After a year in which Apple’s product announcements have largely leaked out ahead of time, today the company delivered something of a surprise: a redesigned tablet, the iPad Air, that is the lightest full-size iPad to date at just 1 pound. Its announcement was coupled with the introduction of an iPad mini with the same Retina display as the bigger model and the A7 processor used by the iPhone 5s and iPad.

The iPad announcements followed a minor update to Apple’s Macbook Pro line of laptops and some more information on the new Mac Pro desktop computer, which is getting its first major redesign since 2006. The laptops go on sale today, with the Mac Pro arriving in December for $2,999.

On the software side, the watchwords for the event were “free” and “today.” OS X Mavericks, the latest update to Apple’s desktop operating system, is becoming a free download in a move likely to send a shiver up the spine of Microsoft, which generates huge profits from sales of Windows. Also arriving free today, at least for anyone buying a new Mac or iOS device: new versions of iWork and iLife, Apple’s productivity and creativity suites.