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i pad



What is it, exactly?
If you're coming to this review already versed on the nitty gritty of what the iPad is and its roots in the iPhone and iPod Touch, feel free to skip ahead. Otherwise, here's the scoop:
The iPad is a touch-screen tablet computer, roughly the size of a magazine, with three models that connect to the Internet strictly over Wi-Fi (16GB for $499, 32GB for $599, 64GB for $699) and three that use a combination of Wi-Fi and AT&T's 3G wireless (16GB for $629, 32GB for $729, and 64GB for $829--pay-as-you go for the data subscription).
The iPad runs the same software found on Apple's popular iPhone and iPod Touch. Apple calls this software the iPhone OS, and it's generally regarded as one of the most successful operating systems designed for use with touch-screen devices. Unlike conventional computer OS software, designed around the mouse and the keyboard, the iPhone OS responds only to touch input and is generally capable of running only one application at a time.
If you've ever used an iPhone or iPod Touch, the iPad will feel immediately familiar. Out of the box, you get many of the iPhone's capabilities, including Apple-designed applications (apps) for Web browsing, e-mail, maps, photos, music, video, YouTube, and more. More apps can be installed using the built-in App Store software or by connecting the iPad to iTunes via your computer using the included cable. If you already own apps purchased for an iPhone or iPod Touch, you can transfer these apps to the iPad, as well.

Compared with the iPhone (shown right), the iPad offers a substantially larger screen for browsing the Web.
Design
Apple rarely skimps on design and the iPad is no exception. The screen is made of the same oleophobic-coated glass as the iPhone 3GS', making it relatively easy to wipe away the fingerprints and smudges it inevitably collects. Behind the glass is an LED-backlit, 9.7-inch capacitive touch screen that uses IPS (in-plane switching) technology for above-average viewing angles.
Below the screen sits a Home button that looks and behaves exactly like the one on the iPhone and iPod Touch, bouncing you out of any open app and placing you back in the main menu. Matte aluminum wraps around the backs and sides of the iPad, tapering a bit around the edges. If you've ever held one of Apple's unibody MacBooks, you know exactly the kind of feel and finish of the iPad's aluminum. Unlike the polished chrome of the iPod or glossy plastic of the iPhone, the back of the iPad seems less likely to show wear. Of course--as with any Apple product--there are already hundreds of cases for the iPad, should you feel the need to give it extra protection.
The iPad measures 7.47 inches wide by 9.56 inches tall by 0.5 inch thick, and weighs 1.5 pounds (or 1.6 pounds for the 3G model). Held in your hands, the dimensions and heft have a natural, magazine-like feel. Like the iPhone and iPod Touch, the iPad sports a finger-friendly OS with an onscreen QWERTY keyboard, and an accelerometer that can detect whether the device is in portrait or landscape mode. The buttons, switches, and ports around the edges of the iPad also mimic those of the iPhone. A 30-pin dock connector sits on the bottom, along with a small integrated speaker. On the right edge you have a volume rocker and a switch that works to mute any intrusive alert sounds, such as the chime of an incoming e-mail or a Game Center friend request.
The iPad's refined feel and high-quality materials won't surprise Apple devotees, but in the larger landscape of tablets, Netbook computers, and e-readers, the design feels distinctly upscale--especially given its price. Next to the Asus Eee PC, Amazon Kindle, or Fusion Garage JooJoo, the iPad looks like it was made on a different planet (where plastic doesn't exist). We don't make the point to be snobby, but looks matter considering that all these devices are marketed as living-room accessories.
Size also matters. As one of the first tablet computers to go mainstream, you'll need to assess the iPad's size on a case-by-case basis. For the advertised purposes of Web browsing, reading books, and checking your e-mail, we found the magazine-size screen perfectly adequate. After years of watching videos on devices like the iPod Touch, or even dedicated video players like the Archos 5, video playback on the iPad's 9.7-inch screen feels downright luxurious.
For all its charms, however, the iPad is not as portable as we'd like. Part of the problem is psychological. Logically, you know the iPad's dimensions are no less portable than a book. But when a book costs between $500 and $800 and is made of glass, you treat it differently. Without being tucked away in a messenger bag or protective case, walking outside with an iPad in your hand feels like slapping the laws of gravity in the face.
We'd also be lying if we didn't say we wish the iPad could be a little thinner and lighter. At 1.5 pounds and half an inch thick, it makes most Netbooks look bloated, but he iPad is slightly heavier and thicker than most dedicated e-book readers, including the relatively large Kindle DX. If your dream is to relax in a hammock with an e-book in one hand and a tropical drink in the other, plan to avoid the iPad's glass screen hurtling toward your face when you doze off.

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