Apple has done it again. While critics have been criticizing, and fanboys have been staunchly defending, Apple showed everyone that they still have some breath left in them. More than a few gasps, in fact. For a while there, the consensus was that it was unlikely that the iPad Mini will have a Retina screen this year. Speculators were proven wrong, and they have something else to drool over: the iPad Air.

iPad Air

Instead of having to look forward to only the iPad Mini Retina, we now have the excruciating task of choosing between the iPad Air and the iPad Mini Retina.

The iPad Air

The successor to the current full-sized iPad is a very tempting device indeed. Not only is it only 7.5 mm thin (the previous one is 9.4 mm), but it also only weighs one freaking pound. That’s .33 pounds lighter than the iPad 2, about .43 pounds lighter than the iPad 3, and about .45 pounds lighter than the iPad 4!

And if you think that the physical downsizing cripples the iPad Air in terms of performance, think again. This baby has the A7 64-bit processor. It’s twice as fast. It has new Wi-Fi technology. And how do a 5-megapixel back camera (with HD video), improved FaceTime camera, and dual-mics sound?

As for the battery life, the iPad Air is still supposed to last you 10 hours.

You can choose from silver/white and black/space gray.

The price is where it will hurt most, with the Wi-Fi-only model starting at $499 and the cellular model at $629.

The iPad Mini Retina

iPad Mini Retina

Going to the smaller and even lighter side of the spectrum, we have the iPad Mini Retina, which I have been yearning for ever since the first iPad Mini came out. The almost 8-inch tablet now has that resolutionary display, making sure that it really is every inch an iPad! 2048 x 1536 resolution. 326 pixels per inch. My eyes are going to be so happy!

It can hold its own in terms of performance as well, with Apple going with the A7 chip. No more glitches when playing Infinity Blade (1, 2, or 3) or Injustice!

And, at 0.73 pounds, the iPad Mini Retina is the perfect tablet for people who don’t want to lug a rather heavy bag along.

What’s the catch? 

Unfortunately, the iPad Mini Retina is rather pricey, starting at $399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model. It goes up to $829 for the 128GB Wi-Fi+Cellular model! Now compare that to the $299 tag for the non-resolutionary iPad Mini (16GB)…

The Verdict

It all boils down to the balance between pricing and preferences. The iPad Air is not so heavy, but the difference can be felt if you are on the road a lot. The price, well, we already expect to pay a premium for Apple products, don’t we? Personally, I am probably going for the lighter option – it’s still $100 cheaper than the iPad Air anyway.

How about you? Which of the new iPads do you think is the better buy?

[Images via Apple]