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Apple introduces the iPad and iBooks

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Apple, iPad, tabletWhat do you know? McGraw-Hill CEO Harold McGraw was on the money yesterday when he said Apple would announce a tablet on Wednesday. The iPad now has officially arrived, weighing in at less than a kilogram, with a 25-centimeter LED-backlit display that is just over a centimeter thick. It will be available by the end of March with a price tag starting at $499.

The iPad, which marries a tablet computer with an electronic book reader, is less about cutting-edge technology and more about clever ways to package that technology to deliver a variety of content. Tablets have been available for nearly a decade (the concept of an electric clipboard goes back even further) and the e-reader market already has several success stories, most notably the Amazon Kindle.

From Apple’s description, the iPad is essentially a continuation of the multimedia and communications technology the company has been making since it introduced the iPod in 2001. Now, in addition to having a mobile, multi-touch screen device for listening to music, playing video games, e-mailing and surfing the Web, Apple fans will also be able to read electronic books with the help of the new iBook application (books bought through the new iBookstore, of course). The book that Apple CEO Steve Jobs demonstrated during his presentation at the iPad launch event on Wednesday costs $15.

Jobs made sure to acknowledge Amazon’s role in popularizing the e-reader, adding that Apple would now "stand on their shoulders" and go farther, TechCrunch reported.

Tablet PCs have been a hard sell, which is likely why Apple chose not to use "tablet" in its new product’s name. Tablets introduced by Acer, Compaq and others in the 2001 timeframe had some interesting features in their time, including handwriting recognition that could (usually) convert stylus scribbles into readable text or could display digital doodles and diagrams. But that generation of tablets (which sold for $1,500 or more) was primarily designed to use the Windows operating system and function as a next-generation laptop rather than a multimedia device for reading books, playing video games and watching video.

Microsoft has taken up with Apple’s competition in the emerging market for e-reader/mobile multimedia devices. During his keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer demonstrated a number of new "Slate PC" devices running Windows 7, which will go on sale later this year. Ballmer called these Slate PCs (there were devices from Hewlett-Packard, Archos and Pegatron) "almost as portable as a phone and as powerful as a PC running Windows 7." The Archos 9 PCtablet sells for $550, but the HP and Pegatron’s devices exist only as prototypes at this time.  

Apple also appears to continue to respond to critics such as Greenpeace, which has cautioned consumer electronics vendors against the use of toxic materials when making their gadgets. Jobs also pointed out that the iPad is free of arsenic, BFR, mercury and PVC, and is "highly recyclable."

Every iPad has Wi-Fi and some models will also offer 3G connectivity to the Web (those models start shipping by the end of April and will cost as much as $829). Battery life is expected to be up to 10 hours. Under the hood, the iPad runs on a 1-gigahertz processor called the A4 and can have up to 64 gigabytes of storage. Data plans are available through AT&T without iPad users having to sign a contract.

iPad image courtesy of Apple

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  1. 1. JamesDavis 4:33 pm 01/27/2010

    I am glad it finally arrived, and at an almost affordable price.

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  2. 2. Aus_Roh 7:00 pm 01/27/2010

    The iPad reminds me of the Oxford "Pocket" Dictionary.

    And why the big frame around the screen? Is that so it looks like an iMac?

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  3. 3. kfreels 8:53 pm 01/27/2010

    Wow. I’m underwhelmed. All this hype for a more expensive device that is more diffcult to carry than a phone and does less than a notebook. And I bet you still can’t change your own battery.

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  4. 4. bmsealy 1:06 am 01/28/2010

    iWorthless. Just another ploy to borg people into buying more crap from an Apple – "iBookstore". If you want to read books online you can get a Kindle DX with FREE 3G wireless coverage in the U.S. and have much greater access to more books. This is just an overgrown iPhone without the phone. Why didn’t they give it the ability to connect via Bluetooth and have a phone appl instead of having to have yet another i-Hardware device to use? All of the appl’s – most of them are useless from a business standpoint. What, are you going to go around making light saber noises with it too?

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  5. 5. GHynson 7:01 am 01/28/2010

    Any word on the Microsoft Courier?
    I’m so hoping MS goes through with it.

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  6. 6. GHynson 7:01 am 01/28/2010

    Any word on the Microsoft Courier?
    I’m so hoping MS goes through with it.

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  7. 7. jen.philosopher 7:50 am 01/28/2010

    One of the benefits of e-readers is the e-ink technology that prevents eyestrain when read for long periods of time. This ipad has a backlit led screen which is terrible for the eyes, especially in low light situations. I have a Sony e-reader and I love the e-ink. My eyes are just as comfortable with it as they are with traditional books. I can’t imagine curling up with the ipad in bed and going to bed with an eye strain headache. If I’m going to spend money on another e-reader, I’ll spend $399 for the new Sony daily edition with free access to a wireless connection and the ability to buy books from pretty much any ebook store.

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  8. 8. ripps 5:26 pm 02/6/2010

    Neigh sayers have your fun. I for one can’t wait to get one. I’m also getting one each for my 5 year old and my 26 year old. My 26 year old has gone through 3 pc laptops in 3 years. My wife’s laptop lasted her a year both my daughter and my wife’s machines were major PC brands. My Macbook is 3 years old. It has been dropped, bumped, and used until the battery has gone dead several times. I use it as a portable audio recording work station and it has never let me down. I’m using it right now. My bet is the iPad will last a lot longer be easier to use than a similar devise made by some other company. You can save money at first, that is easy to do, but you will end up paying more in a few years, with a lot more frustration. What is your time as well as peace of mind worth.

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  9. 9. Guardian54 4:33 pm 03/8/2010

    Oh please, video games? the only type of video game worth playing will hurt your arm badly if you try it on a touchscreen. The screen is the size of a netbook but it has less capability, if you really have to you can use your netbook for an e-reader.

    ripps, your 26 year old went through 3 laptops in 3 years FOR A REASON!!! PC LEAPS FORWARD while Mac stays where it is. If the battery has gone dead several times on you you can’t say it has never failed you.
    The iPad will last longer because Apple worshippers will keep it on an altar instead of using it, that’s assuming they don’t invent a stasis pod and put the first production run iPad into it to worship. And let’s not forget that discarded stuff in the basement lasts longer than in-use stuff. The iPad is the size of a netbook with less than half the capabilities… useless other than for those teenagers who want the most hip product they can find… (I’m a teen too, but I’m not stupid enough to buy this product.)

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