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Apple plans tablet event

Photo by Karie Bradley

Photo by Karie Bradley

Apple Inc. e-mailed invitations to a media event in San Francisco Wednesday that show a calendar page with the corner peeling away to reveal an iPad underneath. The large "2" on the calendar page denotes the event's March 2 date, but is also a hint that Apple is about to announce the follow-up to the original iPad.

But it has a bigger screen that makes reading e-mails, surfing the Web and watching movies easier on the eyes. With a starting price of $499, it's less expensive than many computers and, at 1.5 pounds, it also weighs less. Unlike small, inexpensive laptops such as netbooks, the iPad turns on instantly, so people don't have to wait through a sluggish boot-up. And the iPad also lasts about 10 hours unplugged, making it ideal for travelers and other people on the go.

Apple sold more than 15 million iPads in its first nine months on sale, including 7.3 million to holiday shoppers during the October-December quarter -- about a million more for the quarter than analysts were expecting.