It’s been a long, rumor-filled road, but today Apple has finally revealed a tablet, called the iPad. Steve Jobs seemed genuinely thrilled to demo the iPad, which weighs just 1.5 pounds, is a half-inch thin, and has a 9.7-inch capacitive touchscreen IPS display. More interesting, Apple has built their own custom 1GHz processor, called the Apple A4 chip, to power the iPad. According to Jobs, the A4 chip “just screams,” and as a result, the iPad boasts a 10-hour battery life, with a full one month of standby time. You’ll be able to get one in 16, 32, or 64GB sizes,
prices listed below. Bluetoth, 802.11n Wi-Fi, speaker, microphone, and dock connector round out the offerings.
One of the big draws of the iPad is that all current iPhone apps will run just fine on it, and you can choose to run them at the original resolution, or in a pixel-doubled mode for fullscreen on the iPad. Apps can also be optimized for iPad to take advantage of the full screen resolution, as well as enhanced gestures. A new iPhone SDK, which includes iPad support, will be released later today.
The goal with the iPad is to do the tasks like web browsing, email, photo viewing, video watching, and e-book reading (Apple is including a new ereader app called iBooks) better than a netbook ever could, but also better than a smartphone ever could. The iPad has a “gorgeous” keyboard that actually looks very easy to use, and the actual built-in applications look more like the full version of OS X than what you’d find on the iPhone or iPod touch. In fact, you even get full-featured applications like iPhoto, iTunes, iBooks, and even Pages, Keynote, and Numbers in iWork for the iPad.
As far as 3G data plans, the iPad has two plans available from AT&T in the US. $14.99 per month for up to 250MB of data, or $29.99 per month for unlimited data. The best part? There are no contracts. You pay on a pre-paid month-to-month basis, so there are no cancellation fees. You activate your plan directly from the iPad, with no reason to hit an AT&T Store. All iPad 3G models are unlocked and use GSM micro SIMs, so in theory, you could get a better plan of your own elsewhere and just use that.
Let’s talk pricing - each model of the iPad is available as a Wi-Fi-only or Wi-Fi + 3G configuration. 16GB is $499 / $629, 32GB costs $499 / $729, and the 64GB model will be $699 / $829. As far as availability, iPad without 3G will start shipping at the end of March, while the 3G models will start shipping at the end of April. Choose wisely!