Mini prices start at $329 for a 16 GB Wi-Fi only model.

The next big thing just got a little smaller: After months of speculation and anticipation, Apple finally unveiled the hotly rumored iPad Mini. The leaks and rumors were so accurate, however, that Apple had little new to add.

It will have the same display-resolution specs as last year’s iPad 2, but not the high-definition “retina display” of the iPad 3 which was released earlier this year. The iPad Mini’s display will be nearly an inch bigger than those of competitors like Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Google’s Nexus 7. The device’s screen has the same proportions as the larger iPads, meaning that apps designed for the tablet should also look good on the iPad Mini.

Apple promises 10 hours of battery life, and the iPad Mini will have front- and rear-facing cameras like its bigger cousins. It also will have the “lightning” connector that came new on the iPhone 5 and new iPods.

So, for the most part, the Mini is essentially a smaller version of the iPad 2 that will be available for purchase on Nov. 2.

What didn’t get a whole lot smaller was the price.

Mini prices start at $329 for a 16 GB Wi-Fi only model. The 4G option still costs an additional $130, so the 16GB 4G iPad Mini is $459.

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Many experts, including PC World business technology specialist Tony Bradley, thought the Wi-Fi only model would cost anywhere from $199 to $249. At that price, Apple could have cornered the market and dwarfed all of its Android-based competitors.

“At $199, the Apple iPad Mini would have been 7-inch tablet genocide,” Bradley says. “No competitors would be left standing.”

At $249 — another popular 7-inch tablet price point — the Apple iPad Mini would be aggressively priced and would still thwart most of the competition. Even at $299, the iPad Mini would almost be a no-brainer for someone looking for a smaller tablet option.

“So, $329 was a bit of a sticker shock,” Bradley says.

That extra $30 makes a huge psychological difference, he argues. That price tag places the iPad Mini in a sort of class of its own — a cheaper alternative to the iPad, that’s still being held to a higher premium than the rest of the 7-inch tablet market.

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