Apple releases full iPad details

Following Apple’s iPad launch yesterday, the company has released full details of the device, with prices starting at $499. International pricing and worldwide availability will be announced at a later date.

Intended as a catch-all device for browsing the web, reading and sending email, enjoying photos, watching videos, listening to music, playing games and reading e-books, iPad’s responsive high-resolution Multi-Touch display lets users physically interact with applications and content.

As revealed yesterday, iPad is 0.5 inches thick and weighs 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg), with a 9.7-inch LED-backlit IPS display. The device includes 12 new apps designed especially for the iPad, and will run almost all the 140,000 apps in the App Store.

“iPad is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iPad creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.”

Hardware specs

iPad’s 9.7-inch, LED-backlit display features IPS technology to deliver crisp, clear images and consistent colour with a very wide 178 degree viewing angle. The capacitive Multi-Touch display is intended to be accurate and responsive whether scrolling web pages or playing games. The intelligent soft keyboard pioneered on iPhone takes advantage of iPad’s larger display to offer an almost full-size soft keyboard. iPad also connects to the new iPad Keyboard Dock with a full-size traditional keyboard.

iPad is powered by A4, a next-generation system-on-a-chip designed by Apple. The company claims the new A4 chip provides exceptional processor and graphics performance along with long battery life of up to 10 hours. Apple further claims that its advanced chemistry and Adaptive Charging technology will deliver up to 1,000 charge cycles without a significant decrease in battery capacity over a typical five-year lifespan.

iPad comes in two versions – one with Wi-Fi and the other with both Wi-Fi and 3G. iPad includes the latest 802.11n Wi-Fi, and the 3G versions support speeds up to 7.2 Mbps on HSDPA networks. In the US, Apple and AT&T have announced 3G pre-paid data plans for iPad with on-device activation and management.

Aiming to avoid to boost Apple’s green credentials, each iPad enclosure is made of highly recyclable aluminium and comes standard with energy-efficient LED-backlit displays that are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass. iPad contains no brominated flame retardants and is completely PVC-free.

Apps & App developers

Each of the next-generation Multi-Touch applications works in both portrait and landscape mode, automatically animating between views as the user rotates iPad in any direction. Apple claims the precise Multi-Touch interface makes surfing the web on iPad an entirely new experience, dramatically more interactive and intimate than on a computer. You can read and send email using the screen and “soft” keyboard or import photos from a Mac, PC or digital camera, see them organised as albums, and share them using iPad’s slideshows. The device is also able to display movies, TV shows and Web video content in HD. Apple proposes a scenario of users flipping through pages of an e-book downloaded from Apple’s new iBookstore while listening to their music collection.

iPad runs almost all of the over 140,000 apps on the App Store, as well as all the content on the iTunes store. Apple also announced the new iBooks app for iPad, which includes Apple’s new iBookstore, a way to browse, buy and read books on the mobile device. The iBookstore will feature books from major and independent publishers.

Apple also introduced a new version of iWork for iPad, the first desktop-class productivity suite designed specifically for Multi-Touch. With Pages, Keynote and Numbers in the suite, you can create formatted documents, presentations with animations and transitions, and spreadsheets with charts, functions and formulas. The three apps will be available separately through the App Store.

iPad syncs with iTunes in the same way as the iPhone and iPod touch, using the standard Apple 30-pin to USB cable. All the apps and content downloaded on iPad from the App Store, iTunes Store and iBookstore will be automatically synced to a iTunes library the next time the user connects with their computer.

Apple has also released a new Software Development Kit (SDK) for iPad, so developers can create new applications designed to take advantage of iPad’s capabilities. The SDK includes a simulator that lets developers test and debug their iPad apps on a Mac, and also lets developers create Universal Applications that run on iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

Pricing & Availability

iPad will be available in late March worldwide for a suggested retail price of $499 (US) for the 16GB model, $599 (US) for the 32GB model, $699 (US) for the 64GB model. The Wi-Fi + 3G models of iPad will be available in April in the US and selected countries for a suggested retail price of $629 (US) for the 16GB model, $729 (US) for the 32GB model and $829 (US) for the 64GB model.

The device will be sold through the Apple Store, Apple’s retail stores and select Apple Authorised Resellers. International pricing and worldwide availability will be announced at a later date. iBookstore will be available in the US at launch.

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