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

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Apple was thinking differently, Vronko acknowledged. "They said, 'We're going to LCD and forgo the battery life."

Unlike the reflective display used by the Kindle -- which Amazon says is good for a week of reading between charges, whatever that means -- the iPad's LCD screen will use as much power when displaying a page from Stephen King's Under the Dome as when handling your e-mail or browsing EPSN.com.

That means you should be able to read for about 10 hours before having to plug in the iPad again.

What operating system will the iPad run? A modified version of the iPhone OS labeled as Version 3.2.

By using the iPhone OS, Apple ensures that current iPhone/iPod Touch software runs on the iPad, giving the tablet an instant library of over 140,000 applications. It also means that Apple can add to, rather than have to rework, the multi-touch interface that millions already know how to navigate.

Apple released a beta of the iPhone OS 3.2 software developers kit yesterday, giving most developers their first look at the tools and APIs that can be used on the larger-screen iPad.

What's it going to cost me to use an iPad over 3G? Once you've forked over the $130 extra for the 3G-capable model, you'll have to spring for a data plan, too.

In the U.S., AT&T will offer two plans in April when the 3G iPad launches: a $15-per-month plan that gives you a 250MB allowance, or an unlimited plan that runs $30 per month. Over the course of a year, then, your iPad 3G access will run between $180 and $360, excluding taxes and fees.

Unlike with the iPhone, there's no contract or commitment requirement; AT&T's iPad plans are prepaid, and you can ditch the deal at any time.

The iPad is also "unlocked," which means you can insert a SIM card from another carrier into the tablet. Presumably, that's how most users outside the U.S. will access 3G when the iPad goes on sale in their countries later this year.

Computerworld's Seth Weintraub tries out the new iPad at Apple's launch event Wednesday.

One analyst expects that most buyers will opt for the less expensive Wi-Fi-only iPad, not just to save the $130 but because Wi-Fi will be available where they plan to use the tablet. "Some of the 3G models will sell, some people will pay the $130 just to have 3G if they want it later, but most usage models of the tablet are with Wi-Fi ... at home, in the coffee shop, in the classroom," said Gartner analyst Van Baker.

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