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How much does the Apple iPad cost? Same as the original iPhone.

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Karl Mondon/Contra Costa Times/MCT/Newscom

(Read caption) Steve Jobs debuts Apple's new iPad at the Yerba Buena Gardens Theater in San Francisco, California, Wednesday.

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs stressed that the new iPad tablet would be a Goldilocks device – fitting in between laptops and smart phones. Its 9.7-inch screen and 3G mobile Internet connection make it more portable than full PCs. Its word processor and performance specs make it more powerful than pocket-sized phones.

But tech tea-leaf readers and countless media articles predicted all of that. What many did not expect was the iPad's Goldilocks price tag.

Last month, PC World turned to Oppenheimer analyst Yair Reiner, who called "for a tablet with a 10.1-inch LCD display and an average sale price of $1,000." The specs we're near misses, but the price aimed far too high.

"All we’ve heard are guesses from analysts, some who claim the tablet will cost as much as $1,000 including carrier subsidy," wrote Wired.com on Sunday. "We estimate the tablet should cost between $700 and $1,000, placing it somewhere in between an iPhone and a MacBook." That also missed the mark – unless you count only the deluxe models.

Even Jobs joked about the expensive forecasts. "If you listen to the pundits, we're going to price it under $1,000, which is code for $999," he said during today's event, according to Engadget's transcript. "When we set out to develop this, we had ambitious tech goals, but we had aggressive price goals."

A 16GB iPad will cost $499, 32GB will be $599, and the 64GB version will go for $699. All models include Wi-Fi Internet access – and 3G mobile antennas can be added for an extra $130.

Compare that to the original iPhone, whose subsidized price rang up to $599 in 2007. And that required a two-year contract with AT&T. (iPad opts for month-to-month plans.) Even today's unsubsidized iPhones cost $599 and $699.

Apple grew surprisingly price conscious as the recession kicked in. They dropped prices on their computers, offered the iPhone 3G for $99, and reportedly sent lawyers after Microsoft to make it take down the Laptop Hunter ads that said Apple computers were more than $1,000.

But has Jobs hit the mark? Will Goldilocks think the iPad's cost is "just right'? We'll find out in 60 days.

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Check out our iPad coverage page for more on the new tablet.

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Do you think the tablet costs too much? Does your wallet already feel $500 lighter? Let us know in the comments.


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