The secret is out, Apple came through and satisfied rumors and loyal fans who have been anxiously awaiting the much debated announcement of the Apple tablet computer now known as the iPad.
Continuing the design trend of black glass and aluminum trim, the iPad has been criticized and praised for looking like a larger version of Apple's popular iPhone–it really depends on whether you like or dislike the current design theme that is also present in Macbooks and the iMac line.
I think it looks clean and is noticeably absent of distracting buttons. It's both high tech and simple. The device is slim, light and feature-rich at 1.5 pounds and a half inch thick packing a 9.7 inch screen. It looks good and is designed to feel good (and work "good" too) for as long as 10 hours.
The device is positioned to fill the space between the iPhone and a Macbook or laptop computer. It will have WiFi built in and, if you purchase a device with #G capabilities for an additional $130, you can purchase unlimited data service from AT&T without a contract for $30 a month. The device is not capable of being used as a phone at this time and I'm not sure if Apple or third party developers will add that capability later.
Accessories will include a wireless keyboard, dock and cover/case and other cables for output connection to your media systems.
But the big question is, will I buy one? The price is right, beginning at $499 (the same price as an iPhone without a contract) and equal to many competing netbook products. It will do most of what an iPhone does (except make phone calls and take pictures–which is a pretty big deal), only bigger and arguably better given the larger screen space, memory and technical specifications. It's not as large as a laptop and perhaps more portable with longer battery life.
But that's just it. If you have an iPhone and a Macbook, as much as you might drool over the device and it's good looks and all that you know you can do with it, will it really fill the space and better yet, does the space need to be filled? It does some of what my iPhone does but it's too big to be a phone and doesn't have phone capabilities. I love my iPhone because it's first and foremost a phone and then allows me to do so much more in a device that fits in my pocket. I'd love the screen on the iPhone to be bigger sometimes but that's the sacrifice I make for pocketable portability.
Since it's not as powerful as a laptop, which is what I use for the majority of my work, I would still need to use my Macbook for heavy computing and I even prefer my 27" iMac for really intense internet and business use that requires me to use multiple screens or applications at once. The iPad looks like it might be a phenomenal device but would I really use it and carry it around so that it would be available any time I needed it? As much as I'd like to think otherwise, probably not.
It could be that I already have too many devices. Between my iPhone, my Kindle 2, my Macbook, and my iMac, I've got a lot already invested in technology that meets my needs and that might be overkill for others. The iPad could replace the Macbook and the Kindle, but at significant sacrifice. It lacks the power I need, the dock and keyboard solution is slick but diminishes portability, and LED e-readers aren't as easy-to-read and are a bigger power drain than e-ink even with the iPad's ground-breaking battery life.
To add the iPad to what I already have would cause significant overlap that I can't quite justify even at the outstanding price point. For those who don't have a Macbook and who want to do more online to a greater extent than what you can with a phone or most notebooks, the iPad may be for you. It's the next best thing to having a personal productivity tool, ebook reader and versatile multi-media device all-in-one in a slim, stylish but not quite pocketable do-it-all machine.
Old school Apple Newton fans will be the first in line to get one as soon as they are released. I'm looking forward to playing with one myself, and who knows what might happen a few months from now when the 2nd generation device is released.