In terms of basic hardware, the iPad isn't overly impressive, although the 1,024 x 768, 9.7-inch diagonal screen is absolutely gorgeous. It's about the same size as the average netbook screen and puts the 3.5-inch iPhone and iPod touch screen way in the shade. It's more than a little strange when, after a little time playing with the iPad, you go back to your iPhone – it feels restricted.
Storage is provided in three capacities on the iPad 3G – 16, 32 and 64GB – as it is on the standard iPad.
Every iPad also boasts the Apple A4 processor, a system-on-chip ARM-based processor that has been developed in-house by Apple and boasts in-built graphics capabilities as well as providing audio and power management. Like the iPhone chip, it's still manufactured by Samsung.
In the Wi-Fi only model, the antenna is hidden behind the Apple logo, but the iPad 3G has an extra plastic oblong at the top of the back of the device. This is pretty ugly, and it's an unusually inelegant solution from Apple. Still, it was probably the only way to keep a generally aluminium body on the device.
As we mentioned, there's also an accelerometer, GPS chip, ambient light sensor, on/off switch, standard dock connector and volume controls as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack. Indeed, the one thing the iPad has over the iPhone is the addition of a screen-rotation lock switch – this is a great addition, which we'd also like to see on the iPhone itself. The 3G certainly helps the GPS with exact positioning, too, as it does on an iPhone.
Surprisingly though, there's no built-in camera. We'd have expected one, and we reckon it's a dead-cert for the next generation of the iPad and we're also expecting a front-facing camera on the new iPhone, too.
Sound works well, with a lot more beef than the iPhone's internal speaker. There's certainly a good effect from it – during games the sound really reverberates throughout the device, creating a really solid effect. It's hardly force feedback, but it's pretty darn good.
Like all Apple kit these days, the Li-Ion battery isn't user-replaceable, but because of the integrated A4 chip, the power consumption is fairly frugal. For the standard iPad, Apple quotes 10 hours of surfing on Wi-Fi. This decreases reasonably if you're on 3G, but certainly no more than you'd see with an iPhone. And, of course, if you're playing graphically intensive games (more on that later), this decreases substantially.
Size-wise, the iPad 3G is the same as the Wi-Fi version, 242.8mm by 189.7 mm, but weight is 730g instead of 680g. You will notice this in your hand – it's certainly not something you'll want to be holding in one hand for any length of time, for example.
The 13.4 mm thickness does make the device feel extremely slim, but it remains fairly weighty. There's also been a lot of criticism about the iPad's 12mm black bezel, but it doesn't look quite so bad in real life as it does in photos – don't judge that one until you've seen it in store. You also need something to hold onto, so the bezel does actually serve a purpose.
As mentioned above, the screen on the iPad is absolutely beautiful. It's LED by design, meaning it's extremely bright and the colours exceptionally vivid. Watching videos on the iPad is a rewarding experience, with even YouTube clips looking crisp.
What's more, due to the use of in-plane switching tech, it has a super-wide viewing angle of 178 degrees, which means when a group of people gather around it (hardly an unlikely event given the hype surrounding this product) everyone will be able to see just fine.