Apple (AAPL) announces iPad Mini at higher price than expected, new iPad, iMac and MacBook Pro too

The long-awaited iPad Mini was announced Tuesday, with a starting price of $329 for the 16 GB version. 

The iPad Mini is an all anodized aluminum design, like the recently released iPhone 5. It's small enough to fit in your hand - 7.9 inches across and weighs .68 pounds - about as much as a pad of paper, according to officials at the unveiling. 

However, criticism started swiftly among the technology blogosphere. The starting price point of $329 seemed high when compared to competitors like the Kindle Fire ($160), Kindle Fire HD ($200),  and the Nexus 7 16 GB ($250). Many commentators thought the lack of a retina display and lower screen resolution than the iPad 3 and the fourth generation iPad would mean a more significant difference in price.

A new generation of the MacBook Pro, iMac and iPad were also announced, which were better received in initial reactions.

The new MacBook Pro may be the biggest surprise of the event. It's just 3/4 of an inch and a little over 3.5 pounds  – almost a pound lighter than the previous generation. Of course, it comes with the now-standard retina display which helps it achieve four times the number of pixels than previous generation. It's the second highest resolution notebook – Apple's 15″ MacBook is the highest.  The MacBook Pro starts at $1,699. In an online poll,  61 percent of CNET viewers think the new MacBook is too pricey. 

Apple's announcement of the new iMac had the best reception when considering early online reaction because it is "unbelievably thin," as described during the Apple event. In an online poll, 32 percent of CNET viewers said they were already pulling out their credit cards for either the 21.5-inch iMac, starting at $1299 (shipping in November) or the 27-inch iMac, starting at $1,799 (shipping in December). 

The fourth generation iPad model starts at $499 and replaces the iPad 3. The iPad 2 remains on sale for $399. The new iPad was described as a "powerhouse" due to its faster performance (double for CPU tasks and graphics) than the previous iPad. It has a 10-hour battery life, Facetime HD and Wi-Fi connections up to twice as fast as the old iPad.

Non-hardware announcements included an interesting new drive option for new Mac computers. Apple's new Fusion drive takes the best of both worlds between a Flash and a HDD drive. A new Mac would choose how to save each piece of information depending on your needs, which helps both capacity and performance.

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