The Washington Times - January 27, 2010, 03:39PM

What a difference a day makes: This morning, in “On Computers,” I speculated a bit about the then-pending Apple tablet device. My greatest hunch was that applications and content would drive the thing. That’s not exactly a stretch, since many people wiser than your correspondent have said the same thing.

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Now comes Apple’s formal announcement of the iPad (the link will take you to Apple’s site, where you can see videos and tons of images) and what do you know? Content and apps are king. Now, if I could only discern winning lottery numbers or Wall Street stocks.

The iPad will run the now-140,000 (Apple’s figure) iPhone/iPod Touch applications available today, but in larger size on a 9.7-inch (diagonal) display. A new eBook application will bring thousands of titles to the platform, Apple said.

As speculated, communication will be crucial: all iPad models will have Wi-Fi access, which portends larger crowds at Panera Bread Co. and other places where the wireless is free. Pricing will range from $499 (with 16 Gbytes of storage) up to $699 (for a 64 Gbyte model). If you want the option of wireless 3G network connectivity, add $130 to those prices. Battery life is being advertised at 10 hours; I suspect the actual mileage may vary, but that third-party firms may come up with battery packs for those trans-Pacific Ocean flights.

All told, the iPad seems to be good news. It’d be better if, as Apple recently did with the MacBook, an SD Card slot were available so that photos could be easily transferred from digital cameras, but perhaps that will come in the second edition.

Me? I’m waiting for Apple to begin taking orders.

(UPDATE: My bad: you will be able to buy an “iPad Camera Connector Kit,” offering adapters for both SD Card memory cards and a USB cable, presumably when the iPad comes out. Apple has the information about this accessory and others, as you scroll down this Web page about iPad technical specifications. Other gear will include a cover for the iPad, a regular dock and one with a keyboard, converting the iPad into a truly typist-friendly device.)