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Like a great comet heralded in a cloud of rumor, the Apple iPad has finally made its
appearance.

Apple has been preparing for what could potentially be a prime mover in the world of consumer electronics. The device is a hybrid between the popular iPhone and the successful Macbook laptop.

Weighing in at 1.5 pounds, it is smaller than a magazine and can be used anywhere.

The experience of the larger multi-touch screen allows the user to see and do more simultaneously. Maps can be read at the size of a standard paper one, e-mails can be viewed at the same time as your inbox and there is no need to zoom in or out because one size accommodates all.

Any iPhone or iPod Touch user will have little trouble adjusting to the iPad. After fooling around with the iPad for a few minutes, consumers became comfortable managing it. Consumer reports also say that Apple has built a computer that is so simple to maneuver that anyone can pick it up and understand it immediately. It seems that the iPad is creating a new class of computers on
its own.

However, the iPad does lack the staple parts of a laptop in that there are no DVD drives or USB jacks. Another downfall is the Wi-Fi plan that adds additional expenses to purchasing the product. For example, a 16GB iPad costs $499, but with a 3G data plan, the price increases to $629. Purchasing apps from the app store will also induce charges.

The accessories for the iPad extend its capabilities. There is a keyboard dock that allows you to use a full size keyboard and a camera connector that provides a way for you to import videos and photos off your camera.

The applications have enhanced the features of the device significantly. Developers were able to snag an iPad the day of its release to test out their latest applications. The app store has more than 150,000 applications designed for nearly every possible source of entertainment and necessity, including life-like race-car driving in the Real Racing HD app, the periodic table of the elements in The Elements app and the iBooks app, which is gaining popularity against its Kindle competitor. There is even an app that allows you to follow the constellations in the sky at night for stargazing users.

It is hard to believe an object so thin and light can house such competence. Landscape views and built-in speakers make this gadget add to its charm. The iPad can be held in any direction and still deliver a brilliant picture with great contrast and resolution.

Furthermore, it is the ideal gadget for a media junkie who spends hours each day browsing through books, email, music, videos, photos and the Web.

Critics will say that Apple could have done better, but the iPad has become the pioneer in innovative technology that many competitors might attempt to emulate. The only advice any prospective buyer should take with them is bringing enough dough to cover the cost.