It is bigger than an iPhone and smaller than a netbook, and it looks like the kind of technology we will all own when we are jet-packing to and from our jobs at the hover-car factory. It is the iPad, and its unveiling was announced with much fanfare today by Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

The iPad is a touch-screen tablet that allows users to browse the Web, use e-mail, play music and games, store photos and watch videos, television and movies. Virtually every app in the Apple App Store is available, scaled to fit to a bigger screen. Like its cousin The Kindle, the Apple device will allow users to read books thanks to an iTunes-like service called iBooks. The tablet is 0.5 inches thin, weighs 1.5 pounds and has a 9.7-inch display. The battery life is 10 hours and standby mode lasts up 30 days. (Like someone would be crazy enough to buy an iPad and not use it for 30 days.) It is built with an Apple-made 1GHz chip. The 16-gigabyte version will cost $499, the 32-gig will cost $599 and the 64-gig will cost $699. The tablets have WiFi. Customers can sign up for AT&T 3G Internet; a 250-megabyte-per-month plan costs $14.99 and unlimited Internet costs $29.99. The iPad will be available in March.

According to CNET, the announcement at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco slowed down Twitter by eight to nine minutes.

The iPad will occupy a space in the market – and in homes – between the iPhone and the laptop. Jobs presented the device as something a user would sit down with in the living room or the kitchen. (Its optimal home? Probably in the bathroom. But Jobs was too polite to mention this, and placing a toilet onstage instead of a comfy chair might have freaked out Apple’s shareholders.) You could also imagine anyone who commutes via train or who spends a lot of time in airports or on airplanes utilizing the iPad. "It’s so much more intimate than a laptop and so much more capable than a smartphone," Jobs said.

"Is there room for a third device?" Jobs said. "Now, some people have thought – that’s a netbook. The problem is, netbooks aren’t better at anything. … They’re slow. They have low-quality displays." Jobs added, “In order to really create a new category of devices, those devices are going to have to be far better at doing some key tasks. We think we’ve got the goods. We think we’ve done it.”

Oh, and if you would like to win one, follow Break on Twitter and Facebook. Details to come.

Jobs unveils iPad