Apple unveils new iPads, 5K display iMac and Mac Minis

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Apple unveils new iPads, 5K display iMac and Mac Minis
Apple chief executive Tim Cook with the latest hardware range in profile.

Highest resolution screen so far.

Apple managed to sneak in one surprise in today's product launch when it announced a refreshed Mac Mini range, after its launch was upstaged by leaks revealing new iPads and a 5K retina display iMac.

Chief executive Tim Cook and Apple executives Craig Federighi and Phil Schiller demonstrated mostly evolutionary upgrades to several products at their event this morning.

The refreshed Mac Mini computers are now equipped with Intel’s latest core processors, starting with 1.4GHz i5 (turbo boost to 2.7GHz), HD Graphics 5000 video, and 4GB RAM for A$619.

Mac Mini specifications

However, the Intel core processors are dual-core only, with no quad-core option available as in the past.

Mac Minis can be configured with Apple’s one terabyte Fusion drive with a built-in caching system, or 256 GB to 1TB solid state storage.

System memory is 4GB as standard for the low-end Mac Mini, and 8GB for the higher-spec models; the Mac Minis can fit a maximum of 16GB of RAM.

Apple also added 802.11ac wi-fi to the Mac Minis along with 20Gbps Thunderbolt 2 and 5Gbps USB 3 ports.

iMac with 5K retina display

Apple showed off a new iMac, boasting what it claims to be the highest resolution screen available today - a 27-inch 'retina' display that offers 5120 x 2880 pixel resolution.

The high resolution display is driven by AMD Radeon R9 graphics and also a new Apple designed timing controller chip.

Apple is aiming the upgraded retina iMacs at photo and video editing, and will ship them with spectroradiometer calibrated displays for colour accuracy, the company said.

iMac retina 5K Display

The 27-inch iMac 5K with retina display starts at A$2999 with an Intel Core i5 chip, 8GB of RAM, 1TB Fusion drive and an AMD Radeon R9 M290X graphics card with 2GB of GDDR5 video memory.

Maxing out the specs for the 5K iMac brings the cost to A$5279 including GST. This buys a 4GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 32GB RAM, 1TB solid state storage and a faster AMD Radeon M295X video card.

iPad Air 2 “the best viewfinder”

As expected, Apple also unveiled new iPads at today’s event. Both feature the TouchID fingerprint sensor for the first time on an iPad.

iPad Air 2 with TouchID

The iPad Air 2 has been slimmed down to just 6.1mm and runs the 64-bit Apple A8X system on chip with M8 co-processor, which is a new variant of the processor that drives the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launched last month.

As with the iMac retina 5K, Apple marketing boss Phil Schiller positioned the iPad Air 2 as a photographic tool, claiming it offered the best viewfinder thanks to the large retina display, which is fully laminated for the first time.

Cameras on the iPad Air 2 have also been improved. It now sports an f/2.4 eight megapixel iSight camera, and a better front-facing FaceTime HD imaging unit.

The iPad Air 2 misses out on some camera features that Apple introduced with the iPhone 6 Plus, such as optical image stabilisation, a faster f/2.2 lens. The iPad Air 2's burst mode is similarly only 120 frames per second, not 240fps as with the new iPhone.

The tablet's smaller cousin, the iPad Mini 3, has a lower-resolution five megapixel camera with f/2.4 aperture and also runs the previous generation 64-bit A7 chip with M7 co-processor.

Pricing for the iPad Air 2 starts at A$619 including GST for the 16GB wi-fi only model, going to A$859 for the 128GB storage variant.

Adding LTE cellular broadband to the iPad Air 2 brings the cost of the 16GB model to A$779, with the top of the line 128GB device priced at A$1019. Models with 64GB storage cost A$739 and A$899 for the wi-fi and wi-fi plus LTE iPad Air 2 respectively.

iPad Mini 3 tablets cost A$449 for 16GB with the 128GB model retailing for A$739; LTE iPad mini 3 models cost A$659 for 16GB and A$899 for the 128GB wi-fi plus LTE device.

The 64GB iPad Mini 3 is priced at A$619 and A$739 for the wi-fi only and wi-fi and LTE models respectively.

OS X 10.10 out of the door

Along with the new devices, Apple chief executive Tim Cook also announced the availability of the company's new desktop operating system, OS X 10.10 “Yosemite”, which will be free via Apple’s software update from today.

Yosemite features a redesigned, flatter user interface and new versions of bundled apps such as the Safari web browser, along with with Javascript performance boost and battery life improvements.

Apple Mail now comes with a 'Mail Drop' feature, which lets users send large attachments up to 5GB in size for free, as well as the ability to sign forms and PDF documents directly in the app.

Read our full review of OS X 10.10 Yosemite here

Apple is also providing the Server 4.0 add-on to Yosemite but will charge US$24.99 for the product.

The first major update to Apple's most recent mobile operating system, iOS 8.1, is currently in beta and is expected to be released on October 21 in Australia, the company also announced.

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