) -


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ended months of rumor and speculation on Tuesday, unveiling its iPad Mini during an eagerly-anticipated launch event in San Jose, Calif.

With a 7.9-inch display, the new iPad is significantly smaller than previous Apple iPad offerings.

"It is every inch an iPad," explained Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of product marketing, during the launch event, adding that the device is as thin as a pencil and as light as a pad of paper.

At just 0.68 pounds, the iPad Mini is over 50% lighter than the third-generation iPad launched earlier this year and at 0.28 of an inch thick is also slimmer than its 0.37-inch predecessor.

The device also comes with an A5 chip and two cameras - a front-facing Face Time HD camera and a 5-megapixel iSight camera on the back.

Pricing for the iPad Mini starts at $329, a price tag which came as a surprise to some of the commenters on

The Street's

live blog

of Apple's product launch. There had been plenty of chatter that the device would be


between $250 and $300, although


had heard rumors that a $329 price tag was likely.

Schiller aimed a dig at tablet rivals such as


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during the launch event. "Others have tried to make tablets smaller than the iPad and they have failed miserably," he said.

Apple CEO Tim Cook was also on hand, explaining that the company recently sold its 100 millionth iPad. "With iPad, the possibilities are endless," he added. "We really believe this."

The Apple chief also discussed the iPad's continuing popularity in both education and corporate America. "Almost every company in the Fortune 500 is either testing or deploying the iPad," he said.

The iPad Mini Wi-Fi models will be available on Nov. 2, with versions offering both Wi-Fi and cellular services coming out a couple of weeks later.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based firm also launched its fourth-generation iPad on Tuesday. Like the third-generation iPad, the fourth-generation tablet offers a 9.7-inch display, but, unlike the earlier version, contains an A6X chip and a FaceTime HD camera. The device also offers twice the Wi-Fi performance of previous iPad models, as well as support for additional LTE carriers worldwide, according to Apple.

The fourth-generation iPad Wi-Fi models will be available on Nov.2, priced from $499. Versions combining Wi-Fi and cellular services will be available two weeks later.

Apple also launched a new iMac on Tuesday, containing processors from


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(NVDA) - Get Report

, which it's touting as its most advanced desktop ever.

The new iMac also contains a new storage option called FusionDrive, combining high-performance Flash storage and a hard drive.

Additionally, Apple updated the Mac Mini with new Intel processors, and also launched a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

Apple shares closed down 3.26% at $614.14 on Thursday.


Written by James Rogers in New York.

Follow @jamesjrogers

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