Apple’s Steve Jobs finally introduced that iPad the whole world has been talking about for the past two centuries. What can you do with it? Watch movies. Read ebooks and news. Send email. Play games. All from a shiny multitouch display. Right, the same stuff you can do on an iPhone (except make calls, but you can’t really do that on an iPhone either). But it’s bigger! Faster! And will only cost $499. Quick, where can I buy one?
Since it doesn’t have built-in 3G connectivity, the iPad is actually more like a giant iPod touch than an iPhone. That means relying on WiFi to get on the internets, though Apple says that 3G-enabled iPads are coming in 90 days for $629. Unlimited access will be $29.99 a month — no contract required.
What you get for your $499 is a large (9.7-in screen), versatile, portable media player, which can handle video, music, ebooks (er, iBooks), games and the web. It’s not a “tablet computer” in the traditional sense; Apple does take a stab at productivity with a version of the iWork office suite and an external keyboard, but the focus is definitely on entertainment.
The iPad will run most App Store apps, and sports a user interface reminiscent of the iPhone, but reworked to take advantage of the larger screen. And according to Jobs, its (sealed, inaccessible) battery is good for 10 hours.
Yes, the iPad does look kinda cool. But is it $499 worth of cool? That price is half what some pundits expected, so the iPad may find a solid market among early adopters and Apple fans. But the rest of us may want to wait for the inevitable 2.0 version — and the price cut that will hit this version once that lands in stores.