Rumours had been swirling around for the better part of eternity about an Apple tablet. Some proclaimed it would end world hunger. Some thought it just might cure cancer. Others believed it could make a mean cheese omelet, toast, and perfectly cooked sausage; then serve it to you in bed. However, Apple finally put the rumours to bed last week with the official unveiling of the mythical tablet: the iPad. While it doesn’t actually live up to the hype (curing cancer is a lofty goal, after all), it does look to fill in an untapped niche between the iPod Touch/iPhone 3Gs and netbooks.
First thing’s first: this thing is freakin’ beautiful. But coming from Apple would you expect anything less? It looks pretty much like an iPod, if an iPod were designed for the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk. It’s only a half inch thick, weighs 1.5 lbs, and features a gorgeous 9.7 in. LED backlit multitouch display with IPS technology (that provides better colors and a wider viewing angle). Thankfully, the screen has a fingerprint resistant coating slathered on top. Beyond that you’ve got a microphone, built in speakers, Bluetooth, 802.11n Wi-Fi, optional 3G (which runs on AT&T and comes with new data plans: 250MB for $14.99 and an unlimited plan for $29.99 a month contract-free), and an accelerometer and compass. Should you actually want to use the iPad like a real computer, additional devices can be connected via various adapters
It can run almost all the Apps currently available in the iTunes store in addition to apps designed specifically for the iPad. Current apps can be viewed either in their normal state or in a pixel doubled fullscreen mode. New to the iPad is the iBook store, where you can download and read all the classics you hated reading in middle school. Just like with the iPhone/iPod Touch, everything is managed through iTunes, whether it be books apps, music, videos, or photos.
The iPad starts at $499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB, and $699 for 64GB. Adding 3G costs an additional $130 per model, so the most expensive model (64GB / 3G) is $829. The WiFi-only model ship in March, while the 3G models will arrive in April.
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