Apple iPad debuts featuring 3G and WiFi connectivity from AT&T

We can all exhale now. Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the company's highly anticipated new tablet device, called the iPad, at a media Apple iPadevent in San Francisco.

The device, which looks like a larger version of the iPod touch, will come with both WiFi and 3G wireless data from AT&T. Apple and AT&T continue to be attached at the hip, but the service won't require a contract like the iPhone. This ultra-thin tablet, which doesn't enable traditional wireless voice services, will allow users to surf the web, check email, play games and watch videos, among other things.

Jobs said two 3G data plans from AT&T will be available for the iPad: $14.99 per month for 250 MB and an unlimited data plan for $29.99 per month. The services will be prepaid, allowing users to cancel at any time, and will include access to AT&T's WiFi network. Users can activate the wireless service directly on the device.

A WiFi-only version of the iPad will be available in two months, while the WiFi/3G version will be available in three months. A physical keyboard will be available separately.

The WiFi-only devices will be sold for $499 for a 16 GB model, $599 for 32 GB and $699 for 64 GB. The 3G models will run at $629 for the 16 GB model, $729 for the 32 GB and $829 for 64 GB version. Jobs said the company would detail international 3G carrier deals by June or July. The device is fully unlocked and supports GSM micro-SIM cards.

The iPad has a 9.7-inch capacitive, fingerprint-resistant touchscreen display, is 0.5 inches thick, weighs 1.5 lbs. and is powered by a 1 GHz processor built by Apple. The device has built-in speakers and a microphone, but no camera, and can get up 10 hours of battery life when surfing the Web on WiFi.

The question is now: Can AT&T handle the additional data load? Its struggle with the data onslaught from iPhone users has been well documented. During a conference call discussing the company's quarterly results, Apple Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said Apple was confident the operator will make significant progress toward improving service after reviewing AT&T's plans. 

For more:
- see these photos
- read this release
- take a look at this Bloomberg article
- check out this Engadget live blog
- see this WSJ live blog

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