Apple CEO Steve Jobs announced the Apple iPad and the Apple iBookstore at an invitation-only event in San Francisco. Here's all the details...
The Apple iPad will be available worldwide in just 60 days. Steve Jobs described it as: "Our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price."
At the start of the speech Jobs said the iPad plugs the gap between the smartphone and laptop. He dismissed netbooks, saying they "aren't better than anything".
Jobs said netbooks were "Slow, low quality displays. They're not better than a laptop at anything, just cheaper. We don't think they're the 3rd device."
Apple's answer is the Apple iPad, which will run all Apple iPhone apps straight out of the box - either at their native size or stretched to fit the 9.7in screen. Users will be able to move apps from their iPhones to the iPad.
The Apple iPad is a slate PC that looks like a big iPhone. It has a home button and an aluminum bezel like a MacBook. The 9.7in, 4:3 touchscreen is made of glass. It's only half an inch thick, and weighs just 680g (about half a smallish laptop).
It contains a 1GHz Apple A4 chip, which is both processor and graphics. The Apple iPad will come with 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of flash solid state storage.
Connectivity is handled by 802.11n WI-Fi internet, and Bluetooth 2.1. It has an accelerometer and compass, speaker, microphone and 30-pin connector.
A hardware keyboard dock can be attached, and works in portrait and landscape modes.
To complement the Apple iPad, Apple is launching the iBookstore online store, a kind of iTunes or App Store for e-books.
At the launch, Steve Jobs said users can personalise their home screens. The iPad is also a web-browsing device. In fact, Jobs boasted: "It's the best browsing experience you've had."
Some models of the Apple iPad come with 3G connectivity. In the States this will be available through AT&T, with an up to 250MB a month deal costing $14.99. Unlimited data is $29.99. There's no contract, it's pre-pay, month-by-month.
Available in under two months, there are six Apple iPad models, ranging in price from $499 to $829. UK pricing is not yet know.
NEXT PAGE: demonstrating the Apple iPad, and battery life >>
The Apple iPad sports a touchscreen QWERTY keyboard, and will run the iWork productivity suite, making it more than a gaming and web-browsing device. Jobs demonstrated using it to type by simply popping it on his lap.
Jobs demonstrated email composition, photo-viewing on the Apple iPad. The iPad uses metadata to display the time and the place images were captured. The iPad displays this on a big map with pins in it.
Similar to the Apple iPhone, the Apple iPad can be controlled using gestures on it's touchscreen. If you tilt it, it switches from portrait to landscape resolution.
The interface resembles a cross between the iPhone interface, and Mac OS X. It utilises the extra screen space to have panes and floating windows, but also has tabbed browsing.
The Apple iPad has a calendar feature, that resembles Apple's iCal application. Video is displayed in landscape format. At the launch, Jobs demonstrated video using YouTube.
Apple iPad: battery life
He claimed that the Apple iPad will enjoy up to 10 hours of battery life in use. Jobs said that it has more than a month of sleeping battery life, and automatically goes to sleep when you put it down.
Apple's Scott Forstall demonstrated gaming on the Apple iPad, as well as painting a picture using Brushes.
NEXT: the Apple iPad, iWork and newspapers >>
He also showed off the much-vaunted newspaper application, inviting New York Times' Martin Nisenholtz on stage to read his paper. The Apple iPad is a touchstone product for the newspaper industry, which hopes that it will provide a new medium of digital delivery, easier to monetise than the open internet.
Apple says the iPad captures the essence of the reading experience. You can jump to sections, and look at articles. At the demonstration Apple's Scott Forstall said the reading experience is great: you can tap to change number of columns, and resize text at a pinch. Video is embedded, and with connectivity you can get updates of breaking news in all the sections.
Nisenholtz said he was 'excited to pioneer new journalism'.
Referring to the various software features demonstrated, Jobs said: "Isn't that awesome? They only had two, two and a half weeks to work on this. Imagine what they can do with more times."
Apple's Phill Schiller demonstrated the iWork suite. According to Macworld.com's Jason Snell: "Putting a "work" suite of apps on this device is a big deal, because it says that it's not just a toy, not just for recreation, but also for people who want to get work done. That's interesting because it broadens who Apple will sell this product to."
All the traditional productivity applications are here, including the Keynote presentation app, a word processor and spreadsheet. Input is by the touchscreen keyboard, but a dock is available with a hardware keyboard. The apps will cost $9.99 each.
Snell: "The more I see about this device, the more I start to think that Apple really does want you to replace your laptop with this thing. At least for some tasks that people currently use laptops for because there's been no other option."
The Apple iPad syncs with iTunes on your Mac/PC just like the iPhone or iPod touch. According to Jobs you can sync Photos, Music, Movies, TV shows, Contacts, Calendars, Bookmarks and Applications.
NEXT PAGE: reaction to the Apple iPad launch >>
The product's launch comes after a few years of rumours and speculation surrounding Apple's development of a tablet-like device. Media outlets and enthusiast sites reported the device would fill a product gap for Apple between its iPhone smartphone and MacBook device. The Financial Times reported in December that Apple would host an event to launch the tablet-like device in January.
But Apple isn't the first company to launch a tablet. Some of the top PC makers including Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Asus showed off multimedia tablet prototypes with different screen sizes at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month. Many of those handheld devices were based on Google's Android Linux OS and provided the ability to surf the Internet, view multimedia and read e-books.
An HP Slate running Windows 7 was shown by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer during a keynote address at CES. The Slate will ship this year. Dell also reminded everyone that it is developing a similar device, showing a tablet with a 5-inch screen.
Executives from PC companies have said the rapid growth of mobile Internet and touchscreens created a new class of tablet computing devices. But Apple has an edge over the PC makers as it has a history of introducing products like the iPhone and iPod that have changed the way devices are designed.
The rumors helped Apple define the tablet market even though it hasn't shipped a device, said Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates in a research note sent in early January. Tablet launches by other PC makers were perhaps triggered by Apple's threat to enter the market.
"One has to wonder, if Apple were not aiming at this market with its trademark accuracy, whether the rest of the industry would care so much," Kay wrote.