Apple's iPad Includes Custom Processor, Tiered Pricing, 140,000 Apps at Launch

Apple's iPad, the company's long-rumored tablet PC, finally made its rollout during an event in San Francisco on Jan. 27. While the device's impact and success will likely be debated for days and weeks, a breakdown of its hardware and software suggests that the iPad could provide strong functionality in a number of areas, including e-readers and games. Apple is also encouraging developers to start crafting programs for the iPad, which will be released sometime in the next two months, through the release of the iPhone SDK 3.2 beta.

Apple's tablet PC formally made the transition from buzzed-about vaporware to an actual device, named the iPad, during a high-profile event in San Francisco on Jan. 27. The same pundits who spent months discussing possible features of the device are now busy debating the scale of the iPad's impact on the market and whether it will succeed in the long-term, but in the meantime it may be instructive to run down the hardware and software aspects of the device.

Apple also came out of the gate strongly encouraging developers to download the new iPhone SDK 3.2 beta and start creating programs for the iPad, which will actually be released sometime within the next two months. That SDK includes an iPad Programming Guide, iPad Human Interface Guidelines, and iPad Sample Code. By doing so, Apple seems to be betting that developers will help expand the iPad's functionality to the point where it becomes a truly robust competitor in arenas as diverse as gaming, music, video, e-readers and productivity.

The device presented by Apple CEO Steve Jobs includes the following features:

  • Display/Form-Factor: The iPad includes a 9.7-inch LED backlit glossy multitouch display with IPS technology, capable of delivering 1,024-by-768 resolution. External buttons are On/Off, Sleep/Wake, Mute, Volume Up/Down and Home. Overall, the device measures 9.56 inches tall by 7.47 inches wide by 0.5 inches thick, and weighs either 1.5 pounds for the Wi-Fi model or 1.6 pounds for the Wi-Fi and 3G model.

  • Wireless Options: The Wi-Fi model will feature a 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi connection, along with Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology, while a Wi-Fi and 3G model will include UMTS/HSDPA, GSM/EDGE, 802.11 ab/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology.
  • Processor: A 1GHz Apple A4 proprietary processor.
  • Capacity/Pricing: Apple will offer units with 16GB, 32GB or 64GB flash drives. The 16GB version will cost $499 with Wi-Fi, and $629 with Wi-Fi and 3G. The 32GB version will cost $599 with Wi-Fi, and $729 with Wi-Fi and 3G. The 64GB version will cost $699 with Wi-Fi, and $829 with Wi-Fi and 3G.
  • Battery Power: Apple claims 10 hours of charge on the built-in 25 Whr rechargeable lithium-polymer battery.
  • Mac System Requirements: Mac computer with USB 2.0 port, Mac OS X v10.5.8 or later, iTunes 9.0 or later, iTunes Store account, and Internet access.
  • Windows System Requirements: PC with USB 2.0 support; Windows 7, Vista or XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 3 or later. iTunes 9.0 or later, iTunes Store account, and Internet access.

  • Language Support: English, French, German, Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, and Russian.
  • Location: Wi-Fi, digital compass, Assisted GPS (Wi-Fi and 3G model), Cellular (Wi-Fi and 3G model).
  • Apps Available: Apple claims some 140,000 Apps from the App Store will be capable of running on the iPad at launch. Applications such as iWork have also been supposedly redesigned in order to accommodate the device's form-factor and functionality.
  • Mail Attachment Support: Viewable document types: .jpg, .tiff, .gif, .doc, .docx, .htm, .html, .key, .numbers, .pages, .pdf, .ppt, .pptx, .txt, .rtf, .vcf, .xls, .xlsx.

The iPad will also come with a variety of accessories at launch, including:

  • iPad Keyboard Dock: A combination full-size keyboard/charger, allowing the iPad to be synced to a computer, recharged via a USB Power Adapter, and linked with accessories such as the Camera Connection Kit.

  • iPad Case: This carrying case doubles as a sort of stand, allowing the screen to be propped in different positions for movie- and media-viewing.
  • iPad Dock: Used for recharging the device, as well as syncing to a computer. Both the iPad Dock and the iPad Keyboard Dock contain an audio jack for connecting to a stereo or speakers.

  • iPad Camera Connection Kit: This accessory lets users import photos and videos onto the iPad using a USB cable. An SD Card Reader also allows media to be directly ported onto the iPad from the camera's SD card.

  • iPad USB Power Adapter: A 10W USB Power Adapter, with a six-foot power cable.