So it’s official. The Apple tablet rumors have ended. At this morning’s Apple event in San Francisco, Steve Jobs unveiled what Silicon Valley has been whispering about for years. Dubbed the ‘iPad,’ Apple’s tablet could be just the thing to launch smartphone-notebook hybrids into the mainstream. "We want to kick off 2010 by introducing a truly magical and revolutionary new product," Jobs said at the event. The iPad is fundamentally a netbook-sized iPhone. Outside of the design, the most impressive thing about the iPad is its 10-hour battery life, which is pretty representative of what we should expect from the category. Also impressive is the weight – 1.5 pounds.

Apple (Finally) Unveils the iPad, its Much-Anticipated Tablet

"It's so much more intimate than a laptop and so much more capable than a smartphone," Jobs said.

Jobs says that the iPad's advantages over netbooks will be its speed and the quality of its display, as well as size and weight.

The iPad has a 1GHz CPU and comes with 12, 32 or 64 GB of flash storage. It will run most existing iPhone apps. The iPad will be the first Apple device to use the 1GHz "A4" processor, which can decode HD video for up to 10 hours on one charge. Some iPads will be wifi-only while others will have 3G (AT&T data plans: $15/m for 250MB of data; $30 for unlimited -- prepaid).

As usual, the design is gorgeous, not straying at all from the iPhone cannon.

There will be similar devices hitting the market when the iPad does, and from what I’ve seen the actual specs of the Apple device are middling compared to others in the category. Of course the others don’t have the App Store or the marketing brilliance of Apple, and not all are tablets, so expect the iPad – despite its potentially higher price and average specs – to be the top selling smartphone-netbook hybrid.

The price range is between $499 for a 16GB wifi-only device and $829 for a 64GB wifi+3G iPad.

By Mark Alvarez