Do new Apple Tablet - iPad what they cost and how it works?

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Apple has finally done it. Apple has released its new tablet device, that is. The Mac public was expecting, indeed clamoring -- for Apple to release such a device -- and soon! For Apple to have failed to do so would have been a major letdown (to its customers as well as its stockholders). The momentum was just impossible to resist.

After all, the iPhone is essentially a miniature tablet computer. Apple has shown that it can "do" such a device like no one else. So, despite Steve Jobs past protestations, releasing a new tablet was a no-brainer. All Apple had to do is scale up its brilliant interface to a larger device.

Did I say "all Apple had to do?" The technical challenges in producing this new device, called the iPad, were enormous. Apple had to essentially design a whole new operating system that is not quite the Mac and not quite the iPhone, rewrite its core applications from scratch, and basically rethink the entire way a computer operates.

Apple was not the first to release a new tablet computer, just as it was not the first to release an MP3 player or cell phone, but it may well be the company that succeeds in making the tablet computer truly "catch fire" with the public.

Apple has a tremendous head start with 140,000+ apps for the iPhone, and it wisely designed the iPad to take advantage of them. The iPad can run iPhone apps at their original size, or in "pixel doubled mode" twice the size as on the iPhone, so that they nearly fill the iPad screen. Developers can easily rewrite their iPhone apps specifically for the iPad in such a way as to take advantage of its new features.

How will the iPad affect Internet marketers? Of course, the "i" in its name stands for Internet (and it's also a clever play on the name of the "iPod"). Surfing the web will be a joy, and a larger screen will give users much more room to work with. Apple's developers brag that it's like "holding the entire Internet in your hand," or like reading a physical book or magazine.

Creation of new apps for the iPad by developers could rival the gold rush that sprang up around the iPhone. Apple offers the SDK 3.2 beta for developers with the tools they need to start creating applications for the iPad, and an iPad simulator that lets them build and run applications on the Mac, lay out the user interface, test memory usage and debug.

Web graphic designers and artists will enjoy the included Brushes application on the iPad's larger screen, although some may feel that it is something like fingerpainting -- a stylus that works with the iPad will not be supported, at least not initially.

Apple has completely rewritten its productivity software iWork for the iPad. Keynote contains custom graph styles, custom-designed themes, animations and effects, and brand-new features designed just for the iPad. Pages includes Apple-designed templates and formatting tools. Numbers offers over 250 formulas, flexible tables and sophisticated charts.

Want to catch up on your marketing reading? Apple has worked hard to make reading e-books, magazines and newspapers pleasurable on the iPad. Apple's e-book reading software has an interface that looks like a bookshelf. Flip the bookshelf over with your finger, and you're brought to the online store where you can purchase new books.

The iPad's built-in Safari browser works just like the one on your Mac. And, like the version on your iPhone, you can scroll through pages by flicking your finger across them, or pinch or double tap to zoom in on a photo.

The Mail application offers a landscape view with a split screen showing both the current e-mail and the unread messages in your inbox. Want to view the current e-mail message by itself? Simply turn the iPad to portrait mode and the message zooms to fill the screen. The iPad will work with popular e-mail providers such as mobile me, Yahoo Mail, Gmail, Hotmail and AOL. To compose a message, you just tap and start typing.

This brings us to the onscreen keyboard. Many pundits wondered how text entry would work on Apple's new tablet device. You can use an external keyboard for typing long documents if you wish. However, I think Apple made the right decision in not attempting to build a physical keyboard into the tablet. The goal of the iPad is to bring your data and web surfing up close for an intimate feel. A keypad would simply get between you and the screen.

The on-screen keyboard is much larger, of course, than what is possible on the iPhone. In landscape mode, the keyboard is almost as large as that on a standard laptop. With just a few tweaks to the word recognition and auto-correction features of the iPhone software, typing on this virtual keyboard, I suspect, could be almost as fast as using a real one. Plus, I believe that voice dictation apps could come quickly to the iPad, just as they have to the iPhone.

And, of course, the iPad includes all of the same features as the iPhone, only in a larger form--video, YouTube, the iPod and iTunes, interactive satellite maps, the notepad, a calendar completely redesigned from the ground up for the iPad, Contacts and Spotlight search.

The iPad will be shipped in three different internal storage configurations and with the option of Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + 3G, for a total of six different models. The base model, the 16 GB Wi-Fi only, will start at a reasonable $499, while the top of the line 64 GB Wi-Fi + 3G model will tip the scales at a still affordable $829. Apple has said that, while most new technologies are introduced at a higher price point and slowly work their way down, Apple wanted to do things differently.

When will the iPad be available? Apple expects the Wi-Fi models to ship in late March and the 3G models to ship in April.

The thinness, just 0.5 inches, the light weight, just 1.5 pounds, and the flexibility of this new device are sure to make the iPad popular with Internet marketers and anyone on the go. With its high resolution LED backlight, it's larger display, it's responsive multi-touch screen and its powerful Apple-designed processor, the new iPad will be thin and light enough to take anywhere. And I suspect that many people will choose to do exactly that.

Tim Arends is the webmaster of Internet Mac Marketing. Get a FREE 75-page ebook that covers everything you need to know about running your Internet business using a Mac, iPhone and iPad here:

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