iPad gets mixed reception at Arden Fair

Event guests play with the new Apple iPad during an Apple Special Event at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts January 27, 2010 in San Francisco, California. CEO Steve Jobs and Apple Inc. introduced its latest creation, the iPad, a mobile tablet browsing device that is a cross between the iPhone and a MacBook laptop.

Hello and welcome to iPad.

Welcome to what?

iPod? iPhone?

Nope, iPad, Apple’s latest device, the digital tablet that made its debut in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Some in Sacramento were just learning about the new item – cloaked in secrecy save for several pre-launch leaks – Wednesday afternoon.

“I just heard about it on the news. I don’t know anything about it,” said Bob Morales of Vacaville, standing outside the Apple Store at Arden Fair mall while his wife, Lucia, waited for her Mac Pro to be repaired. “But everyone was speculating on it. I guess that’s what gets all the excitement up.”

Apple’s previous unveilings of the iPod and iPhone were widely anticipated events, and buzz should follow the new tablet – think iPhone but bigger and with no call function – to store shelves.

It’s a half-inch thick and weighs a pound and a half with a 9.7-inch touch screen display that could catch the attention of those who use electronic reader devices like the Amazon Kindle. It has a 10-hour battery life and can run games.

The cost will range from $499 to $829, depending on storage capacity and 3G wireless connectivity.

David Lee of Fremont is “one of those crazy people who waited in line for an iPhone” in 2007, he said. But the accountant knew little about Apple’s latest device.

“I haven’t had time to keep up to date with Apple. I’ve been too busy,” he said, walking out of the Apple Store. “It might be a little too pricey for some. But after a couple of months, the price may come down.”

New product or not, Vaughan Ramon of Boston was not interested. In Northern California to visit her mother in Winters, Ramon said she is happy with her Mac Pro, thank you.

“I know nothing about the iPad, but I can’t see a need unless Apple creates a need – which they’re good at doing,” she said.

But when Lucia Morales emerged from the Apple Store, she said she expected it to do big business when the tablets reach store shelves.

Morales said customers were asking for the devices while she waited. She wondered aloud how Microsoft Corp. would respond.

Microsoft was expected to present a tablet earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas but did not.

“You’re not going to be able to get through the doors when (the iPads) come in. It’s going to be unbelievable,” she said. “Given this, what’s Microsoft going to do?”