Friday, January 29, 2010

Apple iPad Will Deliver New Ways To Watch Movies

The iPod forever changed the way we listen to music: how we just dance to Lady Gaga, our state of mind about Jay-Z, the manner in which Taylor Swift belongs to us. On Wednesday (January 27), Apple introduced another sleek portable device it's hoping will further transform how the world consumes its multimedia: the iPad.

As unveiled by Apple top dog Steve Jobs at the company's press conference in San Francisco, the iPad is a tablet computer that's essentially an oversize, souped-up version of the iPod Touch or iPhone. It also comes with a whole host of news features that offer consumers fresh ways to consume video, from HD movies to full-screen YouTube clips to web footage on The New York Times Web site. The intention is that it'll now be just as easy to go where no man has gone before with "Star Trek" as it has been to rock out with Gaga's "Poker Face."

(Check out MTV's live blog of the entire event over at Multiplayer.)

With a 9.7-inch touch-screen display and a battery life of 10 hours, the iPad will offer the most robust viewing experience yet available on an Apple mobile device. Ranging from 16GB to 64GB in storage size and $499 to $829 in price, you can now carry far more video than previously possible and play that video for far longer than ever before. However, viewed in landscape mode, widescreen movies on the iPad only take up about half of the screen's display. Reformatted movies, conversely, take up the entire screen — and the tablet is basically all screen, as there's just one button and a thin strip of black framing the device.

Apple has been quietly building its HD movie catalog for a while and the iPad seems positioned to take advantage of that increased selection — iTunes now boasts thousands of downloadable movies and TV shows. When it comes to HD, you'll also be able to watch YouTube clips in top-notch quality. The new YouTube app allows for easy visual organization of clips that automatically play in full screen when in landscape mode.

Helping you navigate all the multimedia on the iPad will be a more fully fleshed-out version of the iTunes digital movie player than is available on the iPhone, yet benefits from the now familiar touch-screen technology present on Apple's mobile devices. The iPad syncs with a personal computer, linking up music, movies, TV shows and more.

So imagine being able to sit down on the subway or an airplane or a park bench with your 16GB iPad, scroll through the four HD films that the 1.5-pound, 0.5-inch-thick tablet can hold, then watch whatever you want for hour after hour. Pretty cool. But it gets even cooler when you start to imagine all the features the iPad will soon contain.

Just like the iPhone, the iPad is open to third-party applications, meaning a whole host of creative apps that utilize the tablet's video capabilities will begin to come on the market. WiFi-enabled models will be available in 60 days, while ones with both WiFi and 3G cellular connectivity will pop up in 90 days.

As Apple exec Jonathan Ives put it during the press conference, the iPad "defines our vision, our sense of what's next."

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