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Wait, there are 4 iPads now? Here’s how to figure out which is for you

best keyboards ipad version 1407664857 mini vs retina air
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Apple’s deluge of fall announcements just trickled to an end, leaving us with new two new MacBooks, two new iPads, a brutish price on the brutishly powerful Mac Pro, and even a shiny new operating system for free.

So you should hop on your Vespa, throw your scarf over your shoulder and cruise down to the nearest Apple store to buy “the new iPad,” right?

Not so fast. This time around, Apple not only introduced new iPad models, it decided not to clean house, leaving the old models around at reduced prices. A potential iPad buyer now has four models to choose from, which muddies the water: Which one is for you? Apple already has a handy chart comparing every nuance of the competing models, but you don’t need to pick through it for hours to find out. Here’s a cheatsheet.

ipad mini blackiPad Mini, $300 … for the discerning cheapskate

Sure, you could grab a Nexus 7 or Kindle HDX for $230, but when it comes to a tablet, as a discerning cheapskate, you’re not going for anything but Apple. But there’s no way in hell you’re spending more than you need to, right? “I don’t need all those features,” you tell yourself as you veer away from the newer Mini at the store, thinking of how many cases of PBR $100 can buy.

If you’re not picky about graphics, you’re right. The low-res screen on this device is still fine for basic browsing, email, and casual games. You can even console yourself by remembering that you’re buying the absolute lightest of the four devices. The original iPad Mini is still a nice way to perk up with your morning coffee. Folgers, not Starbucks, of course.

ipad-mini-retina-whiteiPad Mini with Retina, $400 … for the mobile gamer

This is the Mini you’ve been waiting for. As a tech enthusiast, the size of Apple’s original Mini appealed to you, but that old-school screen was just too pixely to bear. Maybe you sighed and reluctantly bought a comparably sized Android device, or maybe you just sat it out on the sidelines. Either way, this bite-sized tablet now has both an awesome screen and a scorching 64-bit A7 processor that will play all the latest games in a size your thumbs agree to. We think it’s going to be the hottest thing in mobile gaming since the Vita and 3DS, but the size of this device also makes it far more practical for other tasks too, right down to reading on the ultrasharp 326-pixels-per-inch screen. If you’re undecided, this is your best bet for an iPad.

ipad-2-blackiPad 2, $400 … for the the idiot

You must be confused. You know the iPad Mini with Retina has better specs than this and also sells for $400, right? Faster processor, high-res display, better camera, Bluetooth 4.0, Lightning connector, you name it. Oh, and it’s way smaller and lighter. If, on the other hand, you’re over the age of 60 and need that big screen, please just wait a few weeks and scrape together the $100 for the iPad Air. You will not regret it. Either that or go buy some piece of junk tablet. In Apple terms, that’s what this is.

ipad-airiPad Air, $500 for the connoisseur

It’s the big one, and you must have it. We understand the compulsion. Having tested a ton of tablets and generally favored the smaller ones, we’re inclined to make you reconsider the now equally powerful iPad Mini 2, but the larger screen on the iPad Air has its merits. If you’re into movies and photos, want to browse the Web in comfort, or you’re considering ditching your laptop to go all-iPad, this is the device for you. Now that it’s significantly thinner and lighter, there’s less of a penalty for those extra inches, too.

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