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Apple Launches iPad Tablet Computer

American consumer technology giant Apple has unveiled its latest product-a tablet computer promised to combine the best elements of the company's line of phones and laptops.

It's bigger than an iPhone, but smaller than a Mac. Meet the iPad. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has introduced his company's new tablet computer as the best of both worlds. "It's so much more intimate than a laptop, and it's so much more capable than a smartphone," he said.

Calling it a magical and revolutionary product, Jobs says the hybrid machine offers a better way to check e-mail, browse the web and play games than its predecessors.

He says in addition to storing and organizing photos and accessing television shows and movies, the iPad's touch-screen is designed to display digital publications, like books and magazines.

The machine comes with a calendar, address book and iTunes music library built in, and offers thousands of available applications.

Some analysts predict potential buyers may not perceive the device as different enough from the laptops and smart phones they already own to warrant the $500 price tag.

Mark Maloof, head of the graduate computer science program at Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown University, says he doesn't think that will be a problem. "I think it's going to be able to do some things that laptop computers and certainly desktop computers are not going to be able to do, and even though a lot of the functionality you have on an iPhone is present on the iPad, just the fact that you have such a larger screen is really going to change things," he said.

The 25-centimeter screen is just smaller than a laptop's, and Maloof says that weighing less than a kilogram and measuring just more than a centimeter thick make the machine extremely portable.

He says these perks, coupled with the device's ability to hold lecture notes and access textbooks, could eventually make the machine a must-have accessory for students like his.

The iPad will become available in March, offered in storage capacities of 16-, 32- and 64-gigabytes.