After weeks of speculation, rumor and innuendo, Steve Jobs introduced the newest product in the Apple line this afternoon: the iPad. The new tablet-like hand held portable device was designed to bridge the gap between a laptop and smartphone. “That’s a tall order — better than a laptop at browsing the web? Enjoying and sharing photos, videos, enjoying music, playing games, reading e-books,” said Steve Jobs at the unveiling. The anorexically thin notepad has a large touch screen that is manipulated with your fingers. Engadget and gdgt live are liveblogging the gadget's debut. This thing better be a hit, because Jobs stayed up all night building it!

Update: Some facts about the iPad: It is 0.5-inches thin, weighs just 1.5 pounds, thinner and lighter than any netbook. It includes the "usual suspects," including accelerometer, compass, speaker, mic, dock connector, and it has a ten hour battery life. It comes with 16, 32 or 64 GB of flash storage. “It’s got the latest in wireless: 802.11n, WiFi, and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR,” said Jobs.

Most regular third-party apple apps should be compatible with the iPad, including games. There is a specialized New York Times app created for the iPad which better captures the "feel" of reading a newspaper. Martin Nisenholtz of the Times, who introduced the app, said, "We’re incredibly psyched to pioneer the next generation of digital journalism.”

There is also a new iBooks feature, which includes an iBooks store where you can browse books and purchase them directly to your iPad.

The Times is also live blogging the event, and former Carpetbagger David Carr added some thoughtful commentary: "One of the weird things about the presentation is how it is really all about the software. The gadget itself is transparent, a window into software. There is really only a single mechanical button on the device, the “on” button. The rest is all fingers interacting directly with software."

The cost will be $499 for 16GB (base) model. 32GB for $599, 64GB for $799. 3G models cost an extra $130, translating to $629, 729, and 829 with 3G. The regular iPads will start shipping in 60 days, and 3G models will start shipping in 90 days.

The apple site is now online: http://www.apple.com/ipad/

At the end of the presentation, Jobs came back to the issue of whether or not there is an actual market for this product, whether people will be lining up around the block in six months to buy it or not:

Let’s go back to the beginning. Do we have what it takes to establish a 3rd category of products? An awesome product between the laptop and the smartphone. The bar is pretty high. We think we’ve got the goods. And because we’ve shipped so many iPhones and iPod touches, there are already over 75 million people who know how to use the iPad.

Users have downloaded over 12 billion products. We are at scale and we are ready for the iPad. To sum it up: it’s our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device, at an unbelievable price. We think this is going to be a really great combination.”

The reason we’ve been able to create products like this is because we’ve tried to be at the intersection of technology and liberal arts. We make things that are easy to use, fun to use — they really fit the users.

So we’ve got a hands-on area, we’d like you to get your hands on an iPad. When you feel all this power and this much fun and the internet in your hands, you’ll never want to go back.


Finally, reader jles sent this video link, which is certainly iSomething: