Pin-pricking months of hyperinflated speculation, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has finally unveiled the iPad, the newest tablet computer. The product is supposed to succeed where smart phones and laptops have failed--offering a light, comfortable-to-hold viewing screen with a variety of functions. "What this device does is extraordinary," said Jobs. Giving an initial overview, he boasted about the tablet's online user experience:

You can browse the web with it. It is the best browsing experience you've ever had. It's phenomenal to see a whole web page right in front of you that you can manipulate with your fingers. Way better than a laptop, way better than a smart phone.... It's a dream to type on.
Stay tuned for liveblogging updates gleaned from around the web:

Update 6 Now for the biggest disappointment. Many tech bloggers had thought/hoped Apple would drop AT&T today. Instead it will be the sole 3G carrier of the iPad. Always quick to bellyache, Jason Kincaid at TechCrunch mourns the announcement:
AT&T... has been absolutely notorious for already being unable to cope with the 3G data usage of the iPhone. This sure isn’t going to help things.
But Kincaid also looks at the brightside:
It’s worth pointing out that most of what you’ll be doing with the iPad will consist of consuming content and surfing the web. Unlike the iPhone, where a dropped connection can result in cutting off an important phone call, a lost data connection on the iPad will probably just mean your website stops loading halfway.
Update 5: What's it like to use? The staff at Gizmodo get their hands on one and write a glowing appraisal. For them, this product's greatest attribute is its speed:
It's substantial but surprisingly light. Easy to grip. Beautiful. Rigid. Starkly designed. The glass is a little rubbery but it could be my sweaty hands. And it's fasssstttt.

Apple didn't really sell this point, but it's the single biggest benefit of the iPad: speed. It feels at least a generation faster than the iPhone 3GS. Lags and waits are gone, and the OS and apps respond just as quickly as you'd hope. Rotating between portrait and landscape modes, especially, is where this new horsepower manifests in the OS.
Update 4: Jobs announces the pricing scheme:
We had a very aggressive price goal because we want to put this in the hands of a lot of people. … I am thrilled to announce to you that the iPad pricing is not $999 but $499.
After a warm round of applause he explains that the iPad will have six different price levels. The cheapest iPad can't connect to a 3G wireless network and has only 16 GB. It only gets better (and more costly) from there:

Wi-Fi only:
16GB $500
32GB $600
64GB $700

Wi-Fi + 3G:
16GB $630
32GB $740
64GB $830


This is nothing to sneeze at, writes The Business Insider's Jay Yarrow: That's a much lower price than we expected. It's the biggest surprise of the event. Steve Jobs said he wants to get the iPad in as many hands as possible.



Update 3: Time's media columnist James Poniewozik asks the pressing question on Twitter: "why do I want to have this PLUS an iPhone PLUS a MacBook?" Steve Jobs's answer:
It's so much more intimate than a laptop and so much more capable than a smartphone with this gorgeous, large display.
Update 2: As the event unfurls, the influential tech blog TechCrunch is live streaming its coverage. Though Apple wouldn't let them film inside, vloggers John Biggs and Meghan Asha give play by play analysis of what's happening:
crunchgear on livestream.com. Broadcast Live Free


Update 1: Jobs demonstrates how the New York Times looks on the iPad. Needless to say, the Times' tech writer Brad Stone is nothing but giddy:
He's now displaying the New York Times site, NYTimes.com. If he shows the Bits blog, the space-time continuum may rip. Oh, jeez, he just did. I just saw my own name on the screen. Audience is chuckling as they see our tech headlines.

At the outset, the iPad's name generated the most commentary across the web. While most tech observers predicted it would be the iPad, not everbody's happy about it:
  • PatrickRuffini: "The one thing that has an approval rating lower than Congress: the name, iPad
  • stevesilberman: "Surely no women were involved in naming it the iPad"
  • GregMitch: "Ha: CNBC female anchor objects to iPad name, says "it sounds too much like feminine products."
  • marcambinder: I guess it's called the iPad. Good for Trekkers, but "The Tablet" is more elegant.