You want the facts without the fluff and the specs without the spin? We’ve got ‘em…
Apple’s long-awaited touchscreen tablet turned out to be a bigger, flatter and essentially souped-up iPod Touch, but making the expected play towards eBooks – supported by a new iBook online store – alongside Web browsing, email, music, videos games and apps.
will be released globally at the end of March starting at US$499 with a 16GB solid state drive. We’re awaiting confirmation from Apple as to the Aussie price, but we’re tipping at least $599 (based on the current exchange rate plus 10% GST), and $649 wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility.
A 32GB edition will sell for US$599 (at least A$730 inc. GST) and 64GB for US$699 (A$850 inc. GST).
However, this first shipment of the iPad will be fitted only with 802.11n Wi-Fi.
A model equipped with 3G (7.2 Mbps HSDPA) for Internet access and downloading content – but apparently not for making phone calls – “will be available in the US and selected countries” at the end of April for an extra US$130 (A$160 inc GST) extra on the price tag of the Wi-Fi models.
While there’s no hard word on if Australia will be among the first of those countries, Steve Jobs made a point of calling out the pre-paid data plans which Apple and AT&T will be providing for the iPad in the US – US$15 for 250MB and US$30 ‘unlimited’ – and it seems Apple is intent on driving similar pre-paid contract-free deals in other markets.
“We hope to have our international deals in the June-July timeframe” Jobs stated. “We think we can do a lot in June, we’ll start on that tomorrow.” However, this doesn’t mean that we will have to wait until mid-year to see the iPad: unlike the US, which is a single-carrier market for the iPad (as with the iPhone, AT&T has exclusive rights to the device), all four Australian carriers stock the iPhone and all have pre-paid broadband on the menu.
This should make it relatively easy for Apple Australia to sort out what mobile broadband bundles it wants the 3G iPad to be offered with.
The iPad sports a 9.7 inch screen, is 1.27cm thin and weights 680 grams including the non-removable battery.
Battery life is rated at “up to 10 hours”, although during his presentation Jobs quoited this as being 10 hours for video playback — if so, less CPU intensive tasks such as eBook reading and Web browsing should stretch this a little further. Standby time is rated at one month.
The iPad’s powerplant is Apple’s own silicon – a brand-new 1GHz processor called the A4. This uses a ‘system on a chip’ design and was created by PA Semi, the processor firm which Apple acquired in 2008.
The iPad’s version of OS X appears to be a superset of the iPhone OS with features such as a context-sensitive pop-up menus, customisable backgrounds and a Mac-like 3D dock.
As such, the iPad can support “virtually every iPhone app unmodified right out of the box”, promised Apple’s iPhone software veep Scott Forstall.
The apps can run in two modes: as a native iPhone app on a 1:1 pixel basis, which means the app sits in the centre of the screen and is surrounded by a big fat black border; or it is run full screen in a lower-res ‘pixel-double’ mode in full-screen.
That said, Apple is releasing a new iPhone SDK which will support creative native iPad apps. However, at this stage it’s not known if the iPad’s OS is indeed a third branch of the OS X core – an iPad OS – or if it’s a device-adaptive ‘universal binary’ which will rear its head as iPhone OS 4.0.
Apple has retained but resized the virtual keyboard on the iPad and will also offer an iPad Keyboard Dock with a full-size traditional keyboard.
The iBook store will go live at the launch of the iPad and offer publications using the open ePub format rather than a proprietary Apple format, although obviously the ePub files will have some form of DRM applied.