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iPad Mini: $329, 7.9-inch screen (hands-on)

Apple has finally officially unveiled its iPad Mini and it is, indeed, extremely light. The iPad Mini sports a 7.9-inch screen and it feels as airy as the iPhone 5, though maybe a tad wide for some jacket pockets. Nonetheless, the iPad Mini feels solid for reading with one hand — it’s lighter than most books you own. It’s also relatively expensive at $329.

You’ll be able to get an iPad Mini Wi-Fi model in three memory configurations starting on November 2: $329 for 16GB, $429 for 32GB, and $529 for 64GB. Two weeks later on November 16, we’ll see Wi-Fi + 4G models hit the shelves at $459 for 16GB, $559 for 32GB, and $659 for 64GB.

(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

The 1,024×768-pixel resolution matches that of the iPad 2, but on a 7.9-inch display, text is more readable at smaller fonts. This definitely isn’t Retina Display, but it’s better-than-iPad-2 display. Videos look excellent, and the IPS screen has great wide-viewing angles.

(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

An A5 processor means it’ll be similar to the fifth-generation Touch. The important part of this iPad is that it feels as light as a Kindle, even if it’s not as tiny in width and height.

Thumb access on the sides is definitely easier, too. One-thumb operation is theoretically possible, and I found I could do it for basic scrolling and page turning.

Other specs include a front-facing 720p-capable FaceTime camera, and a 5-megapixel back camera. The Mini also supports 4G LTE, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi at 5.2Ghz, Bluetooth 4.0, and of course will use Apple’s Lightning connector, first seen on the iPhone 5.

Apple claims that the Mini has a 10-hour battery life, but we’ll have to put it through our own testing to confirm when we get one in on November 2. Preorders for the iPad Mini in all its forms start on Friday.

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