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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

Apple iPad

The iPad is a line of tablet computers designed by Apple Inc., that uses Apple’s iOS operating system. The user interface of this device is a touch screen with a virtual keyboard and built in Wi-Fi, with some models having cellular connectivity. The iPad can take pictures, videos, play music, browse the internet, along with having GPS, gaming, and social networking capabilities. Over a million apps are available from Apple and third party developers in the App Store. Five generations of the iPad are now available, including an iPad Mini, having a 7.9 inch screen instead of the standard 9.7 inch.

History of the iPad began in 1983 in a speech from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who in short said the strategy of the company was to bring a powerful computer in a book form that could be easily carried around. Ten years later the first tablet computer named the Newton MessagePad 100 was introduced along with prototypes the PowerBook and the PenLite, but only the MessagePad was put on the market. Several more were introduced over the next few years with the final one, the MessagePad 2100, being discontinued in 1998.

Rumors of the first iPad had been talked about for several years under such names as iTablet and iSlate, but the actual name derived from a device used in the show Star Trek called PADD. Steve Jobs announced the iPad on January 27, 2010 at a press conference at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, California and later said that the iPad had been in development before the iPhone which was released in 2007.

On April 3, 2010, the Wi-Fi version went on sale and the Wi-Fi + 3G version was released on April 30. Service for the 3G was from AT&T with two contract free plans, one unlimited data plan and a 250 MB per month plan. On June 7, 2010 the ultimate plan was replaced by a 2GB plan at a lower cost, but current customers could keep the unlimited plan. Plans could be activated right from the iPad itself.

Originally the iPad was only available through the Apple online store and at Apple retail locations. Now the iPad can be purchased at almost any retail store including Amazon and Walmart. Now, it can be purchased world wide in almost every country.

On the first day of sales 300,000 were sold and by May 3, 2010 sales reached a million; within 80 days 3 million iPads had been purchased, and a total of 15 million were sold prior to the release of the second generation iPad.

On March 2, 2011 at a press conference Jobs unveiled the iPad 2, it was 33 percent thinner, and 15 percent lighter, with a better processor, a dual core Apple A5, which delivered twice the speed as the original iPad. This iPad had front and back cameras that supported the FaceTime videophone application and had a ten hour battery life.

On March 7, 2012 the third generation iPad was unveiled having a dual core A5X processor with quad-core graphics and a Retina Display having a resolution of 2048×1536 pixels, which is 50 percent more then a 1920×1080 HD TV screen. The two models were a Wi-Fi only and a Wi-Fi + Cellular.

On October 23, 2012 Apple announced the fourth generation iPad along with the iPad mini. The new iPad had an A6X processor, HD FaceTime camera, and an all-digital lighting connector. The iPad mini featured a smaller screen size measuring 7.9 inches, with a 1,024 x 768 resolution screen, a dual core A5 processor, available with 16 GB, 32GB, or 64GB capacities. The two versions of the iPad mini were Wi-Fi only and a Wi-Fi 4G

The original iPad did not have a camera, while the iPad 2 has a front VGA camera and a rear 720p with a 5x zoom for still images only. Both cameras can shoot photo and video in a 4:3 full screen aspect ratio, while the iPad 4 has a 16:9 ratio.

There are two internal speakers in the current iPad on the bottom right of the unit, unlike the original that had a sealed channel with three audio ports, and the iPad 2 has the speakers behind a grill. A TRRS connector audio out jack is located on the top left providing stereo sound for headphones. It also has a built in microphone for voice recording. With the built in Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR interface this device allows wireless headphones and keyboards to be used.

The battery is an internal rechargeable lithium-ion polymer which provides up to ten hours of video operation, 140 hours of audio playback, or it can be on standby for up to a month. If the battery loses its ability to be recharged, Apple will replace the iPad with a refurbished one but the user will lose the data stored within the unit, or the battery can be replaced by a qualified computer technician.

Data is stored on an internal flash memory with capacities of 16, 32, and 64 GB, but has no option for storage expansion.

There are several accessories available for the iPad including a camera connection kit, VGA adaptor to work with external monitors, and HDMI adaptor to stream to a device supporting 1080p. The iPad can be charged with a standalone 10 W wall charger which is included with the device. Smart covers are available in five different colors made out of polyurethane and leather. These covers have three folds to allow for them to convert into a stand.

The iPad can run its own software, downloaded software from the App Store, or software that has been produced by developers who have paid for a license for registered devices. The iPad can run almost every iPhone application.

The home screen shows a list of up to sixteen available applications at one time which can be accessed at any time by the hardware button. Users can delete any third party software, but default programs cannot be removed. The touch screen enables users to drag content up, down, or sideways with the finger and zoom in or out by spreading two fingers apart or closing them together: known as pinching.

The layout of the music library can be sorted by songs, artists, albums, videos, play lists, genres, composers, pod cast, audio books, and compilations, all arranged in alphabetical order, except in the playlists, which are in the order of the download. The user can directly purchase songs from the iTunes Store and download into the iPad.

The iPad has no Ethernet or USB port, it uses the Wi-Fi network to access the internet with a built-in A-GPS in the 3G model so it can access cellphone towers, and it has a black strip to aid in reception.

The iPad was selected by Time magazine as one of the 50 best inventions of 2010, and was chosen by Popular Science as the top gadget, and winner of the “Best of what’s new 2010.”

Image Credit: Apple

Apple iPad