Apple iPad Becomes Real
After months of rumors, speculation and unfettered anxiety over whether the Apple tablet was real and what it would be like, the anticipation has ended. At a special press event in San Francisco this week, Apple announced their new tablet device, the iPad.
Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, unveiled the sleek new product with a presentation that lasted well over an hour. It took that long to show off all the features. Basically, the device functions as an iPod Touch with a 9.7-inch multitouch screen. It can run all the apps available in the App Store, and can even upscale the apps to make them fit in a larger screen (it does not increase the resolution, though).
Some of the biggest improvements are the addition of iBooks and iWorks to the traditional iPhone functionality. iBooks allows users to download e-books from five of the largest publishers. Those e-books are stored on a virtual bookshelf, and when read they appear as actual pages of a book that can be turned with a swipe of a finger. iWorks brings productivity to the iPad by including Keynote, for presentations; Numbers, for spreadsheets; and Pages, for word processing. Those programs are available for $10 each and have a revised menu system that make them easy to use with the touchscreen interface.
Speaking of the touchscreen, it's beautiful. Many people were surprised at the aspect ratio, though. Instead of a widescreen format, which is common among devices intended for viewing video, the iPad is close to the 4:3 ratio seen in most old TVs. Regardless of the aspect ratio, the device is capable of full multitouch gesture control and operates as smoothly and as accurately as the screens on the iPhone.
There is an onscreen keyboard for typing, but Apple also created a docking accessory, sold separately of course, that connects a physical keyboard to the device. The keyboard dock will probably be essential for anyone who plans to do more than send a few emails.
The iPad isn't perfect. There are a few major flaws that prevent the iPad from truly beating the competition. It's not capable of multitasking, so there will be no typing in a document while researching on the Web. It doesn't support Flash, which means it won't display 75 percent of the video on the Web, according to Flash-maker Adobe. There is no USB port, so it's impossible to connect other devices, like external hard drives, cameras and digital camcorders to the iPad. In the same vein, there is no SD card slot, so the memory can't be expanded with removable media.
One of the biggest surprises of the press event was the price reveal. Analysts expected the iPad to be around $1000, but the actual price ranges from $500 (for 16GB of storage and no 3G data) to $830 (for 64GB of storage and 3G data). The non-3G capable models will be available in March and the 3G capable models will follow in April.
Other specs of interest:
- 1GHz Apple A4 processor
- 1024-by-768-pixel resolution with 178 degree viewing angle
- Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n)
- Bluetooth 2.1
- 3.5-mm stereo headphone jack
- Built-in speakers
- Up to 10 hours of battery life while surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music
- 9.56 x 7.47 x 0.5 inches