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Image credit: Chris Velazco / Engadget

The biggest news from Apple's iPad and Mac event

All these hardware updates are meaningful, but they're also going to cost a lot.
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Chris Velazco / Engadget

As expected, Apple spent today's event in Brooklyn, New York, focused on the Mac and the iPad. The long-languishing MacBook Air finally caught up with the rest of the company's laptop lineup while the even-more-outdated Mac mini received its first meaningful update in years. And the iPad Pro, already the best pure tablet on the market by most measures, was completely redesigned again, adding USB-C and taking plenty of design cues from Apple's recent iPhones. Oh, and it's incredibly powerful. Apple even shows off the iPad Pro running attached to 5K displays now.

While all these updates are meaningful, Apple is charging significantly more for them than it did for the products they replace. Get ready for some sticker shock. Whether these changes will be worth the cash is up to you: Read on to get details on the most meaningful changes Apple made today and how much the new hardware will set you back.

The MacBook Air finally has a Retina display -- but no USB ports

  • Apple hadn't updated the MacBook Air in any meaningful way since 2015, but today Apple's most well-known laptop catches up with the times. Certainly the biggest improvement is the 2,560/1,600 Retina display, but the laptop is also smaller and lighter than before (goodbye, huge screen bezels!).
  • As has become commonplace with the Mac, though, it's important to note what's not here. Apple dropped the USB-A ports and SD card reader, just like it did when it redesigned the MacBook Pro in 2016. In its place are two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports for power and connectivity. There's still a headphone jack though!
  • The Air also features Apple's third-generation butterfly keyboard, which is supposed to be quieter and less prone to failure than earlier models. Gone are the familiar scissor keys found in the MacBook Air for years -- hope you are ready for seriously shallow travel.
  • The new MacBook Air features Intel's latest, eighth-generation Core i5 processors, up to 1.5TB of storage and 16GB of RAM. The base model, which costs $1,199 (£1,199), has 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM; pre-orders are open now, and it arrives on November 7th.

The iPad Pro has been radically redesigned and is incredibly expensive

  • Not to be outdone, the iPad Pro has also received a radical makeover. As expected, Apple removed the home button, added Face ID (which works any way you're holding the device) and shrank the bezels on both its smaller and larger iPad Pros. The 10.5-inch iPad Pro has been upgraded to an 11-inch screen in a body that's the same size and weight while the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is now significantly smaller than the old model it replaces.
  • Apple spent a lot of time touting the incredible power of the iPad Pro. The new eight-core, A12X Bionic chip is a seven-nanometer piece of silicon with speeds up to 35 percent faster than the previous iPad Pro's. That's just in single core though -- multicore speeds are up to 90 percent faster. The old iPad was no slouch, but this new model sounds like it positively screams. It also features a seven-core GPU that Apple says compares to the one in the Xbox One S.
  • Lightning is out, USB-C is in: The iPad Pro is the first iOS device to use USB-C for power and data. This opens up some pretty serious new capabilities for the device, including much easier connections to storage, cameras, musical instruments and more. It can even drive 5K displays. It also means that you can charge your iPhone from an iPad Pro -- something that could be handy in a pinch.
  • Apple is also selling a new Pencil and new Smart Keyboard Folio to go along with the iPad Pro. Pencil attaches magnetically to the side of the device and can charge wirelessly, a huge improvement over the original Pencil design. Meanwhile, the keyboard folio now protects both sides of the iPad and features two viewing angles. That's nothing compared to the Surface Pro's kickstand flexibility, but hey, it's a start.
  • These new iPads are wildly expensive. The 11-inch costs $799 with a paltry 64GB of storage while the 12.9-inch model costs $999 with that same 64GB of storage. Bumping up to a more reasonable 256GB model jacks the prices to $949 and $1,149, respectively. The new iPad Pro is up for pre-sale now and ships on November 7th.
  • Oh yeah -- there's no headphone jack. Courage!

Remember the Mac mini? So does Apple!

  • The Mac mini has been languishing for even longer than the MacBook Air, so anyone looking for a semi-affordable Mac desktop has to be pleased that Apple is giving it new life. Like the new MacBook Air, the Mini uses eighth-generation Intel quad- and six-core processors... and integrated graphics. Oh, well. It also can take up to 64GB of RAM and features SSD storage up to 2TB.
  • The T2 security chip found in Apple's recent laptops comes to the mini as well. It encrypts your storage, checks to make sure the boot process hasn't been tampered with and helps transcode HEVC video.
  • As befitting a desktop, there's a pretty decent selection of ports on the Mac mini. It includes Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) for expansion, some classic USB-A ports for your old peripherals, HDMI and Ethernet.
  • Just like everything else Apple introduced today, the new Mac mini is more expensive than the one it replaces. The base $799 model includes 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and a 3.6GHz quad-core i3 processor; $1,099 gets you the same 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage and a 3.0GHz six-core i5 processor.

Follow all the latest news from Apple's fall 2018 event here!

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