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
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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