I’m glad to see the iPad is announced. It looks like an interesting device, not quite a notebook, not quite an iPhone. I, however, don’t see how it’s anything beyond a portal to give Apple more money.
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1. AT&T. Seriously, a “breakthrough” deal with AT&T is like being the fastest reader in remedial reading class. You’re still in remedial reading class.
2. No Flash. It’s astonishing how much stuff I watch in Flash on my laptop, and it being missing on this device is going to be a big hole. Lots of stuff is in YouTube, but not everything, and HTML5 isn’t going to solve this problem for quite a while, either.
3. You still need a desktop to dock this thing to, for anything beyond basic downloading or web browsing. Despite what some apps can do (including iWork), it really is just a standalone viewer of content.
4. The dock and keyboard setup is a kludge. It appears clunky, certainly not easily portable, and looks like it’ll fall over when you try to click on something by touching it. I’m skeptical. I think a netbook or cheap laptop will continue to smoke the iPad for anybody who needs to type anything. Heck, you can add an external USB keyboard and a mouse to a netbook.
5. E-books with DRM. There is no mention of being able to use anything but EPUB format books. I’d like to be able to read things from Project Gutenberg, for example, or anything that an independent party might like to push out. Furthermore, it looks as if EPUB doesn’t work well for technical books or books that need precision graphics placement (comic books, for example).
6. No user-replaceable batteries, though it’s not a huge deal because you can charge just about anywhere. If their battery life figures aren’t inflated it should be enough for a day’s use. Plus, with a tablet I’m anticipating third-party form-fitting add-ons that boost battery life. I worry about wear on the battery, though — after a year or so of daily charging batteries lose significant capacity.
7. It is still tied to the draconian App Store policies. Apple still controls who can put what on this device, and their policies are not consumer-friendly. Take Google Voice as an example. Maybe Apple should watch their first commercial, “1984,” and see what their message was then.
8. No multitasking. On a real computing device you can switch between apps and not lose your place. I understand the implications for battery life and whatnot, but I’d like the option to quickly switch between apps, like an SSH client and a web browser, and keep my sessions.
Looking at Apple’s list of things they think the iPad can do better:
Browsing: netbooks for the win. A netbook has Flash and can run any web browser, not just the Apple-prescribed browser and technologies.
Email: netbooks for the win. The external keyboard is a kludge, not portable, and I’m guessing they added it because typing on the screen sucks.
Photos: I’ve changed this based on new information in the comments. I didn’t realize that the iPad had a camera connector, so I’ll dub this a tie. Netbooks are more flexible and can run more software packages, but the display & interface on the iPad will likely smoke a netbook’s. What does remain to be seen is if iPhoto or something like it will be ported to Windows. If that happens it’s iPad FTW.
Video: netbooks for the win. Aside from the lack of Flash on the iPad, which disables most Internet video players, you are only able to watch video encoded with Apple-prescribed codecs.
Music: iPad. The iPod is the standard, and the iPad will draw on that heritage.
Games: iPad. The games for the iPhone and iPad are so-so, but netbooks really don’t have the ability or interface to play anything.
eBooks: libraries for the win. A paperback book doesn’t take any power, can be read in many differing conditions, isn’t made of toxic waste, isn’t locked to a carrier, doesn’t have a monthly fee (though one would argue your library has a fee in the form of taxes), can be loaned to your cousin, is available at millions of locations, has an easy-to-use interface, can be dropped on the floor or crushed in your luggage, and can be donated to or borrowed from a library or a book swap when you’re done with it.
I think, for now, I’ll stick with a netbook and a paperback.