Eager for the Apple iPad? You'll finally be able to get your hands on the tablet in the U.S. starting Saturday, April 3.
Apple announced Friday that the Wi-Fi version of the iPad will launch in the United States on that date, followed by the Wi-Fi + 3G edition later in the month. Additionally, both versions will hit Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, and the U.K. in late April.
Starting March 12, consumers can preorder both the Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + 3G models from Apple's online store or reserve a Wi-Fi version to pick up on April 3 at any Apple retail store.
When it unveiled the iPad in January, Apple had said it was shooting to make the tablet available in March.
"iPad is something completely new," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said Friday in a statement. "We're excited for customers to get their hands on this magical and revolutionary product and connect with their apps and content in a more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before."
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The iPad's Wi-Fi only version will sell in the U.S. for $499 for 16GB of memory, $599 for 32GB, and $699 for 64GB. The Wi-Fi + 3G edition will cost $629 for 16GB, $729 for 32GB, and $829 for 64GB.
Prices in other countries will be announced in April, Apple said. The iPad will be available through Apple's online store, Apple retail outlets, and certain Apple authorized resellers.
Revealing the iPad to the world on January 27, Jobs touted the device as Web browser, music and video player, e-book reader, game player, and more. Measuring half an inch thick and weighing 1.5 pounds, the iPad is thinner and lighter than a notebook or Netbook and can potentially deliver up to 10 hours of battery life.
Apple's new tablet has generated lively debate even before it hits the market. No device could have matched the hype and buzz generated before Jobs' demo. So this may have been inevitable, but a significant number of reviews and opinions of the iPad have been negative.
Many have been underwhelmed by the tablet, calling it just a large iPod Touch. Some have faulted the iPad for its lack of certain features: no Webcam, no HDMI port, no multitasking, no Flash support, no ability to install software. Others have asked, "Why buy the iPad when I can buy a less expensive, more capable Netbook?"
But the original iPhone lacked certain key features and took time to evolve into the device it is today. The question for Apple is whether buyers will wait for iPad 2.0 or flock to the first-generation model when it launches in four weeks.
Updated at 7:10 a.m. PST with more details.