iPad Specs: What Apple Announced (and What We Still Don't Know)

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Unless you've been living under a particularly heavy rock, you're aware that Apple unveiled its iPad today. We'll have lots of coverage of the device, but here's a quick look at the announced specs. Many of our hardware questions have been answered, but many questions still remain.

Display: 9.7 inch IPS

It's particularly interesting that Apple is going with IPS (in-plane switching) technology. These are usually found in higher-end desktop monitors because they provide better color reproduction and wider viewing angles. Nearly all notebooks use TN (twisted nematic) panels, which are generally considered inferior. Resolution is 1024x768 - not quite as wide as 720p video (1280 pixels) but a little taller (720 pixels).

Size and Weight: 9.56 by 7.47 by 0.5 inches, and 1.5 to 1.6 pounds

It looks like the devices has a somewhat convex back, much like the iPhone 3G, making it half an inch thick in the center but "feel" slimmer on the edges where you hold it. Either way, this looks like a reasonable thickness and weight for something you're meant to hold in your hands all the time. The 3G option adds a tenth of a pound (about 6.6% additional weight).

Processor: 1GHz Apple A4 Chip

This is a fairly big deal, not because the chip runs at 1GHz, but because it's labeled the "Apple A4 Chip." Apple bought the semiconductor company PA Semi in 2008, this must be what they're doing with it. We know precious little about the chip besides that. Given that iPhone apps run unmodified, we can assume it's based on the ARM architecture. There's a world of difference in performance between the ARM11 cores found in the original iPhone and the ARM Cortex A9 cores just announced at CES, after all. How much RAM does this chip have? What's the 3D architecture like (does it use a licensed PowerVR core, like the iPhones)?

Storage: 16, 32, or 64GB flash

This is sort of a no-brainer. 128GB might be nice in a device this size, but it's probably cost-prohibitive.

Battery life: 10 hours battery life, over 1 month standby

Apple didn't provide details on how this number was derived, but did mention that you could watch video on the entire flight from San Francisco to Tokyo. The specs page lists "Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music." The battery is a 25 Watt-hour lithium polymer battery.

Connectivity: 802.11n Wi-Fi, 3G, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR

It's great to see 802.11n support, and Bluetooth 2.1 with EDR (enhanced data rate) will be useful for some accessories. Apple said there will be models with 3G through AT&T. Data plans in the US will cost $14.99 for 250MB and $29.99 for unlimited data. There is no contract commitment. The plan will come with free access to AT&T hotspots, just as AT&T does with other laptop 3G data customers. If you don't like AT&T, good news: all iPad models are unlocked, and use the new GSM micro SIMs, so you could theoretically go with another carrier.

Other Features: Accelerometer, compass, speaker, mic, 30-pin connector

It sounds as though it will use the same connector as the iPhone and iPod Touch, and includes similar internal "extras" as the iPhone 3GS with the accelerometer and compass. So what's missing? The camera! There appears to be no front-facing nor rear-facing camera. There are volume buttons and a headphone jack along the right hand side (when held vertically). There is a physical switch on top (for power? Wi-Fi?).

Apple will release physical keyboard dock accessory that looks like a standard Apple keyboard. No pricing info on that.

Price: "Starts at $499"

That's a fairly low price, but that only gets you the 16GB model with no 3G. Adding 3G to any model costs $130 more, and each tier of storage is $100 more. So that's $599 for the 32GB model without 3G, and $829 for the whole enchilada - 64GB and 3G.

Note: This article was update at 11:45am with additional specs.

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