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Apple Watch: Allure of thin Air for new iPads

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An Apple employee holds up the new iPad Air in San Francisco.
An Apple employee holds up the new iPad Air in San Francisco.

Apple today announced the 'iPad Air'. The latest generation of iPad features a 9.7-inch Retina display in a new thinner and lighter design. Weighing less than half a kilogram, the new iPad Air is 20 per cent thinner and 28 per cent lighter than the fourth generation iPad, and has a 43 per cent narrower bezel meaning the borders of iPad Air are dramatically thinner too.

Despite all that, it's more powerful. The new power-efficient A7 chip allows the battery to be even smaller, helping reduce overall volume by 24 per cent compared to the previous generation. Performance has doubled but up to 10-hour battery life has been maintained.

The Apple-designed A7 chip uses the 64-bit desktop-class architecture that first showed up in the iPhone 5c, and the Air has expanded 4G LTE cellular connectivity.

Strangely, though, New Zealand has had its prices confirmed by Apple but we have no on-sale date. We're conspicuously absent from this otherwise comprehensive list, and
Apple confirms that is so:

The US, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China (Wi-Fi models only), Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao (Wi-Fi models only), Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK all get it November 1.

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Here are the announced New Zealand prices for when we do get it: iPad Air with Wi-Fi models will be available in silver or space grey for recommended retail prices of:

NZD$749 inc. GST for the 16GB model, NZD$899 for the 32GB model, NZD$1049 for the 64GB model and NZD$1199 for the 128GB model.

iPad Air with Wi-Fi + Cellular will have recommended retail prices of NZD$949 for the 16GB model, NZD$1099 for the 32GB model, NZD$1249 for the 64GB model and NZD$1399 for the 128GB model.

iPad 2 will still available: NZD$579 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model and NZD$779 for the 16GB Wi-Fi + 3G model.

Also announced was the iPad mini with Retina display. This has all the pixels of the 9.7-inch iPad but on a smaller 7.9-inch screen for razor sharp text and detail.

This will be available later in November (in the US, anyway) in silver or space grey.

iPad mini with Retina display Wi-Fi models will be available for a recommended retail price of NZ$599 inc. GST for the 16GB model, NZD$749 for the 32GB model, NZ$899 inc. GST for the 64GB model and NZD$1049 for the 128GB model. iPad mini with Retina display Wi-Fi + Cellular models will be available for a recommended retail price of NZ$799 for the 16GB model, NZ$949 for the 32GB model, NZ$1099 for the 64GB model and NZ$1249 inc. GST for the 128GB model.

Additionally, the original iPad mini has had a price drop to NZD$450 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model and NZ$649 for the 16GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model.

New custom-designed polyurethane Smart Covers for iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display will be available for NZ$59 inc. GST in a range of vibrant colours, including blue, green, pink, yellow, black and (RED).

iPad Air Smart Cases and iPad mini Smart Cases are have been redesigned in aniline-dyed leather available in six rich colours: yellow, beige, blue, brown, black and (RED) for a recommended retail price of NZ$129 for iPad Air and NZ$119 for iPad mini. Smart Covers and Smart Cases will be available through the Apple Online Store and select Authorised Apple Resellers.

New iLife apps for iOS were announced simultaneously, and these were major updates to iLife apps for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch (and the Mac).

Along with new icons, iPhoto for iPad lets Photo Books be composed directly on the iPad, a feature previously limited to the Mac version.

iMovie for iOS now includes "desktop class effects" like picture-in-picture.

Garageband for iOS now supports 16 tracks on all devices (and up to 32 tracks on 64-bit devices like the iPhone 5s; previously limited to 8 tracks).

Meanwhile, Apple made the rather startling announcement that the 'full-increment' Mac OS 10 upgrade from 10.8 to 10.9 Mavericks is free. That's the first time I can recall a full increment Mac OS being free - in fact it was only a few years ago I'd stump up around $200 for the privilege.

It means it lives up to its name as this will shake up the software market. Why? Microsoft gets 96 per cent of its revenue from software - OS and productivity. Suddenly, one of its greatest competitors has gone free.

I've already installed OS 10.9, immediately noticing a three-times-faster boot up time, but with over 200 changes, it deserves a story of its own. That will show up here soon.

New Macs were announced too - no new Apple TV, no 'iWatch', no Apple Television. But the new Macs look exciting: thinner, with the Haswell CPU as expected and more.

New Mac Pro will be available to buy by the end of the year. The base model of the new Mac Pro will start at NZ$4999 and ship by the end of the year. That's cheaper than I thought it would be.

This base pricing includes a 3.7GHz quad-core Xeon processor, 12GB of DRAM, Dual FirePro D300 graphics, 2GB VRAM each, and a 256GB 22D.

Apple will also release new versions of Final Cut Pro and Aperture that support 4k and other features of the new Mac Pro.

The new Mac Pro can be ordered with the latest Xeon processors in Quad 6, 8, or 12-core configurations, dual station FirePro GPUs with up to 12GB of GDDR5 VRAM, 4K video support, PCIe-based flash, ECC memory and six Thunderbolt 2 ports.

Apple also noted today that it aimed to have the new Mac Pro running as quietly as the current Mac Mini - and has achieved that.

The all-new Mac Pro will be available in December through the Apple Online Store and select Apple Authorised Resellers.

With a 3.5 GHz 6-core Intel Xeon E5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.9GHz, dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs with 3GB of VRAM each, 16GB of memory, and 256GB of PCIe-based flash storage, our recommended retail price is NZ$6599.

Apple has announced an upgrade to the 15-inch model with much improved graphics processors, a new Intel Quad-Core processing system, improved battery life (up to 8 hours), and the new 802.11ac WiFi standard.

Apple also announced a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. It is both thinner and lighter than the previous generation and can run 9 hours on a single charge. The new laptop also has new graphics and faster PCIe-based flash (60% faster), faster, 802.11ac WiFi and Thunderbolt 2.

There's more detail on these on macnz.

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