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Apple's iPad can stay in bag for airport security screenings

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration announced Tuesday that fliers who bring an iPad through security will conveniently be able to leave their device in its carry-on bag, unlike with a traditional laptop.

According to The Associated Press, the government agency said that most who travel will not need to remove the iPad from their bag, because the device is relatively small and doesn't have "bulky" accessories such as external drives. Those accessories can make it difficult for X-ray scanners, who see a cluttered image when a laptop and all of its accessories go through the machine in a bag.

However, the TSA cautioned that fliers may still be asked to remove their iPad if the scanners cannot get a clear image of the device.

Spokesman Greg Soule told the AP that the TSA is in the process of telling its employees how to handle the iPad for screening procedures. With 300,000 sold on the first day alone, and a 10-hour battery life perfect for watching movies or playing games on the go, it's a device they'll likely run into on a somewhat regular basis.

The convenience could be important to business-minded users who travel a lot and need to do light computing on the go. A March survey found that the No. 1 planned use for the iPad from prospective customers was working on the go.

Tuesday's report noted that although laptops, such as Apple's MacBooks, generally have to be removed from bags, some laptop sleeves that lie flat in an airport X-ray machine are considered acceptable. Such "checkpoint friendly" bags can be purchased online, though the TSA does not approve of specific bags.

"But it has encouraged manufacturers to design bags that will allow screeners to obtain clear images and give travelers the best shot of being able to keep computers in their bags," the report said.

At just 0.5 inches thick, 1.5 pounds in weight and with no physical keyboard, the iPad has been pitched by Apple has being thinner and lighter than any laptop or netbook. The Wi-Fi-only version of the device is now available with a starting price of $499. The 3G-capable model, which will allow travelers Internet access on the go through AT&T's wireless network in the U.S., is due to arrive later this month.