It’s been quite an exciting week for those glued to the latest out of Cupertino, and this morning it gets better. As promised, Apple made the iPad mini available on its website for pre-order. The .68-pound tablet that is “thinner than a pencil” offers users a 7.9-inch experience on top of Apple’s traditional iOS. Apple is offering the iPad mini at $329 for 16GB, $429 for 32GB, and $529 for 64GB. Apple plans to ship the first batch to customers Nov. 2 and will make it available in-store at 8AM.

For those who want to get the iPad mini with 4G capabilities added on, they’ll have to do a bit of waiting. For the same storage capacity options as the Wi-Fi-only model, the Wi-Fi + 4G model will be priced at $459, $559, and $659. Apple revealed at its event this week that orders will ship in “mid-November” for Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint variants.

The iPad mini has a 7.9-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit Multi-Touch display with IPS technology, A5 dual-core processor, dimensions of “200 x 134.7 x 7.2mm,” a 5-megapixel-iSight camera, 1.2-megapixel FaceTime camera, and a weight of 308g.

Additionally, as planned, Apple made the fourth-generation iPad available for customers to pre-order this evening. The fourth-generation iPad features an updated 1.3GHz A6X dual-core processer, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, and 5-megapixel back-facing camera.

Apple makes available an iPad mini Smart Cover that comes in six colors, including: gray, silver, pink, green, blue, and (PRODUCT) RED. Apple also offers its slew of 10-inch iPad accessories, including a Smart Cover and Smart Case.

Several readers are reporting they had no issues pre-ordering either product, as the Apple Store looks to be running smoothly. Pre-orders are also available via the Apple Store app on iOS.

The iPad mini is set to take aim at the Amazon Kindle Fire and Google/Samsung’s joint Nexus 7. Apple’s Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said on the company’s Q4 earnings call this afternoon that Apple will never make a 7-inch tablet: “We don’t think they are good products, and we would never make one. Not just because it’s 7 inches, but for many reasons. One of the reasons…is size. I’m not sure if you saw our keynote. The difference in just the size between 7.9—almost 8—versus 7 is 35 percent. And when you look at the usable area, it is much greater than that. You know, it is from 50 percent to 67 percent. The iPad mini has the same number of pixels as iPad 2 does.”

Nexus 7 & Kindle Fire

Apple is sure to sell many these things over the holidays, not only because of its cheaper price, but because of some customers really want a 7.9-inch form-factor. To give some perspective on the $329 price, Apple said on its earnings call this afternoon that the iPad mini’s gross margin is “significantly below” the rest of its products.

Developers won’t be required to update their apps for the iPad mini like with the iPhone 5. The tablet has the same resolution as older iPads, giving iPad mini owners instant access to the 250,000 apps that are available for the iPad on the App Store. Oh, and yes, it has Siri too.

Early hands-on of the iPad mini from earlier this week rang out with a similar theme: iPad mini feels weightless and has a sleek feel to it. Engadget said in its hands-on post, “the smaller iPad is clearly aimed at classrooms and readers — two sectors where frills aren’t exactly necessary.” Here’s an interesting graphic that shows the iPad mini compared to relatable objects, giving a little prospective to how it feels in the hand.

Image via Which

The fourth-generation iPad may be a little different. In its initial hands-on The Verge said, “If you’ve got a third-gen iPad you’re probably not going to be tempted here.” Customers may be turned off by the lack of updates to the fourth-generation iPad, as characterized by several people across the web and even in our own comment section. The port change is indicated below, and what you can’t see is the upgraded A6X processor.

Image via The Verge

Of course, we won’t be too sure how each device fares until we have both in our hands next Friday. Readers: Did you pre-order either device today?

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