The iPad has Arrived
It seems like forever ago that chatter first started about Apple releasing a tablet computer. After years of speculation and a never-ending rumor mill, Apple has finally released the iPad, its take on tablet computing.
The iPad weighs 1.5 pounds (1.6 pounds for the 3G model), and measures a mere 0.5-inches thick. The screen measures 9.7-inches, and the dimensions are 9.56-inches tall and 7.47-inches wide.
The iPad is very similar to the iPod Touch/iPhone platform in several ways. For starters, the SSD hard drives are the same capacities that you'll find in the smaller devices, starting at 16 GB and going up to 64 GB. The iPad also has the marquee home button on the front, as well as power, volume controls and a dedicated mute button. In Contrast, the iPad has a much wider bezel on all sides compared to its smaller relatives. Since you'll be using both hands with an iPad, the larger bezel should make the experience less error-filled, since your hands won't be touching the screen at all times.
The most exciting aspect of the iPad for me is the processor. the A4 chip is the fruit born from Apple's acquisition of PA Semiconductor back in 2008. The A4 operates at 1GHz, and is efficient enough to allow for 10 hours of battery life on a single charge. During the iPad event, Steve Jobs claimed that you could fly from San Francisco to Tokyo and watch video on your iPad the entire time. Since Tegra-powered tablets are putting up similar numbers, this isn't far-fetched at all.
While Intel chips will have a home in Apple's desktop and notebook lines for the near future (and probably beyond), the A4 is the first in-house chip used by Apple since the G5.
Two Flavors: 3G and Wi-Fi
The iPad will be available in two major categories. The cheaper of the two equips the iPad with Wi-Fi only, so you'll need a wireless router or a Starbucks to get online. However, for an additional $130 per size, the iPad comes with built-in 3G and a micro SIM card slot for GSM carriers. Even better are the data plans: $15 for 250 MB a month, or $30 for unlimited data. Both plans are through AT&T.
Also, you'll notice in the above picture that the 3G iPads have a black strip on the top. We don't know if it's just aesthetic or if it serves a purpose, but it does provide you with a quick-glance visual differentiation.
The iPad has Wi-Fi (802.11) and optional 3G, as well as Bluetooth 2.1. For physical connectors, the tablet has a 30-pin connector on the bottom, similar to the iPhone and iPod Touch. you'll also see the speaker on the bottom-right.
Too thin for a physical keyboard, the iPad is using a virtual keyboard similar to the iPod Touch and iPhone. The iPad has a capacitive multitouch IPS display, and from the images supplied thus far, it works exactly like its predecessors.
Surfing with the iPad
From what we can see, the iPad uses the same Safari browser found on the iPod Touch and iPhone. This means you'll get the same kind of accelerometer-assisted surfing experience, so you can turn the iPad to landscape and the Web will follow suit. Of course, the browser has the same pitfalls, too, like no Flash support.
One of the biggest features for the iPad is iBooks, Apple's answer to Amazon's eReader bookstore. iBooks is for reading material what iTunes is for music, and Apple has already signed agreements with with likes of McGraw-Hill, Penguin and Simon & Schuster. Prices are TBA, and probably depend on a titles hardcover status, but expect rates competitive with Amazon.
Running Apps on the iPad
The App Store is a cash cow for Apple, so its a no-brainer to see the outlet brought to the iPad. All applications with run on the iPad out of the box, in two modes. You can either run the app in its native (iPhone/iPod Touch) resolution, or the iPad can upscale the app to fit its screen. Also, apps with higher-res interfaces are already being developed by Gameloft, EA and the New York Times.
Accessories - Case
Two months away from launch, and Apple already has a line of accessories at the ready. The iPad case is leather, and when it isn't protecting the screen, it doubles as a stand.
Accessories - Case (closed position)
Here is the case in the closed position.
Accessories - Camera Connector Kit
The only physical connector on the iPad is the 30-pin connector on the bottom. However, Apple wants users to use the iPad as a photo editor and viewer, so the camera connectors are useful in this capacity. There are two: one gives you a USB port for attaching a camera, and the other converts the 30-pin connector into an SD card slot.
Accessories - Keyboard Dock
The iPad has no physical keyboard, so Apple designed a dock with a built-in keyboard for using on a desk. This should make writing those emails and iWork documents a lot easier! Keep in mind, however, that you can't dock the device when it is horizontal in landscape mode (no docking when reading iBooks, playing games, or watching movies).
Here is the final pricing rubric for the iPad. As previously mentioned, there are two devices types: one with 3G and one with Wi-Fi only. Both types are available with three different-sized storage options, ranging from 16-64 GB.