What you need to know about Apple’s iPad tablet computer

Jan 27, 2010
Games

After years of speculation, Apple’s iPad tablet device is finally here. As widely expected, the iPad combines elements of the iPhone and Apple’s MacBook laptop computer. While Apple’s “latest creation” won’t be available until March, we explain how the iPad (which starts at $499) is different from Netbooks, eReaders and smart phones already available in […]

After years of speculation, Apple’s iPad tablet device is finally here. As widely expected, the iPad combines elements of the iPhone and Apple’s MacBook laptop computer. While Apple’s “latest creation” won’t be available until March, we explain how the iPad (which starts at $499) is different from Netbooks, eReaders and smart phones already available in the marketplace.   

How much does the iPad cost and when it be available to consumers? 

While a tablet computer coming from Apple was the worst-kept secret of 2010, the iPad’s starting $499 price-point is a major surprise and will have the Amazons, Microsofts and HPs of the world scrambling to come up with an answer. The most stripped down version of the device is Wi Fi-enabled and has 16GB of storage. A 32GB version of the iPad will be available for $599, while one with 64 GB of storage will cost $699. About one month after hitting the market, three additional models of the iPad will debut with 3G wireless connectivity and will retail for $629 (16GB), $729 (32GB) and $829 (64 GB). 

Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs said that the first shipment of iPads (which will not be 3G-enabled) are expected to be available to consumers in 60 days. The 3G-enabled devices will likely be available one month thereafter. 

The iPad will also come with additional monthly data costs through AT&T (the carrier that handles the iPhone) to access 3G cellular connections. The cheapest consumers will pay for data is $14.99 per month (limit 250 MG). An unlimited data package will be available for $29.99 per month. There will be no startup or cancellation costs to pay in addition to the monthly fee. Further, AT&T will not charge a fee to access any of its WiFi hotspots. You won’t be able to make phone calls from the device.

How big is it? 

The iPad has a screen size of 9.7 inches (similar to Amazon’s Kindle), but with 1024X768 Pixel resolution. The device weighs 1.5 pounds and is .5-inch thin, making it smaller than any Netbook currently available. Similar to the iPhone and iPod touch, the iPad tablet does not require an external keyboard (although you will be able to attach one to it) as its “fully capacitive” multi-touch display technology will enable you to type directly onto the screen. 

What are its storage and speed capabilities?

The iPad will run on a 1 GHz Apple A4 Chip, and, similar to the iPod, comes with either 16GB, 32GB and 64GB of flash storage capabilities. The battery for the iPad lasts for 10 hours (even while watching video), and can operate on idle time for up to one month.

Does it have a camera, speakers and the iPhone’s accelerometer?

Surprisingly, the iPad does not come equipped with a camera, although it does accommodate a myriad of photo applications to enhance digital pictures after they are taken. The iPad does come with speakers and a microphone, as well as an accelerometer feature that allows you to view the device in landscape and portrait mode. One added bonus is a compass.  Like the iPhone, the 3G-enabled version of the iPad will have GPS capabilities.

And what about the apps? 

The iPad’s OS X operating system will enable it to showcase the nearly 140,000 apps already available to the iPhone and iPod touch “right out of the box,” said Jobs, who added that “a new generation of apps will be designed specifically” for the new device. Already, game developers like Gameloft and EA Mobile and publishers like the New York Times have created new versions of their apps specially tailored for the iPad.

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Brad Spirrison

Brad Spirrison is the managing editor of appoLearning and Appolicious Inc. In this capacity, he has sampled and evaluated thousands of iOS and Android applications. He also holds an M.A. in Education and Media Ecology from New York University.

Spirrison worked in concert with appoLearning Expert and Instructional Technology Specialist Leslie Morris while curating and evaluating educational applications.

A longtime media and technology commentator and executive, Spirrison is also a regular contributor to ABC News, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Bloomberg West and The Christopher Gabriel Program.

Spirrison is married and lives with his wife and young son in Chicago. As his son was born just weeks before the debut of the iPad, Spirrison takes his work home with him and regularly samples and enjoys a variety of educational applications for young children.

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