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Apple’s new iPad coming soon

Apple’s new iPad hits the market April 3.

CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad in January, announcing they have created a new product for the niche between the iPhone and the laptop. The iPad is a sleek device with an interactive touch screen. Consumers have been looking for an affordable tablet for years. It remains to be seen whether the iPad can perform up to our ever-increasing processing demands, and whether it finds the market Apple has imagined.

The iPad’s 1.5-pound slim design is only a half-inch thick and has a 9.7-inch screen. The touch screen senses various gestures to click, zoom and reposition the display. A half-screen keyboard can be displayed for typing. It utilizes standard wireless N and Bluetooth. An accelerometer reorients the display when the device is flipped or turned. Battery life is estimated at 10 hours. Full specifications can be found at www.apple.com/ipad/specs/.

In addition to email, web browsing and date book utilities, the iPad makes use of the many newly popular applications designed for smart phones. Since the introduction in January, developers have already begun to provide new apps designed specifically for the iPad. Apple provides easy access to music and videos, and has set up a book store to facilitate eBook use at $14 per volume. Some believe that the iPad is destined to be a device for consumers, driving the ongoing purchase of videos, music, books and downloadable apps.

At the San Francisco unveiling, Steve Jobs smugly cited the Wall Street Journal’s comment: “Last time there was this much excitement about a tablet, it had some commandments written on it.”

While Apple Inc. is heralding the iPad as a godsend, many are challenging its worthiness. Concerns focus on its processing abilities and the absence of ports for external devices. Others have said that iPad is “a solution without a problem.” It fills a gap between smart phones and laptops, but do we need a device that is too big to fit in a pocket, that cannot handle things as well as a laptop? Bloggers have called it “a big iPhone without the phone” and a laptop without a keyboard.

During his presentation, Jobs glowed that the iPad experience is “intimate” and the web is altogether new when “you hold it in your hands.” Perhaps this was his attempt to counteract slams that the iPad must be held in one or two hands or propped on bent knees.

Jobs also dismissed the closest competitor to the iPad, the netbook, as a slower, less effective laptop. The fact remains that the iPad is less powerful than many netbooks (1 GHz vs. 1.6 GHz). Pricing of the iPad is quite comparable to netbooks.

The appeal of iPad is its sleek, lightweight form. The rush to create applications that has enriched the smart-phone industry will surely bless the iPad as well. If it can live up to Apple’s claims of being the coolest way to surf the net, and truly meet consumers’ needs, iPad may create a new computer standard.

Patty Harshbarger, owner of Computer Renaissance in Bradenton, can be reached at (941) 753-8277.

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