Apple’s iPad, in its fourth generation as of today, has utterly dominated the larger tablet segment. Many have tried, but few have matched the company’s grace of hardware and software. So the competition thought outside the box, and instead of challenging the iPad head on, companies like Amazon and Google took a much different route, where small intersected with cheap without compromising on quality.

Is that why Apple’s new iPad mini exists? Probably. But the company wouldn’t ever admit it. Instead, Apple is introducing the little guy as an alternative to its own iPad. Can’t afford the new fourth gen? The iPad mini is almost $200 cheaper. That’s a pretty noticeable disparity, especially for price conscious holiday shoppers.

So it doesn’t have a high resolution screen, but it’s still a portal directly to the top app ecosystem there is, and that’s enough for a lot of consumers. The hardware, too, is the best out of devices comparable in size, mitigating that hefty $329 entry price ever so slightly.

Will the iPad mini be enough to stifle the skyrocketing Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire growth? Only time will tell. If you’re a consumer with absolutely no company preference — a neutral, if you will — it’s an amazing time to be in the tablet market. The options are there — Apple is hoping its iPad mini, like its bigger iPad brother, can decimate the competition, even if the smaller segment is unfamiliar territory for the company.

Apple iPad Mini Gallery: