iPad Mini Coming NEXT TUESDAY! Here’s what we know…

Here’s one of my favorite games to play as a tech reporter: decipher Apple’s invitations to events and look for clues! If you had any doubt that the iPad Mini is going to be announced next Tuesday, October 23rd, then check out the latest invite that appeared in my box this morning:

Apple isn’t a company that plays with words for no reason. When they say they have a “little more” to show me, that’s a pretty strong hint they’re talking about a “little” device, a.k.a. the iPad Mini.

Do you want to be among the first in the world to find out about the iPad Mini? We’ll be running a liveblog on October 23rd, breaking Apple’s news as it happens. If you sign up for my newsletter today, I’ll drop you an email just as Apple kicks off the event so you can tune in and find out what’s going on!
iPad Mini Mockup by 9to5mac

Why an iPad Mini? After all, isn’t the original iPad supposed to be the “perfect size” according to Steve Jobs? Frankly, yes, the iPad is pretty much as close to a perfect tablet in terms of size and weight that any company can make today. Here’s what Steve said before he passed about smaller tablets:

“The reason we [won’t] make a 7-inch tablet isn’t because we don’t want to hit [a lower] price point. It’s because we think the screen is too small to express the software. As a software driven company, we think about the software strategies first.”

But Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire have proven over the last year that a smaller tab, something in a size between an eReader and a full-sized Tablet, can offer a worthwhile experience at some really exciting price points. Some feel like these smaller tablets offer more than a taste of both worlds. While there’s no substitute for a full-size screen, a smaller iPad that can run all of the same apps as its big brother? Now THAT’S exciting!

So, the iPad Mini is coming (or is it the Lil’ iPad? iPad Nano? iPad Junior? LOL) but what will it be? Read on to find out! 

First up, why an iPad mini? Think about this: today you can pick up the “new” iPad (aka the iPad 3) starting at $499. The last gen model, the iPad 2, goes for $399 new. A refurbished iPad 2 drops to about $349. But below that? There’s a pretty big drop down to the Google Nexus 7’s $199 price point.

Can you imagine if Apple could offer the iPad experience but in a smaller and even lighter form factor for $299? Maybe even less? I’ve heard some rumors that the iPad Mini might only cost $249. For schools especially, where small hands are bound to love a smaller iPad, a $300 or lower price point or lower could mean a lot more devices in the hands of our little learners.

So what is this iPad Mini going to be anyway?

The best guess, one I’ve heard everywhere, is that this new iPad is going to be a shrunken down iPad 2. It’ll probably sport a 7.85″ screen at 1024×768 pixels. So it won’t have a retina display, but it will be a fully powered iPad. After all, even with the new iPad out, I can’t think of a single app that runs on the newest model but won’t run on the iPad 2. So the Mini, even if it has last year’s internals, will still be able to run any app or game you throw at it.

Now about that screen size. Because the iPad is “taller” (or “wider” depending on how you’re holding it) than your typical 16×9 desktop or TV screen, a 7.85″ iPad Mini will be a bit bigger than the 7″ Nexus. Check out these screenshots of an iPad Mini mockup from Apple rumor blog Apple Insider

Or, who knows, maybe there is no iPad Mini. In this parody Apple video from GeekBeat.tv, they joke around on the idea that we already have an iPad Mini, and it’s called the iPhone LOL: