Apple's iPad May Include Built-In Camera, Suggest Reports

Apple's iPad, the company's upcoming tablet PC, may contain a built-in camera, at least according to an Apple product repair company that posted photos of an alleged iPad frame with a space for a camera module. Other sources have posted photos from the device's Jan. 27 launch event showing what could be a camera hole on an iPad held by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Whether these rumors pan out in a succeeding version of the iPad, the tablet seems firmly bent on challenging a variety of rival devices, including the Amazon Kindle in the e-reader space.

Apple's iPad could feature a camera, according to the latest superheated rumors circulating around the Web on Feb. 2.

Many of those rumors found their source in a blog posting from a Kansas-based Apple product repair company, Mission:Repair, which said that recently received spare parts for the iPad contained a space where a camera could potentially be inserted.

"We received our first shipment of iPad parts today," Ryan Arter of Mission:Repair noted in a Feb. 1 posting on the company's official blog. "Upon opening them up and getting our hands on some of these rare items, we immediately noticed what appears to be a 'spot' for a camera within the iPad frame."

A camera from a unibody MacBook apparently fits the space on the alleged iPad frame: "The lens fits in the hole, the LED that indicates that the camera is on fits, and the ambient light sensor hole is also correct. It appears that the plans to have camera in the iPad is a reality."

Separately, Wired posted photos from Apple's Jan. 27 unveiling of the iPad in San Francisco, suggesting that a lighter-colored dot on the device's frame could in fact be a Webcam. Commenters to that article have suggested that the "dot" could be an ambient light sensor.

Official photos of the device on Apple's site, however, reveal no such Webcam, nor do the technical specs indicate a built-in camera module or mechanical button to operate one. From the outset, Apple is planning on offering an "iPad Camera Connection Kit" accessory that allows users to import photos and videos from a digital camera onto the device.

The buzz for Apple's iPad steadily built in the months and weeks that led to its unveiling, and seems to have continued unabated despite many aspects of the device now being known: The iPad has a 9.7-inch LED backlit glossy multitouch display with IPS technology, capable of displaying multimedia with 1,024-by-768 resolution, and connectivity courtesy of either a Wi-Fi connection or combined Wi-Fi and 3G. Powering the device is a 1GHz Apple A4 proprietary processor, combined with either a 16GB, 32GB or 64GB flash drive. Apple has stated that the device will have a 10-hour battery life.

As announced, price points for the iPad will vary based on options. 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.

By introducing an iBooks e-books storefront along with the iPad, Apple is seemingly gearing up for a broad-based assault on the e-reader market, currently dominated by Amazon's Kindle line.

"Apple is taking on Amazon's Kindle directly with the iPad, though iPad has weaknesses as a dedicated e-book reader and its entry level cellular-enabled model is $629, much more than Kindle's $259," IDC analyst Susan Kevorkian wrote in a Jan. 27 research note. "IPS offers a better viewing angle than traditional LCD technologies, but is not any better than other LCDs outdoors, and its backlighting can induce discomfort from eyestrain, something that Kindle has hedged against with its E Ink display technology."

Apple also introduced the iPhone SDK 2.3 beta along with the iPad, and is encouraging developers to craft tablet-centric applications. Roughly 140,000 apps will be available for the iPad through the App Store when the device is released in two months.

Much of the early criticism of the device has focused on its resemblance to an oversized iPhone or iPod Touch. If a succeeding generation of the iPad features a camera, those critics may find more grist for their original arguments.