Big tech launches seem to be like buses – you can wait ages for one, then three turn up at once. After Apple set the ball rolling last month with the introduction of the iPhone 6 and iOS 8, then Google gave us new Nexuses and Android Lollipop earlier this week, it's now Apple's turn again, with its new iPads being revealed to the world.
The firm showed off its new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 at an event in California, along with updates to the iMac, OS X and a confirmation of when it's Apple Pay service would start in the US. But, as always, it's the shiny new tablets that were watching most of the attention.
However, unlike a couple of years ago, when the iPad essentially had the tablet market to itself, there are now a huge range of pretenders gunning for Apple's crown. So what has the Cupertino-based company got up its sleeve this time to keep it ahead of the pack?
Thinner than ever
Apple has clearly been making an effort to ensure its new iPad Air 2 is as sleek and light as possible, in order to attract users who may normally consider a tablet as a bulky, awkward alternative to a smartphone.
The new design has been put on an even more intensive diet than the original iPad Air, with the result that it's now just 6.1 mm thick and weighs less than a pound. But despite this, is still manages to boast a 9.7-inch Retina display with a custom-designed anti-reflective coating that Apple claims will reduce glare by 56 per cent, for a clearer display in the office, the classroom or outdoors.
Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice-president of worldwide marketing, said: "iPad is a magical piece of glass that runs more than 675,000 apps specifically designed for it, and is thin and light enough that you can comfortably hold it all day."
More power, more features
Both the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 3 include Apple's Touch ID fingerprint recognition technology, which is the first time this has been included on the brand's tablets after it proved to be a popular feature when it was introduced on the iPhone 5s last year. It will also enable users to make easy purchases through Apple Pay. This launches in the US from October 20th, though there's no word yet on when it'll make its way to the UK.
Under the cover, the iPad 2 will also pack more more of a punch in the power stakes than its predecessor. It's equipped with an A8X processor – an upgraded version of the chip included in the iPhone 6. Apple says this will deliver a 40 per cent improvement in CPU performance and 2.5 times the graphics results of the iPad Air, while still offering up to ten hours of battery life.
Users should be able to notice the difference, as when combined with the high-definition Retina display, Apple claims this will "unlock realistic visual effects" that will be comparable to the latest gaming consoles.
The iPad Air 2 also comes with advanced 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology to make it even faster to connect to the world. Apple states this gives the device wireless performance that's 2.8 times better than what the first iPad air could achieve. Users who opt for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model will also find a connectivity improvement, as it offers better support for 4G mobile solutions.
Revolution or evolution?
Despite the addition, some analysts have suggested that the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 only offer incremental improvements, rather than anything truly transformative for the tablet market.
For instance, JP Gownder of research firm Forrester said that Apple could have been more innovative with the designs it offers in order to attract new customers. He told the BBC: "It is disappointing – particularly to enterprise buyers – that there wasn't a 12.9-inch iPad model … In order to return iPad to high growth, form factor innovation will be required."
Meanwhile, Trusted Reviews noted that while the iPad Air 2 will immediately take a place as one of the best tablets on the market, it doesn't have any major innovations that haven't been seen before on Apple's smartphones.
However, even though the individual elements of the device may only seem to have made minor improvements, the overall result remains very impressive. The Independent, for example, stated: "At first these new models seem like gentle upgrades, but in the flesh the lightweight, thin iPad Air 2 is something of a revelation."
When can I buy them?
Consumers in the UK can order their new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 immediately, with the gadgets hitting shelves next week. Prices for the iPad Air 2 start at £399 for a 16GB Wi-Fi only model, climbing to £659 for the top-of-the-line 128GB model with 4G mobile connectivity. The iPad mini 3, meanwhile, starts at £319.
Of course, once you've got your new iPad, you'll want to personalise and protect it, so we've got a range of iPad Air 2 cases and iPad mini 3 covers available to buy now to really make your device your own.