FAQ: What we now know about the iPad

It's out, it has a name, and we have lots of details about Apple's tablet

After the blood-in-the-water, Tiger-shark-like frenzy leading up to the unveiling of Apple's new tablet this week, it's understandable that you might feel, well, a tad underwhelmed. Even the Apple rumor mill can't peg every nut and bolt, so there's always something that was touted by the gossip but didn't show up in the real deal.

No, the iPad -- a name that has struck some as offensive -- doesn't make popcorn. It won't recharge by setting it in a sunny spot. It won't even run Flash, for cryin' out loud.

What will it do? What's inside? And most important, what's it going to cost?

Surprisingly, there were some surprises yesterday when Apple CEO Steve Jobs -- still looking thin but no longer gaunt -- showed off the iPad, beginning with its price, which was lower than most had predicted.

To get going, we've answered some of the first round of questions about what Jobs called "magical" and "revolutionary," but which a lot of pundits called much more mundane.

How much will it cost? $499 at the bottom, $829 at the top, with four more configurations in between.

Here's the deal: The iPad comes in two models -- one with Wi-Fi connectivity only, the second with both Wi-Fi and 3G. For each model, there are three configurations based on the amount of flash RAM storage.

The Wi-Fi-only models costs $499, $599 and $699 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB configurations, respectively. Add $130 to each of those prices for the Wi-Fi-plus-3G model and you get $629, $729 and $829.

Some experts have said the $130 surcharge for 3G is "ridiculous," noting that a 3G chip set adds less than $10 to the materials cost of the iPad. Other hardware in the model, such as GPS, would add a few more dollars.

When can I get one? Apple is saying "late March" for the WiFi-only model, "late April" for the Wi-Fi/3G iPad. And no, you can't order one yet.

The company isn't taking preorders at the moment. Instead, Apple is only accepting names and e-mail addresses, which it will use to notify customers when the online store is ready to take credit card numbers.

I've heard some say the iPad is fast. What's that about? The tablet is powered by what CEO Steve Jobs called an "Apple A4" processor, which he also acknowledged was Apple-designed. Jobs didn't come out and say it, but everyone is assuming that the chip was created by P.A. Semi, the Santa Clara, Calif., boutique microprocessor design company Apple acquired in 2008.

Apple's tablet, the iPad
Apple's tablet, the iPad, is a device that falls between a smartphone and a laptop, said CEO Steve Jobs.

The Apple A4, said Aaron Vronko, CEO of Rapid Repair, a firm that services Apple's mobile hardware, is actually a "system-on-a-chip" that almost certainly includes the a single-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor running at 1 GHz. According to Vronko, that means the iPad is on average 85%-to-90% faster than the iPhone 3GS at executing code and in some instances may be twice as fast.

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