The iPad's here, now what?

Answers to opening day questions about Apple's new tablet

The iPad is nearly here. It goes on sale Saturday and, UPS willing, arrives at the doors of the hundreds of thousands of customers who preordered the tablet starting last month.

What's next?

Well, you can forget the run-up, the hype, questions about what consumer pigeonhole it fits into, or even whether it will Change the World As We Know It. That's all history.

Now what do you do? And do with it?

Those are just the first of the questions you'll have about Apple's media tablet, so like a good story, that's where we'll start.

Can I still get one Saturday? Yes, but you may have to stand in line.

All of Apple's U.S. stores will have a limited supply of iPads for sale to walk-in customers Saturday starting at 9 a.m. local time, and Best Buy stores that stock Apple hardware will have an even more limited number (reportedly, just 15 for each store, five each of the three storage configurations).

IPads that have been reserved by others but have not been picked up by 3 p.m. will be returned to sale inventory at that time by each Apple store.

So if you did reserve an iPad for in-store pickup, make sure you're there by 3 p.m.

What's in the box? Not a heck of a lot. There's the iPad, of course, and Apple's typically terse "documentation," which is nothing more than a small booklet. Also included is a tiny power adapter and a six-foot cord, and a cable to connect the iPad to a Mac's or PC's USB port.

How much does it cost to get on the Internet? Do I have to use AT&T? Slow down, buddy. Unless you're Marty McFly, the iPad you have only connects over Wi-Fi.

So, if you're at home, your Web surfing over the wireless network adds nothing to your monthly nut. Out and about? Stay within range of a hot spot -- and here, payment mileage may vary -- to stay on the Internet.

Flash, no Flash, I'm not a freakin' camera. What Web sites work with the iPad? Good question. Apple's feud with Adobe over Flash is famous. (CEO Steve Jobs reportedly called Adobe "lazy" for not optimizing Flash to suit Apple's requirements or taste.)

Sites that stick with Flash will sport swaths of blank real estate on the iPad, but some sites have revamped to support HTML 5 instead. Apple posted a short list of what it dubbed "iPad ready" sites Thursday that includes CNN, The New York Times, Flickr and Major League Baseball.

There are, of course, tons more that will look just fine on the iPad. Others, just as obviously, may stink.

(For the Web site dev/design details, check out the tech note Preparing Your Web Content for iPad.)

Will iPhone apps work on the iPad? Yes, but they'll appear in the center of the display and in actual iPhone size -- in other words, tiny. At your option, you can double the size of an iPhone app, which makes it not only larger but likely a bit "jaggy," what with the way the mode simply enlarges pixels.

Has Apple stocked the App Store with iPad-specific software? Naturally.

In fact, iPad apps started to show up before the tablet hit consumers' hands. By Thursday's end, more than 2,000 iPad-specific apps, ranging in price from nothing to $9.99 (and some higher), had appeared in the App Store within iTunes.

From our admittedly unscientific survey, iPad paid-app prices will be much higher than those for the iPhone. The most frequently listed paid app prices seemed to be $4.99 and $6.99.

Here's hoping that app developers don't try to stick customers with a 5X price jump.

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