What we can expect at the iPad mini launch tomorrow

Tomorrow at 18:00 our time (13:00 in the US), Apple is holding an event in San Jose with "a little more to show you." Most pundits consider this to be a strong hint that this will be the very heavily rumoured "iPad mini" reveal, a smaller, 7.85in iPad. But that might not be all.

We can also anticipate some iOS gadgets and some Mac OS X PCs. In descending order of probability, here's what we might see at tomorrow’s event...

The iPad mini/iPad air

That one's almost a certainty. This would be a 7.85in, lower-cost iPad. It will probably have a 1,024 x 768 non-Retina screen like the iPad 2, so it will be compatible with current iPad apps. Given the recent rumour from Europe which placed the device's European price at 249 Euros, it will probably cost either $249 or $299 in the US, and £200 or a bit more in the UK.

Yes, it will be slimmer and lighter, and Apple will probably deliver a dazzling presentation making the new iPad's design look better than anything else on the market. But the iPad mini is ultimately a defensive move, as Apple tries to protect its flank against Amazon and Google.

The Kindle Fire has been a hit in the US, and is about to arrive in the UK priced £129, or £159 for the HD version. Sub-£200 7in tablets like Amazon’s and Google’s Nexus 7 (£159 for the base model) are starting to proliferate. So why charge more than the competition, and perhaps a bit over the £200 mark, for the new iPad? Apple feels comfortable charging a premium because of the iPad's strong brand image and unbeatable app library.

The new iPad could, in theory, be £200 and less than the new £249 iPod Touch. While it's a larger device, it could have less storage than the new iPod touch at 16GB, the screen will be grainier, and it wouldn't have the Touch's camera.

The 13in Retina Macbook Pro

Also pretty probable, this slightly smaller version of the 15in Retina Macbook would have a 2,560 x 1,600 display and all-flash storage. Expect it to come in at least a couple of hundred quid less than the 15in model, depending on what other specs Apple downgrades.

Apple wants to bring as many of its devices to Retina screen resolution as possible, but it's tough bringing the panel prices down. The best way to do that, of course, is just to sell more Retina devices. Getting the Retina display into a 13in model is one way to help that virtuous cycle form. (9to5Mac explains why Retina isn't coming to the MacBook Air.)

Apple iPad with Lightning

Slightly less likely but still in the realm of possibility, Apple could update the current iPad just to add a Lightning port. (That one's from MacRumors). The world of Lightning accessories is getting off to a very rocky start, and getting as many Lightning devices out there as possible lets Apple move away from the 30-pin connector. The iPad's price would remain the same.

New Mac Mini

The last Mac mini update was in July 2011, so it's due. It's also a "smaller" device. This is a pretty mature product, with some established fan bases among people using it as small servers and living room PCs. So expect faster connectivity, Intel's faster Ivy Bridge processors, and more RAM (according to 9to5Mac), but few other changes.

Slimmer iMac

Several rumours out there since April have promised new iMacs with slimmer bodies and anti-reflective displays. They might still not be Retina displays, though, because of the extremely high price of large high-density panels. The slimmer body may be achieved by getting rid of the iMac's optical drive. Prices would remain the same or go up slightly, but not dramatically; the iMac is still Apple's mainstream home desktop.

At any rate, we'll soon find out... stay tuned for our coverage of the event tomorrow. In the meantime, take a look at our iPad mini buyer's guide, and today's news story on the iPad mini potentially cannibalising the full-size iPad's sales.