Apple's "iPad" Tablet: It's Here, It's Cool, and It's Slightly Cheaper Than Expected

By Smriti Rao | January 27, 2010 5:39 pm

It has been one of the world’s worst kept secrets, but that hasn’t make the waiting any easier. Now, after years of whispers, rumors, speculation, and leaks, people can finally gawk at Apple’s latest offering–a new device the company refers to as the iPad. The thin and elegant tablet device was officially unveiled today by Apple CEO Steve Jobs in San Fransisco. The iPad “is so much more intimate than a laptop, and it’s so much more capable than a smartphone with its gorgeous screen,” Mr. Jobs crowed. “It’s phenomenal to hold the Internet in your hands” [The New York Times].

So what exactly is this tablet? The iPad, it seems, looks and acts a lot like a giant iPhone or iPod Touch. You can get your apps, play your games, store your pictures, watch your videos, and browse the Internet–but on a bigger screen and in higher definition. One addition to the tablet is that now you can read books online with Apple’s new iBooks.

At the launch, Jobs described the iPad as featuring a 9.7-inch, full capacitive multi-touch IPS display that weighs 1.5 pounds and measures just half an inch. “Thinner and lighter than any netbook,” according to Jobs [PCMag]. There’s also an on-screen keyboard for you to jab at. The tablet’s starting price is $499 for a 16 gigabyte device and goes up to $699 for the 64 GB version. If you throw in an extra $130, you’ll get 3G capability. Apple linked up with AT&T for its two 3G data plans: You can choose between paying $14.99 a month for 250 megabytes (which you could burn through pretty quickly by downloading multimedia) or $29.99 for unlimited data. In both cases, you don’t need a contract. All models feature built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, an accelerometer, speaker, and microphone. It is expected to start shipping in March.

The iPad has a built-in iTunes store, for music playback. It can also do video, naturally, either via iTunes for movies and TV shows, or via third-party apps like YouTube and YouTube HD. The device syncs to Macs and PCs via USB, in much the same manner as the iPhone, so users can transfer content like movies and music from iTunes. According to Jobs, the device gets 10 hours of battery life. “I can take a flight from San Francisco to Tokyo and watch video the whole time.” It also features a month of standby time on a single charge, he said [PCMag].

But what’s a tablet without the right accessories? There are two docks offered for the device: The first one is a picture dock, so you can watch videos with the device docked upright. The other has a built-in-keyboard that transforms the tablet into a (gasp!) netbook of sorts.

It is clear one of the main functions of the iPad will be as a reading device. Martin Nisenholtz from the New York Times showed its own app onstage for the iPad, which looks like a larger, lusher version of the one which is now available on the iPhone. “This is the next version of digital journalism,” declares Nisenholtz. We’ll see [Washington Post].

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  • Mike

    I like it…might wait until next years improved model comes out. Sleeker is good = less plastic.

  • NewEnglandBob

    me want ipad!

  • Jill in Texas

    Wow! This sounds Great. I LOVE the no contract part, Thats why I don’t have the iPhone yet. I won’t do a two year (or any fixed time) contract with AT&T. Can’t wait for March. Each Day is a Gift, that’s why it’s called the Present … Peace and Love …

  • Jordan

    i think the iPad is kinda cool, more of a toy/big ipod touch than a computer. If apple wants to brag about having the best web experience they need to get flash player support, and who the heck uses only 16GB on a computer. To many limitations for me, and I am an apple person (says something)

  • Dave

    It’s cool but I’ll stay with my Asus laptop with a 1080p screen and intense gaming capbilities. There’s just more my laptop has to offer for a similar price. The biggest thing is obviously the touchscreen, as they are rather fun… I’ve always wondered why I’ve never seen mass marketed touch screens you can hook into a regular computer. It would make RTS games intense!

  • BASS

    While it does have some nice built in software , For me this device is just a platform and ,as with the iphone it’s uses will de defined by the applications. I can almost run my small business on the iPhone with apps like iThoughts, Invoice 2GO and Sumit Project budgeting. The keyword being “almost” because the main problem with the Iphone is that the business apps are nice standalone features but they dont “connect up with any full blown versions on the PC or Mac, nor do they interface with any major accounting software packages.

    I hope the extra power and screen size of the IPad will enable apps builders to correct these issue

  • Jason Alan Graves

    I have never owned any Apple product, but I must say, when I see my friends and colleagues so incredibly satisfied with their MacBooks and iPhones, clearly I’m missing something. From what I seen thus far, the iPad will be my first Apple device. Sure, it won’t do everything my PC will do; but the more I think about it, the Apple iPad actually does exactly the things I spend the vast majority of my time doing on my PC.

    I plan on picking up 2 of these bad boys ASAP. I can’t wait to subscribe to magazines on this thing, and for sure Discover will be one of them. The way Apple demonstrated the iBook app, the virtual page turning, and how the page moves, it just looks incredible. Sure I could read books and magazines on my laptop, but it’s just not the same experience.

    What I don’t understand though, is why not a single other device manufacturer has been able to put a tablet into such a nice form factor as Apple has. None of the tablets demonstrated at CES 2010′ looked even remotely as good as the iPad does.

  • andy

    me want ipad too- 😀

  • jon

    i want an ipad because i really just wanted a new ipod touch but wtf this is cooler already have my pre- order

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