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Apple introduces new US$499 iPad tablet computer

Apple introduces new US$499 iPad tablet computer

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the company's much-anticipated iPad tablet computer Wednesday, calling it a new third category of mobile device that is neither smart phone nor laptop, but something in between.
The iPad will start at US$499, a price tag far below the US$1,000 that some analysts were expecting. But Apple must still persuade recession-weary consumers who already have other devices to open their wallets yet again. Apple plans to begin selling the iPad in two months.
Jobs said the device would be useful for reading books, playing games or watching video, describing it as "so much more intimate than a laptop and so much more capable than a smart phone."
The 1.27cm (half-inch)-thick iPad is larger than the company's popular iPhone but similar in design. It weighs 0.68kg (1.5 pounds) and has a touch screen that is 24.6cm (9.7 inches) diagonally. It comes with 16, 32 or 64 gigabytes of flash memory storage, and has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity built in. Jobs said the device has a battery that lasts 10 hours and can sit for a month on standby without needing a charge.
Raven Zachary, a contributing analyst with a mobile research agency called The 451 Group, considered the iPad a laptop replacement, especially because Apple is also selling a dock with a built-in keyboard.
But Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey said he does not believe the iPad offered enough additional features for consumers to justify buying yet another gadget, or to call it a new category of device.
In an e-mail, he criticized its lack of social features, such as ways to share photos and home video and recommend books.
Sitting on stage in a cozy leather chair, Jobs demonstrated how the iPad is used for surfing the Web with Apple's Safari browser. The CEO typed an e-mail using an on-screen keyboard and flipped through photo albums by flicking his finger across the screen.
He also showed off a new electronic book store and a book-reading interface that emulates the look of a paper book. That puts the iPad in competition with Amazon.com Inc.'s Kindle and e-book store.
Tim Bajarin of Creative Strategies Inc. called the iPad a great multipurpose mobile device - and the first tablet with a chance of success with consumers.