If the Apple rumor mill is true — and it's been a pretty reliable source so far — the Cupertino computer behemoth is expected on Tuesday to unveil the iPad mini, a sleek device some are predicting might be best used for airplane travel, trips to the beach and for school children to use in the classroom.
Everyone will know for sure when CEO Tim Cook and the Apple team announce their Next Big Things at a much-anticipated announcement at 10 a.m. PT at the California Theater in San Jose. We'll also know the official name, too, as some have speculated the mini will be called the "iPad Air."
Sergio Velazquez of Brooklyn, N.Y., already plans to buy one, no matter what the name — even before he knows all the details.
In a phone interview Monday, Sergio said that he's a BMW engineer and he hopes to work on a smaller iPad, which is rumored to be a 7.85-inch device. "I could do designs of cars on it," he said. "And I could travel with it, too. And yeah, I may play some games."
Leander Kahney, editor and publisher of the Cult of Mac in San Francisco, was betting that this new, smaller iPad would appeal to K-12 school leaders.
"A lot of schools are saying they want the iPad for every single kid, and this would be a cheaper option than the iPad," Kahney said. "Instead of going to a computer lab, the kids could bring the mini to each and every class."
Aside from school kids, Kahney said one of his colleagues is already poised to sell his iPad 3 for a mini, because he wants a lighter device to throw into his travel bag.
"This is the iPad you would take to the beach or the pool," Kahney said. "The regular iPad can function more like a laptop and be kept at home."
No one knows the price point for sure, but tech analyst Larry Maggid said he thought the mini would have to cost less than the third-generation iPad (which starts at $499) and the iPad 2 (which starts at $399). His best guess was that it would cost as low as $199. And Kahney said to be competitive, the iPad mini would have to be comparable in price to the Kindle Fire, which is now starting at $159. Wilson Rothman of NBC News said the magic price point would be $249.
All this goes to show that the tablet market is heating up. Google is expected on Oct. 29 to introduce a new high-end tablet from Samsung and LG's Nexus 4 and a new 32GB Nexus 7 tablet — all from tech media reports this weekend. And Microsoft's surface tablet is already on backorder.
And for Apple diehards jones-ing for some new tweaks in more of their favorite products, consumers can also expect to hear more about a new MacBook Mini and a 13-inch MacBook Pro with a high-resolution retina display at the Apple conference as well.
Kahney added that the only criticism so far that he's seen of the new yet-to-be-revealed iPad mini is by some Wall Street analysts, who wonder what effect the smaller iPad would have on the regular iPad sales. Rob Cihra with Evercore Partners wrote a note last week to investors saying that he thought Apple would abandon the $400 iPad 2, and instead, sell 26 million iPad minis throughout the holiday season.
"But overall, people seem to be real excited," Kahney said. "It's supposed to have a fairly large screen with high definition, have a great battery life, and be a cheap way to get into the Apple eco-system."
Stay tuned, NBC will give you the actual details Tuesday as Apple reveals them.