TECHNOLOGY It’s here (almost) - Apple’s iPad is finally announced

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Front, back and side views of Apple's iPad
It’s here (almost) – Apple’s iPad is finally shown to the world



Fergus Kelly

So, it's finally been shown to the world - Apple's iPad (not iSlate, I was wrong, nice smokescreen from Apple) has been announced at a special media event in California.
During the event eight out of the top ten topics trending on Twitter were about the device, the two websites I had hoped to follow the announcement on crashed and 115,000 people (including me) watched it streamed live on Leo Laporte's ustream.tv channel.

UPDATE Watch the whole event on Apple's website


I haven't really seen any videos of it in operation yet, other than Apple's own, and even with the glaring omission of a built in camera for Skype, the iPad looks like it has the potential to redefine mobile computing. The multi-touch interface looks slick, intuitive and simple to use and could forever change the way humans interact with computers. With the development of a book-reading application (pictured below) and announcement of an online iBook Store, I'd say that Amazon's Kindle looks doomed.

20100127_ibooks

Apple's purchase of PA Semiconductor, a developer of computer chips based on the ARM architecture found in most smartphones, has allowed them to build a chip specifically for the device. The Apple A4 runs at 1GHz, which is fairly nippy - about half the speed of my rather expensive laptop.
The power of this chip allows the device to do most of the things that most people want to do with their computer - surf the web (but not Flash-based sites), check email, look at pictures (below) and watch video.

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The screen is a 9.7-inch LED backlit IPS display, which is fairly well specced at the resolution most common on computer monitors. There was online debate about an OLED display, but it didn't materialise. This is probably down to price - Apple aggressively targetted a low price point, and OLED (which uses less power and doesn't need a backlight) is much more expensive.
Apple claims the battery will last for ten hours of use (is that Apple hours or real hours?) and for one month if not used.
The iPad comes in six configurations – 16, 32 and 64Gb of flash memory, each with a choice of WiFi-only or 3G mobile connectivity. The price is amazing if the marketing presentation is to be believed: $500 for the basic 16Gb model up to $830 for the 64Gb, 3G device. Apple hasn't announced worldwide pricing, but if it keeps its current exchange rate for euro pricing, the basic model would be €460, with the top-of the-range model at €760. Not bad for an incredibly cool computer that would be good enough for most people's needs.
Steve Jobs pointed out during the event that the Apple Store and iTunes Store now have accounts and credit-card details for 125 million people. It seems that Apple wants lots of people to buy the device and then sell them lots of apps and books. There are also a few accessories I'd like to get my hands on – a keyboard stand and dock (below), a case and an SD card and camera attachment.

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The product has to be approved by the relevant authorities, and Apple has said that the non-3G iPad will be available in 60 days (around the end of March), while the 3G-equipped model will be available in 90 days (end of April).

More images at Apple's website



UPDATE: Hands on videos



Hands on video from Financial Times journalist Chris Nuttall


Hands on video from engadget



Hands-on video of the keyboard dock from AppleInsider

(Some) technical specifications
Size and weight

Height: 9.56 inches (242.8 mm); Width: 7.47 inches (189.7 mm); Depth: 0.5 inch (13.4 mm)
Weight: 1.5 pounds (.68 kg) Wi-Fi model; 1.6 pounds (.73 kg) Wi-Fi + 3G model

Display
9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display with IPS technology
1024-by-768-pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch (ppi)

Wireless and Cellular
Wi-Fi
3G (optional)
Digital compass
Assisted GPS (Wi-Fi + 3G model)
Cellular (Wi-Fi + 3G model)

Capacity
16GB, 32GB, or 64GB flash drive

Battery and Power
Built-in 25Whr rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music
Charging via power adapter or USB to computer system

Mac system requirements
Mac computer with USB 2.0 port
Mac OS X v10.5.8 or later
iTunes 9.0 or later (free download from www.itunes.com/download)
iTunes Store account
Internet access

Windows system requirements
PC with USB 2.0 port
Windows 7, Windows Vista; Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 3 or later
iTunes 9.0 or later (free download from www.itunes.com/download)
iTunes Store account
Internet access

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