After months of speculation and rumors, Apple (IW 500/9) CEO Tim Cook took the stage at the California Theatre in San Jose yesterday to unleash two new iPads into the world.

One of those, of course, was the much-anticipated iPad Mini, which -- if the applause it generated is any indication -- was the real draw for the packed house of Apple aficionados.

Cook deferred to Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president for marketing, for the actual unveiling, which Schiller managed with classic Apple prestidigitation.

"This," he told the eager audience after a surprise glimpse, "is iPad mini. This isn't just a shrunken down iPad; it's an entirely new design."

At .68 pounds and just 7.2 millimeters thick the 7.9 inch device is one of the smallest, lightest and thinnest tablet on the market -- thinner than a pencil and lighter than a pad of paper, Schiller noted -- and still capable of running the over 250,000 iPad apps without trouble.

"We want an iPad capable of running all that amazing software written for iPad without the developers having to do any work," Schiller said. "We wanted it to be smaller such that it could be thinner and lighter, as you can see, but not so small that it stops being usable."

Also announced at the event was the release of the fourth generation of the full 9.7 inch iPad. Coming only seven months after the release of the so-called "New iPad" -- suddenly referred to as the "third generation" during the event -- this new new iPad boasts double the processing speed and a few notable cosmetic and hardware changes.

To these improvements, Schiller joked, "We were already so far ahead of the competition, but with this, I can't even see them in the rearview mirror."

This note about the competition was no subtle jab. With these announcements, Apple seems keenly aware of what is becoming a rather saturated tablet market.