San Francisco – Apple (NASD: AAPL) on Wednesday
unveiled its long-anticipated tablet computer, the "iPad," at a media
event in San Francisco.
The device, which will cost between $500 and $830 when it ships in coming
months, is a half-inch thin, weighs 1.5 lbs., and sports a 9.7-inch display
with virtual keyboard, built-in speakers and microphone. "It looks like,
well, a big iPhone, pretty much as anticipated," The New York Times wrote
on its live blog of the event.
The device will be available with 16GB, 32GB or
64GB of Flash-based storage. For connectivity, it features free AT&T (NYSE: T) Wi-Fi hotspots,
Bluetooth and AT&T 3G service, costing $15 for up to 250MB of data per
month, to $29 per month for unlimited data.
Pricing for the iPad will depend on
amount of memory and whether the version supports 3G; a 16GB version without 3G
costs $500, while the 3G version will sell for $630.
Apple said the iPad offers
10 hours of battery life, with over a month of standby life.
On the software
front, the iPad will ship with a built-in calendar, address book, Maps
application, and iTunes Store.
On stage at the event, Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs
said the App Store now counts 140,000 applications, which have been downloaded
3 billion times.
For the iPad, users can access applications as they would
appear on the iPhone, or in automated "pixel-doubled" version that
makes the apps run "full screen." The company also said developers
will be able to modify their applications to take advantage of the iPad’s
Jobs showed off the how the device’s size allows it to more
properly display newspaper websites, including Time.com and NYTimes.com, and
was joined on stage by Martin Nisenholtz, senior vice president of digital
operations for The New York Times Company.
A new iBooks application for the
iPad will let users download e-books directly from the iTunes Store in the EPUB
format. Apple touted support from publishers including Penguin, HarperCollins,
Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Hachette.
Several of the bloggers covering
the event reiterated a potential concern with regard to watching long-form
video on a tablet computer: that a user would have to prop the device up on her
lap, or else peer down at it resting on a flat surface — with the alternative
being to hold it at an angle for two-plus hours during a movie.
A dock accessory
announced appears to serve as a prop for the device; Apple will also a physical
keyboard accessory for the iPad, that doubles as a battery charger.
without 3G will ship in 60 days, while the 3G models will ship in 90; while pre-orders
are not yet available, the company is offering an email notification service.