Steve Jobs, in his typical black turtleneck and jeans, took the stage in San Francisco today to a standing ovation from the Apple faithful. He promised to unveil some “truly magical products,” and he did: the iPad, Apple’s long-awaited tablet computer.

Jobs called the tablet a “third category” that had to be “better than a laptop and better than a smartphone.” He demoed web surfing, e-mail (in two panels), the touch-screen iPhone-esque keyboard, iTunes, iPhoto, and video.

“When we set out to develop the iPad, we not only had very ambitious technical goals and user interface goals, we had very aggressive price goals,” Jobs said. “We want to put this in the hands of lots of people. … We have met our cost goals. I am thrilled to announce that iPad pricing starts at $499.

The 16GB iPad with just Wifi will be $499, with 32GB and 64GB coming in at $599 and $699. With both Wifi and the 3G network, the models cost $629, $729, and $829. Wifi models start shipping in 60 days, and 3G models in about 90 days. The 3G models come with one of two no-contract data plans: 250 MB of data for $14.99, or unlimited data for $29.99, both with AT&T. Jobs said international deals will be in place in June or July.

The devices weighs 1.5 lbs, and is a half-inch thick, and has a 9.7-inch display, with full capacitive multi-touch. It has a 10-hour battery life — with a month of standby time.

iPads are designed to run both regular iPhone apps (at twice the size) and specific iPad-only apps. The developer kit will be available today, and The New York Times, Major League Baseball, EA, and Gameloft all demonstrated iPad-geared applications. Apple also showed off a dedicated iWork suite of apps (Keynote, Pages, etc), each for $9.99.

In its role as eReader-killer, the iPad will come with iBooks, more or less iTunes for books, which will “allow you to discover, purchase, and read” e-books right on your iPad.

Holy moly, PopWatchers: Do you want one or what?

More on the iPad:

Image credit: Kimberly White/Reuters/Landov