More specs on the iPad: Price from $499!

Posted on by Mike Evans

The new iPad weighs 1.5 pounds, half the weight of the MacBook Air, and is 1/2in thick. It runs on an Apple-manufactured 1GHz A4 processor which, as demonstrated in San Francisco, is pretty fast. Battery life is claimed to be up to 10 hours. The iPad has a 9.7in screen and will come in 16, 32 and 64GB storage capacities. It will run all iPhone apps "out of the box" and, in some cases, double-pixel mode can increase the size of the image. There's a new iPad SDK out; this will enable developers to customise applications for the larger screen real estate.

Visually, the iPad looks like a monster iPhone, but with a much larger border than on the phone. 

The virtual keyboard is a huge version of the iPhone offering, but so far I have seen no comments on how this will be used in relation to viewing angle (see my earlier post of this potential problem for text-intensive applications). 

Some of the standard built-in apps, such as Contacts, Calendar and Mail, have been enhanced to make full use of the iPad screen. They look very appealing, especially the full-screen month view in the calendar. There are major enhancements to photo viewing with what appears to be an iPad version of iPhoto.

Forty minutes into the presentation and there has been no mention of multi-tasking, one of the most requested features for the iPhone and, I suggest, an essential for the iPad if it is going to be as successful as Apple hope. 

Now we come to my favourite area: ebooks. There's a new iPad app called iBooks complete with an iBook Store. How exciting is this? The display on the iPad looks gorgeous and I'm already convinced this is a better reading experience than that of, say, the Kindl or the Sony Reader. But, I'm wondering, is it as versatile? Would I carry the iPad around as I do the Sony Reader, stuffed in a jacket pocket. Probably not. 

And another hobby-horse area: There's to be a version of iWork for the iPad. Looks good, but I'm already wondering if I can access my documents which are all stored on the Dropbox folder. I suspect not and it might be a case of back to the drawing board. We really need that elusive multi-tasking, I fear. 

Also, with large amounts of text to edit, we're back to the old problem of angle--do you want a flat-on-the-desk keyboard or an angled screen. Seems like you can't have both. But months ago we heard commentators sounding the death knell of the physical keyboard, so the iPad's full-size virtual board is probably the way to go. The iWord application demonstrates effectively the use of context-sensitive keyboards. We just need to solve that angle problem. One thing is sure, the iWork application opens the floodgates for grown-up, Mac-style productivity programs that could prove the iPad is a genuine alternative to a larger laptop. 

At last: Steve says all iPads will be unlocked and can take 3G SIM cards. So no more locking into a particular carrier and full ability to switch SIMs when travelling abroad. With built-in wifi, users will have the ability to put the SIM in the iPad or use an external router such as the Novatel MiFi. Great.

Now to the price. iPads will start (in the USA) at $499 the 16GB model, $599 for the 32GB and $799 for the 64GB machine. This is a real surprise and, frankly, sets the seal of success on the iPad even before it has appeared in Apple Stores. There's one snag, though: These prices are for iPod Touch-style non-3G models. If you want 3G capability you can add $130 to each of the above prices. Bit steep for a 3G module, methinks.

Availability: wifi models in 60 days, 3G models in 90 days--worldwide. 

And a keyboard dock! MacOldie's cockles are well warmed now. This answers the problem of typing angle I've been banging on about earlier in this post, despite the fact that the massive iPad looks a tad precarious on that dock.  Now I'm wondering if carrying and iPad PLUS an iPad keyboard dock is going to be better than carrying a MacBook Air. It's a conundrum, but at least I have a couple of months to make up my mind. 

No word on multi-tasking. Bah!

(thanks to Engadget for their live feed from San Francisco)

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