After years of companies trying to cram a computer into a tablet—the resulting boxes have been too heavy, the software too sparse, the screen too small—Apple made what everyone wanted: a sleek device with a gorgeous screen and a dead- simple interface that makes you want to sit back and play. The trick? Rather than shrink a computer, enlarge a phone. By using the same multitouch gestures and App Store as the iPhone, Apple created an intimate gadget for updating your Facebook status, watching a movie, or reading a magazine. Making it look simple, though, is complicated.
The 9.7-inch high-definition screen is the best example yet of in-plane switching, in which liquid crystals are aligned to allow a wider viewing angle than regular LCDs, and its speedy one-gigahertz processor is still efficient enough to run for nearly nine hours on a single charge. Apple sold three million in the first 80 days (more than the iPod or iPhone); now companies are rushing LCD tablets to market. The iPad, something between phone and computer, is what we always hoped a gadget could be. $500–$830.
See more at the Best of What's New 2010 site.