Reporter's Notebook: Apple CEO Steve Jobs says that the new iPad will be an entirely new mobile device category that will fit between smartphones and laptops while being able to perform many basic computing tasks better than either of the earlier devices.
Steve Jobs showed off the Apple iPad to a packed house of mostly adoring fans
at Yerba Buena Center on Jan. 27, he made it clear that Apple's ambition was
nothing less than to create an entirely new mobile device category.
Before revealing the price and mobile carrier options, Jobs placed the iPad
concept squarely between smartphones like the iPhone and laptops, but with the
ability to be better at a host of everyday computer chores. "Most people
think that's a netbook, but netbooks aren't better at anything. They're just
cheap laptops," he said.
Jobs said that Apple's design goals were driven by seven key functions: Web
browsing, e-mail, sharing photos (the iPad, like the Apple iTouch, lacks a
built-in camera), watching videos, playing music and games, and reading e-books.
The iPad demonstration, with the audience watching as Jobs and others put the tablet
through its paces, proved that the $499 basic model will hit the mark when it
is released worldwide in the next 60 days.
For anyone who's used an iPhone, the startup, navigation and application
usage will be intuitive. With only the "home" button on the bottom
edge of the screen, there aren't too many avenues to get started in the wrong
Most new users will likely master the colorful and accurate multitouch user
interface in a matter of minutes. The Wi-Fi version of the iPad, which will
ship first, uses 802.11a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 wireless networking. The
cellular connection story wasn't nearly as exciting.
In the Jan. 27 announcement, Apple revealed that AT&T remains the only
cellular carrier to offer a data plan. This continues the Apple/AT&T
pairing for the iPhone. The announcement didn't include any mention of
tethering an iPad to an iPhone.
Instead, two AT&T data plans were detailed: $14.99 for 250MB per month
or $29.99 for unlimited data usage per month. The upside for consumers was that
both plans can be activated directly from the iPad with no need for a
I held an iPad in the demonstration area after the announcement. The iPad is
0.5-inch thick and has a 9.7-inch LED-backlit widescreen multitouch IPS
(in-plane switching) display. It weighs 1.5 pounds, and has a good feel in the
hand while the display is both responsive and resists smudging.
Although the aluminum feels sturdy, it's unlikely many iPad users will walk
out of the Apple Store without also picking up the custom case that protects
the device while also serving as a display stand that should make movie
watching more enjoyable.
Six models of the iPad will be shipped inside the next 90 days. The iPad
models will come with a 16GB, 32GB or 64GB flash drive and as either Wi-Fi only
or Wi-Fi plus 3G cellular. The cellular models will be an additional $130,
according to remarks made by Jobs at the Jan. 27 event.