Apple's iPad (Tablet) Hits The Scene

After months of intensifying rumor-mongering, the Apple tablet is finally among us, and it's called the iPad. Steve Jobs presented the new device at a big unveil event in San Francisco and its remarkable how off the mark some rumors were.

The iPad is essentially a portable tablet computer that looks like a giant iPhone. It's designed for a number of activities including Web browsing, email, video, gaming and music. Other uses include navigation and maps, photos, and calendar. The iPad will run iPhone apps and will also benefit from apps designed specifically for it thanks to a new software development kit that Apple released today. 

The tablet comes equipped with a 9.7-inch full-capacitive multitouch display with LED backlighting. The display's resolution is 1024 x 768. It is powered by custom-designed 1 GHz Apple A4 processor chip. The iPad features a virtual, on-screen keyboard, and Apple will also offer an add-on physical keyboard as an accessory. Wi Fi is included on all models and 3G models will also be available. The iPad will be sold in three capacities: 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB.

Other specs include Bluetooth 2.1 EDR, A-GPS (3G models only), accelerometer, ambient light sensor, built-in speakers and microphone. The iPad uses a lithium-polymer battery that provides up to 10 hours of life. It measures 9.56" x 7.47" x 0.5". 

Apple also announced that it will launch an e-book store for the device called iBookstore. With the free iBooks app, the iPad becomes an e-reader. Apple will use the ePub format and will enable publishers to offer content with embedded multimedia including video. Apple named five major publishing partners-- Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Hachett.

And finally--the price. The most popular quote during the months and months of rumors was $1,000. Luckily for potential buyers, the real price is much more moderate. The 16 GB version comes in at half the rumor--$499. The 32 GB will be $599 and the 64 GB will be $699. Those are Wi Fi-only models; the 3G models will be offered at $130 over those prices. The Wi Fi models will hit the market in late March and the 3G models will be available 30 days later. 

For the latter set, Apple announced a new deal with AT&T for 3G data coverage. A $15/month plan will buy users 250 MB of data while $30/month will buy unlimited data. The plans are prepaid and don't involve a contract. Also of note, the iPad will be unlocked. 

Check out Apple's website for any other details we may have missed.