AT THE Apple media event held last week amid the gilded rococo splendour of the historic California Theatre in San Jose in the heart of Silicon Valley, one thought briefly of the man sorting oranges - ''it's all the choices that drive me mad''.
Yes, we got the expected iPad Mini, and beautiful it is. But before that, chief executive Tim Cook and Apple marketing veteran Phil Schiller rolled out an impressive list of new devices.
Out came a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with a Retina Display to join the 15-inch model launched a month ago. A more powerful version of the Mac Mini component computer was followed by a fourth-generation full-size iPad with a new, faster A6X microprocessor and then, surprising everyone, a totally new, amazingly catwalk-model slim, more powerful iMac that almost overshadowed the guest of honour, the iPad Mini.
Apple had to have the mini iPad. It wasn't covering the market for smaller-screen devices, in which Amazon's Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus 7 were proving that while screen acreage remains important, some people want less bulk in their bags and less weight on their hands when reading in bed.
Price is important, too. The iPad Mini is a tad above where analysts see the buyers' sweet spot, but Apple's quality, design and ecosystem should cover that.
At the after-launch media scrum I got to play with a mini iPad. I cannot see it replacing my iPad, yet for some functions, such as for reading books in bed, it is tempting.
All 275,000 iPad apps in the App Store will run on it because both big and little iPads share the same pixel count - 1024 by 768 - so developers won't have to change a single line of code.
Do you need, as Steve Jobs once quipped, sandpaper to hone down your fingers for the smaller screen? No, although I think on more complex webpages a stylus might be handy; plenty are available and some people use them on big iPads.
Is the virtual keyboard more difficult to use on the smaller screen? No. Obviously, it is easier than an iPhone or iPod Touch keyboard but even they are no problem unless you have big bratwurst fingers.
Otherwise, in all respects and functions the mini is all-iPad. I think it is going to give the Kindle and the Nexus a real run for their money.
In terms of usable screen acreage, the iPad Mini pushes the narrower Nexus out of the ring. Videos on the Nexus suffer from letterboxing. The iPad Mini, with its wider 7.9-inch screen, is still good to hold in one hand but has 37 per cent more screen area than the seven-inch Androids and, Apple says, gives 67 per cent more usable viewing area when browsing the web.
The iPad Mini is elegantly designed and well built as only Apple does, with a beautifully finished aluminium and glass body, either shiny silver or anodised matt grey-black, according to whether the screen bezel is black or white. It is 7.2 millimetres thin and weighs 308 grams (about the same as a paper notebook).
Performance is comparable with the big iPad: it has an Apple-designed dual-core A5 chip, wi-fi specs up to the latest dual-band 802.11n, giving twice the speed of earlier iPads, a front-facing FaceTime HD camera and a five-megapixel iSight camera on the back. Battery life of up to 10 hours is claimed.
The cellular versions cover 3G DC-HSDPA and 4G LTE broadband standards. Personal Hotspot is included, allowing up to five other devices, such as a MacBook or another iPad, to connect via wi-fi, Bluetooth or USB to a cellular connection.
About here we should touch on the new fourth-generation full-size iPad, which boasts a new Apple-designed A6X microprocessor, said to double the CPU and graphics performance of the A5X. It also has a FaceTime HD camera, dual-band 802.11n wi-fi and 4G LTE. Storage is 16 gigabytes, 32GB and 64GB in all versions of mini and full-size iPads.
All new devices, the iPhone 5, iPads Mini and full-size, have the new, smaller Lightning connector replacing the 30-pin socket. A range of adaptors for USB, SD cards, HDMI and VGA is available.
Pre-orders are now open, with deliveries of the wi-fi versions expected to start on November 2 and of the wi-fi-plus-cellular versions a few weeks later.
Prices for the iPad mini start at $369 for the 16GB, wi-fi-only version, and at $509 for the 16GB wi-fi+4G version.
Garry Barker travelled to San Jose as the guest of Apple.