They might not be wearing Christmas sweaters, but Apple's iPad family is ready for the holiday season.
Apple announced that its new iPad Mini with a Retina Display will be available starting today at Apple's online store. The tablet, which was announced last month, still has a smaller 7.9-inch display than the full-size iPad, but now that display has significantly better resolution.
The 2048 x 1536 resolution screen is much crisper, making photos, videos and text appear sharper. The tablet starts now at $399, rather than the $329 the original Mini cost. However, Apple is still keeping that original, lower-resolution Mini on shelves for $299.
Of course, the two smaller tablet siblings are also joined by the iPad Air, which has a larger 9.7-inch display and a higher $499 starting price. The Air and the new iPad Mini with Retina really only differ in size. They both have Apple's new A7 processor, a similar design and Retina Displays. Apple will also still offer the iPad 2 for $399.
Though the new iPad mini goes on sale today, brick and mortar Apple stores won't sell it to walk-in customers directly. Instead, customers will need to place an order online and request in-store pickup, instead of just buying one on the spot at an Apple store. However, the new iPads will also be sold through AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless and select Apple Authorized Resellers.
That's four iPads available from Apple this holiday season to fight on the competitive tablet battlefield. Microsoft's Surface 2, Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX and Google's Nexus 7 are all being marketed by the respective companies as better alternatives to the iPad. However, while Apple's iPad sales slowed last quarter with 14.1 million sold versus the 14.6 million in the previous quarter, Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that he expects this to be an "iPad Christmas."
"We continue to view the tablet market as 'huge.' We see it as a large opportunity for us. We are not solely focused on unit share, as we've said many times, but on usage and customer satisfaction and other things that are very important to us," Cook said last month on the company's earnings call.
And analysts and reviewers tend to believe the same, that Apple continues to have the lead in the competitive market. While the other companies have come up with clever new hardware and software features, Apple's new thinner and lighter tablets and the availability of over 475,000 apps continues to put the tablet pioneer in the lead, even if the prices are higher.
"At $399, the new iPad Mini is certainly one of the more expensive 8-inch tablets on the market and a few multiples of the price beyond the least expensive Android tablets," Ross Rubin, principal analyst for Reticle Research, told ABC News. "However, it includes premium components including the high-resolution display and high-end A7 processor."