14:20 28 January 2010
The release was surrounded by mystery and rumour alike, as tech lovers got swept up in the hype of what surprises Apple's new 'tablet' device could hold.
However, the wait and speculation is over and we're here to bring you low down on the new iPad's features, benefits and more.
The all new iPad looks just like an oversized iPhone, but is there more to it?
At its launch, Apple chief executive, Steve Jobs, described the new invention as a "third category" between smartphones and laptops.
Sporting an impressive 9.7 inch (25cm) high resolution Multi-Touch screen display, the iPad has been designed to let the user interact with the applications and content.
Measuring only 0.5 inches (1.27 cm) thick, the tablet device weighs in at just 1.5 pounds (0.7 kg) that's less than a pineapple which its maker claims is thinner and lighter than any existing laptop or netbook on the market.
The iPad includes all the extras that an iPhone does, but everything is bigger and better.
As with Apple's other gadgets, users can watch movies, but this time on a clearer and larger screen for improved viewing pleasure.
And the same principal applies for browsing online, with the identical flick and pinch and grab screen technology many tech lovers have become accustomed to with Apple's previous releases.
The iPad comes ready with 12 new apps designed especially for the device, and will run almost all of the 140,000+ apps in the App Store as well as any users have already downloaded for their iPhone or iPod Touch.
Photo lovers will not only be able to store all their favourite shots as usual, but, taking it one step further than simply a screen saver, the (almost) 10 inch screen can be used as a digital photoframe. It can be used in this way in both landscape and portrait, adjusting automatically as the user rotates it.
And while there's nothing new about the idea of presenting all your pictures as a slideshow or a digital photoframe, rather than yet another device draining power or needing to be switched on, an iPad could do this while charging or in a docking station making it a more natural way to show off your favourite snaps.
For those who love their music, the built in iPod will perhaps come as no surprise. Indeed it would have been foolish to exclude the very technology that saw Apple take off into the stratosphere. But the "powerful" built-in speaker is likely to be welcome, alternatively users can opt for wired or Bluetooth headphones.
The large display, which is equally intuitive, if not more so, than the existing screens on the iPod Touch and iPhone will hold appeal for avid gamers. Apple has said they expect a "gold rush" for developers to create new apps specifically designed for the tablet. And this could well be the case; Apple recently revealed that more than three billion apps have been downloaded from its store.
However, industry experts have offered criticism for the device which some profess they "neither want nor need".
Firstly and perhaps most importantly, while the iPad does boast a crystal clear touch screen and everything is or a larger more user-friendly scale, it doesn't offer anything new.
In fact, the only really new feature is the advent of the iBookstore, which turns your iPad into an e-book reader. However UK users (and in fact anyone not in America) will have to wait for that one as Apple has no confirmed plans at present to roll out this app outside the US.
Some have deemed the tablet a "giant iPhone without the phone", as well as criticising the lack of a camera (meaning no video chat or Skypeing) and inherent problems with multi-tasking (they iPhone and iPod Touch both struggle to cope with using more than one app at once). Also there's still no Java or Flash, which, though forgivable with the iPod Touch and iPhone, means users can't experience most of what (arguably) makes the web enjoyable.
One critic said it best when they re-titled the iPad as less "revolutionary" as Apple CEO Steve Jobs claimed and more "evolutionary", taking all the parts we know and love and expanding them into something new. But perhaps, that is the very appeal; why fix something if it isn't broke? Just improve it.
Whether Apple has created a device to take the tablet computers to the next level remains to be seen. After all it isn't the first tablet on the market, with the likes of Dell and HP having already shown off their new creations.
But one thing is certain; Apple know how to cause a stir among the techie community and, with its existing brand power and marketing muscle, if anyone can Apple can.
The iPad will be available with three capacities 16GB, 32GB, 64GB with the option to purchase each with Wi-fi only or Wi-fi plus the ability to connect via a mobile 3G signal.
The cheapest tablet will hit shelves in late May priced at £429, with 16GB Wi-fi. At the other end of the scale will be the highest spec 64GB (Wi-fi + 3G) priced £699. Order yours here.
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