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Apple Announces iPad as ‘Latest Creation’

Apple announced the iPad tablet device on Wednesday at a special event in San Francisco. The tablet is an effort to fill the gap between the iPhone and iPod Touch and the MacBook.  At first impression, it appears to fill that void nicely.

The Specs

The iPad is a half-inch thick, weighs 1.5 pounds, and  looks like an large iPhone, including the signature home button.  The aluminum bezel and glass screen look like they are straight from the MacBook line. The screen is a 9.7-inch LCD (with 1024 by 768 resolution). It has a 1GHz CPU (called the Apple A4), which is a direct result of Apple’s purchase of PA Semi in 2008. The hard drive is flash based and comes in 16GB,32GB, or 64GB sizes., and, Jobs claimed, will get up to 10 straight hours of battery life or a month of life on standby.

All models have 802.11n Wi-Fi, with 3G connectivity as an option.  Bluetooth 2.1 has been included, which allows users to connect Bluetooth keyboards. A seperate Mac or PC computer with iTunes is required, so using the iPad as your only computer is not an option. It syncs using USB with the included cable.

No contract is required for the 3G connections, but AT&T has two new cellular data plans available for the iPad: $14.99 a month for 250MB of data and $29.99 a month for unlimited data. However, the iPad ships “unlocked”, so users could probably use it with the T-Mobile network if they have a SIM card from T-Mobile. We are likely to hear about those possibilities once the iPad is released and users begin testing that theory.

Apps

The user interface appears to be a hybrid of Snow Leopard and the iPhone OS, though it looks more like the iPhone than anything. The home screen has the very iPhone-looking app icons and the included applications are similar.  Here’s what’s included out of the box:

  • Safari
  • Mail
  • Photos
  • Video
  • YouTube
  • iPod
  • iTunes
  • App Store
  • iBooks
  • Maps
  • Notes
  • Calendar
  • Contacts

Each of these apps have been designed specifically for the iPad.  The iWork suite (Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) is also available as a $30 download, with each app available separately for $10 each.

Multi-Touch and On-Screen Keyboard

Users will interact with the iPad using touch-screen controls and an on-screen keyboard. In Jobs’ presentation, the interface was very responsive to the multi-touch gestures that iPhone and iPod Touch users have become familiar with.  However, the OS includes panes, floating windows, and tabs, thanks to its larger screen space.  Most of the apps appear to have the ability to display in both landscape mode and be switched between widescreen or fullscreen aspect ratios.

Buyers can get their hands on one at the end of March. The iPad will start at $499 for a Wi-Fi-equipped 16GB model.

For $130 more, you’ll be able to add 3G connectivity to each of them, and these 3G models will arrive 30 days after the Wi-Fi only versions.

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