The much anticipated iPad goes on sale in Australia tomorrow. Described as an oversized iPhone, initial stock is set to be limited, but for those who do get their hands on one the experience could be interesting.

Love it or hate it, the iPad has already created a new portable computer category, which companies like Toshiba claim will impact the netbook market. Companies like Dell, Acer and HP are all set to launch competitors.

For me, the iPad was a great experience and is well worth the investment, despite the fact that it misses some key capabilities such as a USB port or an SD storage slot. The model that I was able to bench test came from the USA, and while the wireless worked, it had limited range – a problem that Apple is currently working on.

I wear glasses and I found reading on the iPad was extremely easy, whether it was a website or book.

The 3G Wi-Fi version can be used as a navigation device in the car, or to replace thousands of dollars worth of proprietary home automation system in a home. In reality, the iPad is cheap. An RCI or Philips Pronto remote will set you back around $2,000 a device, and a home automation touch screen an additional $2,000. The iPad will be sold for around $750, and will replace the need for a separate remote or touch screen display.

After downloading a Foxtel control application, which is free from the Apple Application store, I was able to take full control of my Foxtel programming direct from the iPad.   

During the past few weeks and since being launched in the USA, the device has been pilloried, publicly eviscerated and subjected to death by blender, baseball bat and even microwave. Despite this, people are set to queue at Apple stores on Friday to buy an Apple iPad.

I believe that this device will hurt Sony and Nintendo as gamers move to an iPad as opposed to using a Sony PSP or Nintendo DSi. Currently developers are racing to build iPad games ahead of its launch next month.

For those racing out to buy a 3G Wi-Fi service from Telstra, Optus or Vodafone, be warned – this device is addictive and constant downloading of content, games, movies or books could be expensive. My advice is to go and buy a data plan and when you do make sure you get one that gives you great coverage and above all can deliver you good speed performance. You will need it as the iPad is significantly faster than an iPhone and most PCs. 

In Australia Apple is currently selling the device online and if you pre-order your iPad today, the delivery advice on Apple’s online store says that the device will be delivered in “June”.

On the downside, I suspect that the iPad models that are being launched this week will be replaced by Christmas with new, upgraded models. The model I tested weighs 680grams, which after a while becomes heavy.

It has no external connection device such as a USB port, which prevents the attachment of any form of storage device. It doesn’t have an SD card slot either.

Despite all this, the iPad is well worth buying, as the prices are relatively cheap when compared to what early notebooks cost.
Apple has announced the following prices for Wi-Fi-only models in Australia:
  • 16GB – $629
  • 32GB – $759
  • 64GB – $879
For the Wi-Fi plus 3G models, Apple has set these prices:
  • 6GB- $799
  • 32GB – $928
  • 64GB – $1049
The Wi-Fi plus 3G models will require users to purchase data plans from mobile providers if they intend to use their iPads outside the range of Wi-Fi services.

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