You know the screaming teenagers that would faint back in the ’60s when the Beatles made an appearance? There were a lot of tech geeks in San Francisco doing nearly the same thing today when Steve Jobs and company unveiled the iPad, the company’s new tablet computer.
These events can sometimes have an anti-climactic feel after months of hype and rumors. It’s safe to say that this one delivered on most of the hype. However, not even mighty Apple could satiate every leak and whisper suggested over the past few months.
Nevertheless, it does appear that Apple has pulled another game-changer out its magic hat. Which fronts it will change remains to be seen. The iPad, as it was named, is an impressive take on a full-featured mid-point between a laptop and the smartphone. It’s also a full-color eReader, a multi-media screen and an iPod. It’s also a blogger’s dream, if a wee bit expensive, depending on which model the consumer chooses.
The new device measures in at .5 inches thin, 1.5 pounds and boasts a 9.7-inch IPS display with full capacitive multitouch. The iPad is also fast, due in part to Apple’s own silicon, a 1GHz Apple A4 chip. Additionally, the iPad features Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR, Wi-Fi, built-in microphone and speaker, and it can run all currently available iPhone apps.
The iPad will come in WiFi-only and 3G flavors. But that 3G will cost you. Both versions are available in 16, 32 and 64 gigabyte models. The Wi-Fi-only version costs $499, $599 and $799 for the 16, 32 and 64 gigabyte models, respectively. That represents the base model. The 3G models cost an extra $130 and runs $629, $729 and $829 for that version of the 16, 32 and 64 gigabyte models.
The carrier partnership was probably the biggest surprise of the day. AT&T will apparently be offering a prepaid tiered data plan to iPad users. Using new GSM microSIMs for connectivty, AT&T will offer 3G users options of two plans, either 250MB of data a month for $14.99, or an unlimited plan for $29.99 a month. The 3G version, when combined with either of the AT&T plans, will include free access to all AT&T Wi-Fi hot spots.
It appears the hype generated by the Web is simply unmatchable for any company. Rumors leading up to the unveiling today included a possible announcement that Apple would be ending its exclusivity agreement with AT&T and releasing an entirely new CDMA version of the iPhone for Verizon Wireless. There was nothing about a new iPhone, nor any mention of a complete overhaul of the iPhone OS. Multi-tasking and Flash didn’t happen, and neither was there a camera of any kind included on the iPad.
So, did Apple deliver on the iPad? That’s a story that can only be told in quarterly earnings and sales figures. In the end, it will be the consumer who casts the deciding vote on whether Apple has simply created a new device or set a standard for a new category of devices.