By Ian Bush

by technology editor Ian Bush

CUPERTINO, Calif. (CBS) — There’s a lot of competition among small tablet makers.  Google, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble are among those with devices on the market.

Now, you can add Apple to the mix.

The iPad Mini has a 7.9″ (measured diagonally) screen with the same resolution (1024 x 768) as the 9.7″ display of the iPad 2.

Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller says it weighs about two-thirds of a pound and is as thin as a pencil.

“The iPad Mini starts with a full 16GB of memory,” he says.  “The WiFi configuration we’ve priced at $329.”

The cost is what executive editor David Carnoy was watching.

“At $199, you have the [Amazon] Kindle Fire HD, the [Google] Nexus device, and the new [Barnes & Noble] Nooks, and it’s really essentially whether middle America wants to pay the $329 for the higher-priced Apple product, or if $199 is all they can afford,” Carnoy says.

The iPad Mini has cameras on the front and back; there are WiFi-only and 4G models available.

“I think you’ll get a performance boost with the iPad mini over some of these products, but we won’t know until we actually test it,” Carnoy tells KYW Newsradio.  “And at the same time, it’s really whether people essentially want to gravitate toward the Apple ecosystem over one of the other ecosystems.   That’s also extremely important.”

Pre-sale starts on Friday; they’ll be shipped and in stores early next month.

Apple also said it’s upgrading its full-size iPad tablet just six months after launching a new model, doubling the speed of the processor.

The fourth-generation iPad will have a better camera and work on more LTE wireless data networks around the world. Apple also is replacing the 30-pin dock connector with their new, smaller “Lightning” connector introduced with the iPhone 5 a month ago.

The price of the new full-size model stays the same as the previous version, starting at $499 for a Wi-Fi-only version with 16 gigabytes of memory.

Apple also introduced a 13-inch MacBook Pro laptop with a Retina display sporting four times the resolution of the older model.  It goes on sale on Tuesday for $1,699.   It does away with the optical disc drive and a traditional hard drive, in favor of solid-state “flash” memory.

Apple says that makes it 20 percent thinner and, at 3.75 pounds, nearly a pound lighter than the previous model.

Apple also eliminated the optical drive from its new iMac desktop computer, helping slim the edges down to five millimeters, one-fifth the thickness of the old model.  An iMac model with a 21½-inch screen will start shipping in November for $1,299 and up. A 27-inch version will start at $1,799.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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