It looks like an over-sized iPod touch, runs an OS in the mould of the iPhone but at least the world now knows its name. After months of tiresome speculation, Apple has finally launched the iPad.
Although not quite the game-changing device some had anticipated, the turtle-necked Steve Jobs offered a good enough sales pitch to convince many that the iPad will sell in healthy numbers for all sorts of uses.
Technical highlights include its 0.5cm thickness, portable 0.7 kilos (1.5 pounds) heft, and 9.7 inch multi-touch display. It will run the Apple-designed A4 processor (from acquired outfit P.A. Semi) and come with 16GB, 32GB and 64GB or flash-based memory. Precise details of the battery capacity were not made available but Jobs claimed it could last up to 10 hours on a single charge, though the built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi (and in the US 3G) might dent that.
Jobs showed off the iPad's ability to work in portrait or landscape mode, with the latter offering a capacitive keyboard for text entry. Developers will like the chance to sell iPad apps in a similar vein to the iPhone, but they will need to use the new SDK to create them. The iPad will synch with iPhone apps, however.
Otherwise, there were few clues on possible business use beyond a few niche apps. It will function as a gaming device and read eBooks in the non-proprietary EPUB format as well as let users browse behind news paywalls. The iPad runs Apple's own iWork suite.
It's pretty clear that great minds think alike and on this class of device Apple can't claim to be as far ahead of its rivals as it was with the iPhone in 2007.
At the CES Show in early January, HP accidentally-deliberately let Steve Ballmer offer a peek at a similar device, HP's Slate. The selling point of the Apple is that it has a devoted customer base while HP is just another big IT company that sells products.
UK pricing was unavailable at press time but will probably be not far off leaked figures at around £400-£500 a pop. US models will start at $499 for the 16GB flash version.
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