Apple has earned a reputation as the maker of some of the most elegant and user-friendly computers, music players and smartphones in the business. Yet the Apple iPad may be the most impressive piece of Apple hardware we’ve handled. Updated May 5 2010.

See also: New iPad review. (March 2012)

See also: Apple iPad 2 review

It’s bigger than an iPhone, of course, but much lighter than a laptop. The front is almost entirely glass, save for a thin aluminium frame. The back is a gently curved plate of anodised aluminium.

The iPad is designed to be held, and it couldn’t feel more solid. This is not a delicate piece of technology to be coddled, but a semi-rugged slate for toting wherever you go.

The 9.7in glass touchscreen packs in 1024x768 pixels, resulting in the 4:3 aspect found on older TVs, as opposed to the predominant 16:9 ratio of today. At 132 pixels per inch (ppi), it’s down on the 163ppi of the iPhone. A 19mm bezel may look superfluous, but it’s actually essential for your thumbs when holding the iPad, making a solid grip that doesn’t trigger commands to the sensitive capacitive touchscreen.

This screen, based on superlative in-plane switching (IPS) technology, is bright and vibrantly colourful, with a wide viewing angle. It collects fingerprints but it’s got the same oil-repellant coating as the iPhone 3GS; one quick wipe and they’re gone.

The screen space means you can put lots of fingers (and, indeed, both hands) on the iPad, to type or interact with onscreen objects. People who disparage the iPad as merely a hyper-thyroidal iPhone are failing to see the bigger picture.

For full pricing, and details of how to buy an Apple iPad see our Apple iPad FAQs.

Apple iPad

Apple iPad: Specs and speeds

The iPad is available with either 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of flash storage. In due course we’ll see models of the same capacity with built-in 3G in addition to 802.11n Wi-Fi.
The processor inside the iPad is proudly billed as a ‘1GHz Apple A4 custom-designed system-on-a-chip’, and appears to be based on a single-core ARM Cortex-A8. Graphics may be courtesy of the same PowerVR SGX 535 used in the iPhone 3GS.

Whichever chip is in there, the Apple iPad flies. It was fast at almost everything we threw at it: games played smoothly with gorgeous graphics, and there’s no lag when panning and zooming around large images. Any touch-based device stands or falls on how smoothly things on the screen can react to the movement of your fingers. The iPad breezes that test masterfully.

We tried the SunSpider JavaScript test on iPad’s Safari browser. In September we ran this test on every iPhone OS device made – the fastest (iPhone 3GS) took 15.5 secs, while the original iPhone took 36 secs. The iPad completed it in 10.4 secs.

The battery is a 24.8Wh lithium-polymer pack, over five times the size of the iPhone 3GS’s unit. While Apple boasts a battery life of 10hrs, early reports suggest that real-world figures may be even longer. Charge overnight and you’re set for the day.

In short: the Apple iPad is fast and the battery lasts.

NEXT: typing on the Apple iPad >>

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