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What is the iPad™?

By Dorothy Distefano
Updated May 16, 2024
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The iPad™ is an innovative device from Apple®, Inc. This much anticipated laptop meets the needs of users who desire an eBook reader as well as a mini-computer. A multi-touch screen, flexible orientation, and a variety of applications make the device unlike any other.

The 9.7 in (24.64 cm) screen has 1024-by-768 pixel resolution, with 132 pixels per inch (ppi). The resulting graphics appear clear and sharp. The surface has a fingerprint-resistant coating, which is a useful feature for a touchscreen device. The unit contains an accelerometer, used in many applications, or apps, to sense the orientation and motion of the device to facilitate gameplay or app features.

Built-in speakers and a microphone are installed for use with various apps. The 3.5 mm headphone jack is available for private listening, however, the iPad™ does not come with earbuds or headphones. A USB power adaptor and dock connector are included for data transfer and charging purposes.

Capacities of 16 gigabytes (GB), 32 GB, and 64 GB are available, with WiFi or WiFi plus 3G, or third generation wireless network. WiFi requires a wireless Internet connection. The WiFi plus 3G handles higher data transfer speeds typically used in applications to stream video or surf the web. This requires the purchase of an additional data plan.

The iPad™ comes equipped with several applications that iPhone® and iPod touch® users may find familiar. These include iTunes®, Maps, Notes, Calendar, Contacts, Photos, Videos, and Mail, which are all standard on the device. Safari is the web browser, and tapping the iPod icon accesses the music library. New to the iPad™, among other features, are the Spotlight Search function, used to search for specific content housed on the device, and Accessibility which offers a screen reader that is able to playback closed-captioned content.

Apps designed for work are available, but are not included on the device. The iWork® apps include Keynote, a presentation app; Pages, a document creation app with advanced layout tools; and Numbers, a spreadsheet app for making tables, charts, and more — which is compatible with Excel®. Each application is available for a fee from the iTunes® App Store.

The iBooks app is free to download for reading digital content. Books are available from the iBookstore for download to the iPad™. Book covers are displayed on a virtual bookshelf, and may be accessed by a single tap on the screen. Several periodicals are offering iPad™-compatible versions as well.

Apps for the iPhone® are compatible with the iPad™. New apps, specifically designed for the new device, make use of its specific features and capabilities. The software development kit (SDK) is available on the Apple® website, and includes guides and samples for those wishing to develop apps.

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Discussion Comments
By Markerrag — On Jan 24, 2015

@Soulfox -- I would argue we are heading toward a time when you don't have to have a ton of local storage. Yes, I am talking about cloud storage that makes it possible to get away with having little local storage. That stuff is reliable, it is stored on redundant drives and so it is backed up and you get quite a bit of storage on some services, too.

See? Stuff the world is adapting to iPads and other tablets. It could be they will be as powerful as the desktops we use now.

By Soulfox — On Jan 24, 2015

@Logicfest -- That still doesn't deal with the small screen issue or the fact that tablets have very meager storage capability compared to a desktop computer. My little old laptop computer has a terabyte hard drive, and the most an iPad has to offer is 128 gigabytes.

If you are doing some serious graphics work or something, you would run out of storage in a hurry on a tablet. That being the case, I would argue that personal computer still has a very relevant place in a lot of homes and offices.

By Logicfest — On Jan 23, 2015

@Terrificli -- Those "iPad is the future" folks might have jumped the gun by declaring the era of the desktop computer has come to an end, but they may be proven right one day.

Remember what a drag people said it would be to do word processing or email on a tablet? Keyboards were designed that make those chores easy. Could mice or similar items be far behind? Perhaps not.

By Terrificli — On Jan 22, 2015

These are very handy things, but the the thing that drives me nuts about them is that there are more than a few so called experts who predict the iPad (and other tablets) will be the death of convention, desktop computers.

I have a real problem with such talk, as should anyone who has tried to do certain tasks on an iPad. There are just some things (such as graphic design) that require the use of a mouse to be effective and some chores require a large screen. Those iPads and similar tablets just don't have the hardware to suit some tasks and that means personal computers are still very relevant.

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