October 12 came and went but we didn't get to feast our hungry eyes on the iPad Mini, despite a spate of rumours suggesting otherwise. But hope is not lost.
According to fresh speculation (yes, we’re still going off ‘em), Apple is set to issue invites to the launch of the iPad Mini this Wednesday.

You heard right folks: a compact (and cheaper) version of the new iPad is about to land real soon (well, that’s if the gossip is to be believed). We’re yet to receive our invites but will keep you in the loop if and when it lands in our inboxes.

iPad Mini: Release date

Apple is expected to whip the covers off the iPad Mini in weeks, specifically, on October 17, to fend of competition from rival firms, including Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Google, which launched the Google Nexus 7 tablet a few months back.
At first, critics found it hard to believe that Apple would launch a mini slate, simply because its late leader, Steve Jobs, openly criticised them. But with 7-inch tablets performing extremely well in terms of sales recently, it's believed the Cupertino-based firm may have had a change of heart.

The rumours emerged just weeks after Barnes and Noble launched its Nook range of tablets, while online retailer Amazon is gearing up to launch its new Kindle Fire tablets at the end of the month. The iPad Mini is expected to be available in shops from November 2 in time for the pre-Christmas rush, priced between £150-£200.

iPad Mini: How much will it cost?

Chinese sources claim that the miniature iPad will be priced at around $250-$300 (£156-£187 respectively). Apple devices are notoriously expensive, so the launch of a cheap(er) tablet is a clear indication that the San Francisco firm is pulling out all the stops to ensure Amazon doesn’t steal its tablet crown.
Some analysts also believe the launch of a mid-sized tablet will fend off competition from the likes of Samsung and Microsoft, both of which have been very active in their pursuits to overtake the world’s biggest company. Analysts claim Apple stands to gain about $100 in profit for each tablet sold. That figure is based on a calculation of its potential innards, with the screen costing the most at $49.54.

Despite an Amazon Kindle Fire UK release date not being set yet, the tablet is creating a buzz on British shores. It was released in the US in November last year and, according to reports, 3.9m units were sold in the run up to Christmas.
Samsung has also seen miniature success in the form of the Samsung Galaxy Note, a tablet and mobile phone all-in-one sporting a colour-rich 5.3-inch screen.
The device has sold over 5m units despite only being released a few months ago, and its follow-up, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, is expected to be unveiled at the IFA show in Berlin in August.
Although going miniature seems to be the new fad in tablet design, critics believe that Apple will buck the trend, according to MacWorld.
The late Apple boss Steve Jobs once famously dissed mid-sized slates during an Apple earnings call in October 2010, saying: “The 10in screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps. 7in tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone, and too small to compete with an iPad.”
““These are among the reasons that the current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA -- dead on arrival,” he said.

iPad Mini: What specs will it have?

The controversial motherboard manufacturer Foxconn and the design and electronics manufacturer Pegatron, two of Apple’s most devoted iKit producers, have apparently already been briefed about the iPad Mini. They will, according to reports, be actively involved in the production of the device.

Whether the iPad Mini will function as a mobile phone remains to be seen, however, it will reportedly sport a 7-inch screen – it was originally believed to be a 5-inch screen - supposedly with the same pin-sharp resolution as the new iPad. We don’t have any further details on the iPad Mini's specs yet but will keep you updated as and when we do.

How has Apple reacted to Microsoft Surface?

Although we all expected to see a batch of Windows 8 tablets arrive this year, none of us expected a Microsoft-branded slate. The software giant unveiled the Microsoft Surface tablet earlier this month, although a release date and price point is yet to be allocated.

The Windows 8-toting device measures in at 10-6 inches and sports a rugged Gorilla Glass 2 display. Also in the mix is a stunning 1920x1080p Full HD ClearType screen and a USB 3.0 connector. It will be available in two storage models: 64GB and 128GB.

What will the surprise release of the Surface mean for Apple? We’re yet to hear how the bods over at Cupertino have reacted to the news but we’ll update this post the minute we hear more.