The Apple iPad has arrived to fill the gap between laptop and phone. You've perused the official photos and you've watched our early review video. Now we've rounded up everything you need to know about the iPad in this handy Q&A. Any questions? Fire away!
What are the options?
The iPad comes with either 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of memory, and with or without 3G, giving a total of six possible options.
Using the iPad
How to use the blessed thing
Can I read ebooks?
Yes. Apple has introduced its own ebook store and app, called iBook. Pages can be turned by moving your finger across the screen, like a real book, complete with sweetly realistic page-turning animation. But there's one catch: staring at a computer screen like the iPad's LED-backlit LCD screen will hurt your eyes after a while. That's why ebook readers such as the Kindle use E Ink screens, which do not strain your eyes. The screen is a type of LCD called IPS (in-plane switching) which aligns the liquid crystals horizontally to the panel, apparently giving a better viewing angle and richer colour.
How do I type?
On the onscreen keyboard, or on a physical keyboard sold separately. The onscreen keypad changes depending on which app you're using, and the keyboard accessory includes iPad-specific controls like a button to take you to the home page, or call up the onscreen keys.
How do I hold it?
Steve Jobs typed on the iPad with both hands, laying it on his lap. He surfed by holding it in one hand and swiping his other hand around the touchscreen. The back is flat, like the first-generation silver iPhone, so we can see it being propped up against piles of books.
How do I surf?
The iPad boasts a capacitive touchscreen, which supports multi-touch. This means you'll be able to swipe your fingers around to move, tap a finger to click, and even use both hands on the screen at the same time.
How do I play games?
By tapping, swiping or stroking the screen, and tilting the iPad to use the built-in accelerometer.
Can I view email attachments?
Yes. The iPad supports images (.jpg, .tiff, .gif) and PDFs. You can view Microsoft files created in Word (.doc and .docx), PowerPoint presentations (.ppt and .pptx) and Excel spreadsheets (.xls and .xlsx). Rich-text format and .vcf contact information is also viewable.
Can I use the apps I've already bought on my iPhone?
Yes. All apps will work on the iPad, at the same size as the iPhone or doubled in size. Some apps are already being optimised for the iPad, with higher-quality graphics and clever use of the extra screen real estate.
Can I run two apps at the same time?
No. This is the most glaring omission: even the shonkiest netbook lets you have music playing or IM open at the same time as you surf or work. The iPad looks like a full-sized computer, but is stuck with a phone's operating system.
Connecting to the Web and the world
Does it have Wi-Fi?
Yes -- all the models have Wi-Fi.
Is it 3G?
The 3G version will arrive when deals have been struck with phone network providers. 3G will probably add about a hundred quid to the price of the Wi-Fi-only version -- it's an extra $130 in the US.
Can I use it to make phone calls or send texts?
Yes and no. The 3G connection only allows you to connect to the Internet. Apple, however, now lets you make VoIP calls on the iPhone over both Wi-Fi and 3G with apps such as iCall or Truphone. You can use these apps to turn your iPod touch into a phone, so hopefully this will be true of the iPad.
Can I put my SIM card in the iPad?
No. When Apple first mentioned the iPad's 3G SIM slot, we wondered if that meant you'd be able to put your own SIM in there, effectively unlocking the iPad. But the iPad uses a different type of SIM card: the 3FF, or Micro SIM. It measures 12x15mm, about half the size of a regular SIM. This means you won't be able to import a 3G iPad and use it with a UK data SIM until our networks start providing Micro SIMs.
Can I tether the iPad to my iPhone?
No. As we understand it, iPhone owners already paying extra for tethering will not be able to avoid the 3G charge on the iPad.
Will the iPad know where I am?
Yes. The 3G version has GPS and a digital compass. The non-3G version will be location-aware thanks to its Wi-Fi connection.
What makes the iPad tick
What's the processor speed?
Apple called it a custom-made, A4 processor clocked at 1GHz. Engadget, however, has unearthed reports that it's an ARM-built Cortex-A9 MPCore CPU.
How big is the screen?
The screen measures 9.7 inches, or 24.6cm, from corner to corner. The resolution is 1,024x768 pixels, which is 4:3, at 132 dots per inch.
Can I watch movies?
The iPad plays H.264 video encoded at up to 720p at 30 frames per second, MPEG-4 video up to 640x480 pixels, and .mov file formats. It will play YouTube videos, but doesn't support Flash, DivX or .avi.
Is it high definition?
Technically, no. Because it isn't 16:9, black bars appear around your film, reducing the vertical number of pixels to below the necessary 720. You can zoom in though, making your film 4:3 and higher resolution.
Can I play music?
Yes. iTunes is built-in, and will run at the same time as other apps, so you can listen while you surf or work. There's a 3.5mm headphone jack. The iPad plays AAC, MP3, MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3 and 4), Apple Lossless, AIFF and WAV.
The hard stuff
Can I plug in my camera or other accessories?
Yes, if you buy the camera-connection kit. This includes a USB input and SD card reader that attach to the end of the cable that comes with the iPad.
What's the battery life?
Apple reckons 10 hours of Web surfing, or a month on standby. Judging by the iPhone, we'll believe that when we see it.
Can I change the battery?
No. Don't be daft, this is Apple we're talking about.
Are there any accessories?
Yes. Click here for more on the physical keyboard, dock and camera connector kit.
It's coming this way -- maybe sooner than you think...
When can I get the iPad?
Late March in the UK for the Wi-Fi-only model. The 3G version hits the US in April, and Steve Jobs announced from the stage that international versions would follow nearer June when network deals are struck. Update: The 3G version will be available in the UK in April.
How much will it cost?
Yet to be confirmed, but we predict it'll start at around £500. In the US, the iPad costs $500 (£310) for a 16GB model, $600 (£370) for the 32GB version and $700 (£430) for 64GB. Add $130 (£80) for 3G, so the most expensive model is $830 (£514). We're surprised by how affordable the US prices are, but it's unlikely these will translate across the pond: our 64GB iPod touch is £300, so the iPad will be a good site higher than that. Our educated guess is that Apple will simply swap the dollar sign for a pound sign.
The bottom line
Is the Apple iPad all it's cracked up to be?
Read our wish list with the Apple iPad: What we didn't get.
So how is the iPad different to the iPhone or iPod touch?
It's bigger. That's about it -- the iPad doesn't support Flash or multitasking or any of the other glaring omissions on the smaller devices. But the user interface is pretty slick, with the larger screen affording cool tricks such as popover drop-down menus and less cramped layouts for your calendar, email and other apps.
Is it worth it?
The jury's out: some glaring omissions hamstring an undoubtedly slick OS. Keep it CNET for our full review very soon.