV set, you’ll have to wait a bit longer as Apple had nothing new to announce in that category.

However, Apple’s new iMac will provide plenty of eye candy thanks to a new “5K” Retina display that packs 14.7 million pixels. The new iMac, equipped with a 27-inch screen, costs $2,499 and starts to ship today.