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iPad tablet, anyone?

Posted: 29 Jan 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Apple iPad? touchscreen? mobile computer?

Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs unveiled Jan. 27 the company's new tablet-style mobile computer, dubbed the iPad.

The iPhone maker described iPad as a 10-inch touchscreen computer weighing about 1.5 pounds. The device is "thinner and lighter than any laptop or netbook" at one-half inch deep, Apple said. The iPad is expected to be available in late March, priced at $499 to $699.

The iPad has a 9.7-inch LCD screen and is powered by an Apple-designed SoC known as A4, Apple said. The company said the chip provides "exceptional processor and graphics performance" along with long battery life of up to 10 hours.

Several analysts have speculated in recent weeks that the tablet would use an internally designed processor created by the PA Semi team that Apple acquired in 2008.

Ashok Kumar, a research analyst at Northeast Securities Inc., speculated recently that the product would feature an ARM-based applications processor created by the PA Semi team. Kumar speculated it would also chips from Qualcomm Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. C.J. Muse, an analyst at Barclays Capital, said Apple's media pad makes use of the following chip vendors: Broadcom, Infineon, Hynix, Linear, Marvell, Novatek, NXP, Samsung, among others.

Kumar recently estimated that Apple could ship up to 1 million units of the device by March and 400,000-500,000 units per month thereafter. Since the iPad will not be available until late March, Kumar's estimates obviously need to be pushed back.

The first versions of the iPad will feature Wi-Fi, while another version scheduled to come out later will offer both Wi-Fi and 3G, according to Apple.

Apple said iPad includes 12 new applications designed especially for the iPad. The device will run nearly all of the 140,000 apps available through the company's App Store, Apple said. The company also released a software development kit for iPad to enable developers to create applications for the product.

Apple also announced a new iBooks application for iPad and said it had a opened an e-book store that will feature books from major and independent publishers.

The 16-GB iPad is priced at $499, while the 32- and 64Gbyte versions are priced at $599 and $699, respectively, Apple said. Models that include both Wi-Fi and 3G will be available in April in the U.S. and selected other countries, priced from $629 to $829, Apple said.

Prior to the launch, speculation had also been running rampant about what Apple would call its tablet computer. Many believed it would be known as iSlate because Apple has reportedly owns the domain name. Bloomberg reported that Fujitsu Ltd has been seeking a trademark on the iPad name since 2003 for a handheld computing device and may take legal action against Apple. In filings the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple has said it may oppose Fujitsu's right to the name, according to the report.

According to a report from The Los Angeles Times, Jobs positioned the iPad as a superior alternative to netbooks, criticizing netbooks as being slow and lacking high-quality displays.

The iPad enclosure is made of recyclable aluminum and comes standard with energy-efficient LED-backlit displays that are mercury-free and made with arsenic-free glass, Apple said.

The Free Software Foundation used the media blitz around the event here to protest the company's use of proprietary digital rights management technology.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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