Apple unveils the iPad

The long awaited device will be available in multiple models, both with and without unlocked 3G hardware, and will be available in 60 days for the Wi-Fi models, 90 days for the 3G models. The shipping hardware closely resembles some of the prototypes we’ve seen in the past few months, and exactly matches some leaked photos that turned up just today at a message board on the Chinese site “Weiphone”.

iPad

The device itself is 9.56″ tall, 7.47″ wide, and 0.5″ at its thickest point. Weight is a super-light 1.5lbs for the Wi-Fi model and 1.6lbs for the 3G model.

The entire front face is optical quality, oleophobic glass, just like the iPhone, and features just one single home button on the bottom face, but does include both a volume rocker and a mute button on the side, and the classic power button on the top edge. The back surface, which comes up around the sides to protect the glass and to give it strength, is aluminum like the current model Macbook Pro.

The device uses a custom Arm based application processor made specifically for Apple using talent acquired from PA-Semi. Dubbed the “A4”, the chip operates at a speed of 1ghz, giving it enough power to handle the advanced applications that will soon be available.

In addition to the screaming fast processor, the device also features –

  • A 9.7″ IPS Display with LED backlighting, with a resolution of 1024×768
  • 16gb, 32gb or 64gb of flash storage
  • 3G data connection using micro-SIM on some models, compatible with AT&T but unlocked(!!!!!)
  • 802.11n wireless
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • Accelerometer
  • Compass
  • Speaker
  • Microphone
  • Dock Connector
  • 25Whr battery, which gives 10 hours of “surfing the web” with 1 month of standby time
  • Video output support @ 480p using the Component video cable

Conspicuously absent is any mention of a built-in camera of any kind.

Apple says the device will support the following 3G bands:

  • UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz)
  • GSM/EDGE (850, 900,1800, 1900 MHz)

Accessories to make using the iPad easier will be available at launch, including a keyboard dock:

iPad Dock

…..a special case which folds up to protect the screen, and which helps orient it in vertical and horizontal positions for use on a table:

iPad Case

There will also be dock adapters available for connecting cameras and an SD card reader, which will also be available at launch. Apple says you will be able to import videos and photos directly on the device, rather than requiring the additional step of syncing with iTunes on a desktop first.

Dock Connectors

The pricing will be simple but there are a variety of options based on size and 3G options:

Storage 16 GB 32 GB 64 GB
Wi-Fi $499 $599 $699
Wi-Fi + 3G $629 $729 $829

Now on to the software. The iPad, which runs a close cousin of the iPhone OS, will be capable of running existing iPhone applications out of the box, both in fullscreen mode using pixel-doubling, or in a small letterboxed window in the middle of the screen to emulate the size of the smaller iPhone. Major iPhone developers were invited on stage today to demo games such as Nova and Need For Speed: Shift running in full screen mode, and the results look promising.

When the keyboard dock is not in use, the operating system makes an on-screen keyboard available that closely resembles the one found on the iPhone, but with a much larger surface area and bigger keys.

Featured prominently during the event was the iTunes Mobile application, which now more closely resembles the desktop version, complete with a sidebar of items such as Music and Podcasts and the characteristic play button and scrubber at the top of the screen. The iPad version of iTunes also features windowed overlays that present additional information, such as track listings and cover art for an album.

Also featured was a new Apple built application called iBooks, which the company says will be available at launch with content from a long list of publishers, including educational textbook providers. iBooks will support the standard ePub format, and provides a virtual bookshelf giving the user an overview of their library. Content can be viewed as a full page display when the device is oriented vertically, and a dual-page view when held in widescreen orientation.

Apple also demoed iPad versions of their iWork applications, including Keynote, Pages and Numbers, each available for $9.99. Contrary to pundit claims prior to the announcement, the iPad most certainly IS a content creation device, and Apple says it will also be possible to connect a projector to the dock for presentations in the office.


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