Steve Jobs unveils Apple's iPad tablet

Steve Jobs unveils Apple's iPad tablet

Summary: The much-anticipated iPad has a 9.7-inch screen, weighs around 700g and runs on an ARM-based processor

TOPICS: Hardware

Apple has finally unveiled the iPad, its much-anticipated tablet computer.

On Wednesday, Apple chief Steve Jobs went on stage at the Moscone Center in San Francisco to introduce the device, which handles e-books and email, as well as images, music, video, games and web browsing.

In his presentation, Jobs described the iPad as "so much more intimate than a laptop and so much more capable than a smartphone". He also derided the netbook phenomenon, saying the cheap mini-laptops "aren't better than anything".

Closely resembling a larger iPhone, the device is fully compatible with existing iPhone applications and is based on Apple's own custom ARM-based processor, the A4, which runs at 1GHz.

The iPad has a high-definition, 9.7-inch in-plane switching (IPS) LCD touchscreen, which allows for a 178-degree viewing angle — wider than rival screen types — and has 1024x768 pixels resolution. It also supports multitouch input, and optional extras include a keyboard dock.

Two types of iPad will be available: one with 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, and one with just Wi-Fi, Jobs said.

The Wi-Fi-only model will ship globally in two months' time. In the US, its price will range from $499 (£309) to $699, depending on the storage capacity, which ranges from 16GB to 64GB.

Versions with added 3G will cost an extra $130 and will ship in 90 days' time, Jobs said.

"We want to put this in the hands of lots of people," Jobs said, referring to the pricing for the device.

For the launch, Apple has made a number of partnership deals for content applications. It has drafted in media firms such as The New York Times Company, which have created newspaper and magazine apps that can run in-page videos on their virtual pages for the iPad.

The device is also an e-reader, through a new application called iBooks. A new iBookstore lets users download e-books to their iPad, in much the same way as Amazon customers can do with the Kindle. Publishing houses that have signed up to provide content include Penguin, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette and Macmillan.

In addition, Apple has introduced a version of its iWork productivity suite tailored to the iPad. Users can create presentations, spreadsheets and documents using a redesigned, gesture-based user interface.

It can be used for personal information management, virtual painting and mapping services.

Existing iPhone applications can run on the iPad, either in a small box at the original resolution, or scaled up to use the full screen. A new version of the iPhone software development kit (SDK) has been released that is compatible with the iPad, so that developers can write apps for it.

The device, which has a virtual keyboard, weighs about 700g, is about 13mm thick. Jobs claimed a 10-hour battery life for the iPad. Other features include Bluetooth 2.1+EDR, a compass, an accelerometer and 802.11n Wi-Fi.

Like the iPhone, the iPad does not support Flash. It does play high-definition movies and YouTube videos, and it automatically orientates the screen to landscape or portrait mode, according to the direction in which is being held.

UK pricing for the iPad's 3G data plans has not yet been confirmed. However, Jobs said that US carrier AT&T will offer two levels of data plan: 250MB a month for $14.99, or unlimited for $29.99 per month. He added that the iPad will not be locked to a particular carrier.

Both AT&T deals include free use of the operator's Wi-fi hotspots. Jobs said that deals through international carriers would be announced by June.

Topic: Hardware

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • E-Books are a complete red herring

    The idea that Apple is going to disrupt publishing with iBooks in the same way it did the music industry with iTunes is to completely misunderstand how the market for books is going to develop.

    I have tried the e-reader software on the iPhone and other devices and no matter how good it is supposed to be reading on a screen is just not comfortable. Not for reasons of eye-strain so much as of distraction. Knowing the device you hold in your hands is capable of letting you watch a movie of browse the web means that its hard to concentrate and lose yourself in reading in the same way as holding a novel.

    But more importantly - e-books are fundamentally a red herring. Why go to the effort of reading a page of text at all - when the device you are holding is capable of rendering the author's voice or even a cast of actors to you at the press of a button. And what is more, audiobooks are portable and can be listened to on the move. The future of publishing is not the replacement of books with e-books but the return to the oral tradition of story-telling which is word of mouth - something that Stephen Fry has argued predates the written word by thousands of years.

    E-books are at best a transitional technology with a niche audience - novels will endure and in the meantime the popularity of audio-books will grow.
    Andrew Donoghue
  • Obviously...

    From your article you do not do a lot reading, people who travel on trains for example do do a fair amount of reading and providing the cost of the so called e-readers become lower as well as the cost of e-books people will turn to eventually turn to them in greater numbers.

    Not everybody wants to hear the written word, Silence is sometimes Golden!
  • Avid reader actually

    I do a lot of reading actually - even on trains but I also download a lot of audoibooks too. I can possible see that e-books might catch-on when it comes to bulky reference books - especially when it comes to Rough Guides and Lonely Planet for example - the bane of any travelers ruck-sack weight limit.

    But I just don't think the like of the Kindle and now the iPad are the way to go when it comes to replacing novels. I am not anti-technology in anyway and think publishing is ripe for the sort of shake-up that has hit the music industry but I am not sure that e-books and e-readers are the right answer - at least not in their current form.

    Our earliest experience of story-telling is having someone read to you and it's the most comforting and approachable way to consume stories. Up til now audio-books have been collected on multiple cassette's or CDs and just not practical but digital audio-books solve most of those problems.

    Check out what Stephen Fry has to say on this: (this service is for people with reading-problems but the message is universal)

    "The companionship and delight of a voice telling stories is incomparable."
    Andrew Donoghue
  • but the battery life is?

    Interesting to see the iBooks element and I hope it really helps to make the eReader market, certainly theres a lack of current books available (plenty of back fill but not the latest necessarily).

    Does anyone know how this works in sunlight? The Sony eReaders work well due to their E Ink technology allowing them to be read in bright sun light without glare (tried it in Egypt).

    The other thing to consider for an eReader is battery life.... not looking at the iPhone, that aint great, so how will this compare. eReader but you cant sit by the pool all day without the extension cable to charge it? Not great for those people or indeed those that have early morning starts and later trains back in the city.

    I'll wait and see for the eReader element.
  • If Apple can't. who can?

    No-one seems quite sure whether tablet devices will catch on, but all I can think is that if Jobs & Apple can't make them objects of desire, I don't think anyone will!
  • Stephen Fry Thinks iPad and iBooks are "game-changing"

    Ok - so Stephen Fry might not be with me on the whole e-book red herring thing but hey ;-) He doesn't get into audiobooks versus e-books but clear that he is impressed with iPad as an e-reader.

    Stephen Fry's verdict of Apple's iPad touchscreen tablet. Actor and famous twitterer Stephen Fry has tested the iPad. He sent Newsnight this exclusive message about what he makes of it.
    Andrew Donoghue
  • Re: Avid reader actually

    Just to say that I agree with Andrew and his supporters all the way. A real book or an audio book. Libraries are, after all, free.
    The Former Moley
  • A load of...

    Crap would not touch with a ten foot barge pole! propriety lock down on steroids, want a keyboard?