Apple made the long (very long) awaited announcement that finally made the Apple Tablet a reality. Welcome the iPad.
There have been rumors and predictions about a return of the mythological Apple Tablet ever since the computer maker discontinued the ahead-of-its-time Newton. Is this finally the tablet we've all been waiting for, or will the iPad, like it's forefather, end up with a fanatical userbase that is ultimately too small to sustain growth?
Apple is calling the iPad the "best way to experience the web, email, & photos." But, the iPad suffers from serious middle-child syndrome. It's not a robust, creative machine like the MacBook. It's not "putting the world in my pocket" like an iPhone. And, unlike either of those products the iPad doesn't have a camera or a microphone! The iPad — and the soon-to-be released iPad-only apps — will have to establish a unique identity if the product is to be taken seriously as a must-have device.
The important question for most users will be, what does the iPad offer that I can't already do? The answer, if you own a MacBook and an iPhone, is not a whole heck of a lot. So the next question becomes, is "the iPad experience" worth $600, assuming you buy the mid-grade model without 3G. How about $829 for the top of line device?
Personally, I'm probably going to buy an iPad. Even though the features aren't particularly unique, the iPad fills a hole in my digital lifestyle. It's smaller than a laptop for lightweight media consumption and bigger than the iPhone which never seemed quite large enough for enjoyable Internet browsing. Plus, my current mobile phone contract bars me from getting a 3G S for another 6 months and I need a new toy.
One thing I won't be doing ... getting the 3G add-on. As far as I'm concerned, AT&T can suck it.
Walk down memory lane and watch this commercial for the Newton. Let's hope the iPad can deliver the goods.