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Apple Introduces Its iPad

Priced starting at $499, it’s pitched as a new category of device

Details emerged about Apple’s newest pet, the iPad.

The device promises to let consumers browse the Web, manage e-mail, look at pix and watch videos, listen to music, play games and read e-books. It is “thinner and lighter than any laptop or netbook” and works by touch. Company officials almost hyperventilated in their press announcement, using words like “magical” and “our most advanced technology” as well as the more usual “revolutionary” that is common in such announcements.

The word “radio” did not appear in the company’s press release and is not listed as a feature, though the application-oriented device works with most of the gazillion apps that are available on the App Store, presumably including those produced by radio organizations for consuming their content.

The basic version comes with Wi-Fi; it will be available in March and carry a U.S. price tag of $499 for the 16 GB model, $599 for 32 GB and $699 for 64 GB model. International pricing wasn’t announced yet.

“Wi-Fi + 3G” models will be available in April for a suggested retail price of $629 for the 16 GB model, $729 for 32 GB and $829 for 64 GB. The company said the 3G versions will support speeds up to 7.2 Mbps on HSDPA networks.

A new iBookstore will provide books for the iPad, which is being seen among other things as a challenge to the Amazon Kindle book reader.

Apple also introduced a “productivity suite” with which the iPad user can create documents; presentations with animations and transitions; and spreadsheets. Those apps will be sold separately for $9.99 each.

Read about iPad here.

The New York Times explores what the device is, and isn’t, (no camera, no Flash) here.