Apple unveils long-awaited iPad tablet computer

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San Francisco—Apple Inc. Wednesday unveiled its much-anticipated tablet-size computer, the iPad, which CEO Steve Jobs called “a magical and revolutionary product.”

The iPad, similar in appearance if not in size to the company's iPhone, features a 9.7-inch display and weighs 1.5 pounds. It will run all iPhone apps unmodified, with Apple's app store also to feature iPad-specific versions.

The iPad will be priced from $499 to $829, depending on memory and wireless features, and is expected to go on sale in March.

At the unveiling, Jobs demonstrated the iPad's ability to run an assortment of applications, such as e-mail, a Web browser via WiFi, videos, word processing, a spreadsheet, slide shows and Apple's iTunes store. The iPad can display a touch-sensitive QWERTY keyboard and numbers keypad for data entry.

In a direct challenge to Amazon and its Kindle e-reader, Apple also introduced an iPad app called iBooks. Apple is partnering with Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Shuster, Macmillan and Hachet Book Group to offer books similar to its iTunes store offerings of music and video. Books will be priced from $8 to $15.

The New York Times has introduced an iPad app to display a vertical, newspaperlike (nonbrowser) version of the paper, with such features as imbedded videos inside articles.

Two wireless data plans with AT&T also were announced, priced at $15 and $30 a month.

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