Apple Unveils the iPad

San Francisco, California (CNN) -- Apple CEO Steve Jobs on Wednesday unveiled the iPad, a tablet computer that he called "a truly magical and revolutionary product."

"What this device does is extraordinary," Jobs said. "It's the best browsing experience you've ever had. Way better than a laptop. Way better than a smartphone."

The tablet will act as a sort of missing link between a smartphone and laptop. The model Jobs demonstrated at an invitation-only event in San Francisco operated without a hardware keyboard, with Jobs typing on its glass screen.

It has a nearly 10-inch screen, runs existing apps from the Apple apps store and is available in 16-gigabyte and 64-gigabyte versions, according to Jobs.

Jobs said the iPad will be lightning fast: "It screams," he told a crowd that included former Vice President Al Gore.

Some members of the struggling print media have expressed hope in recent weeks that a popular Apple tablet could renew interest in their content while bringing new revenue through subscription plans or iTunes purchases.

Apple disciples -- and, yes, some await each new product announcement from the company with near cult-like devotion -- have been anticipating a tablet computer for several years.

The company has been considering designs for such a device since as early as 1983 and some smaller consumer-electronics companies already have rolled tablet computers onto the market.

At the event, Jobs demonstrated several functions on the iPad, including Google Street View and a reader function -- which he used to pull up the New York Times and Time magazine.

The tablet was expected to shake up the e-reader market by displaying books and newspaper and magazine articles on its color screen. -- CNN's Doug Gross and Brandon Rigs contributed to this report.