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iPad mini is real — of course — and so are a LOT of other Apple announcements: Retina 13″ MacBook Pro, new iPad fourth generation, new Mac minis, new iMacs, new iTunes, and more.

But the big deal was the little guy.

I elbowed my way gently through the mass of press to touch the hallowed device in a dimly-lit room laid out with long light-colored wooden tables, reminiscent of an Apple store. The first reaction: this is light. My second reaction: this is really, really light.

The iPad mini is just 7.2 millimeters thick and .68 pounds heavy, though why Apple insists on using metric for thickness and imperial for weight I do not know. Frankly, it feels like an Amazon Kindle I used to have, the third or so generation: essentially so light that your hand has no real sensation of weight, just of presence.

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(Immediately after looking at the iPad mini, I picked up one of Apple’s new fourth-generation iPads with the Lightning connector. It felt like a workout accessory — I imagined Ah-nold screaming, ‘I want to PUMP. YOU. UP.’)

I flipped through apps, watched some HD movie previews, and generally annoyed journalists who were behind me in the line. Everything felt reasonably snappy, even fast; the mini’s dual-core A5 processor is up to the task. And I took a little movie:

At the event, the aptly-named Phil Schiller told us that every part is custom-designed, and Cupertino’s design guru Jony Ive said the result is “incredibly thin and light … an extraordinary iPad.”

This is by no means a full review, but I would have to agree.

The one problem with Apple’s tablet garden, I think, is the price. The whisper number had a starting price at $250, which would have been an aggressive price that would have driven a lot of consumer adoption. Apple will still sell the proverbial boatload at $329 and up … but it’s not quite as easy a decision as $250.

Apple has seldom been the low-price leader, but with all the tablet competition in the offing, CEO Tim Cook could have afforded a bit more boldness.

Here are a few more shots:

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Photo credits: John Koetsier

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