The newest economic stimulus has arrived, courtesy of Apple: the iPad. (We will try not to mock the name.) The long-awaited digital reader / tablet computer seems to have blotted out the rest of the world's news, as Steve Jobs confirmed its existence and ran through its features during a presentation today.

Meanwhile, other eReader makers are responding with their own announcements: Amazon said that it'll let developers start making Kindle apps, and B&N's poor Nook (or should we say "shnook") is back-ordered until sometime after the next ice age.

Size-wise, the Apple tablet is somewhere between the iPod Touch and a netbook, with a 9.7-inch screen. It comes in 16-, 32- and 64-GB versions and uses a back-lit LED so it can be read in low light. It has a multitouch screen and runs Safari for browsing. It also has a new application called iBook, which connects to an iTunes-like bookstore, in case you still read anything longer than a blog post.

Here is the big oops so far: no Flash support. Also, you can't multitask.

The iPad starts at $499 (around twice the price of the Kindle and the Nook) and ships this spring. All will be WiFi-enabled, and there is a 3G option.

Plus, the iPad is more absorbent than all the other tablet computers out there. (Sorry, couldn't help it.)