I have been hoping against hope that there would be no tablet, that the efforts of a million fanboys to wish a product into existence would flop. Instead we got what we got today – or rather, will get in a couple or three months. And it is…
…a ten-inch iPod Touch.
No, seriously. For $300, your 16 GB iPod Touch can be stretched to a 9.7″ diagonal screen with a HUGE bezel, where it will do…exactly what your current iPod Touch does, albeit with GPS and a compass. For an extra $130 and another couple weeks waiting, you can have one with 3G data…and play $30 a month for unlimited connectivity.
I haven’t been so disappointed in an Apple product…well, ever. The day the iPhone was announced, I was crestfallen at the release date, then resolved to have the money saved up by day one. The day the MacBook was released, I was in my boss’s office begging for the high-end black model. Today, I don’t really understand what this thing is good for.
Yes, it’s lighter than a notebook (or even a netbook) with good battery life. The display is a bit small for a notebook, but it certainly seems more than big enough for an iPhone-style interface. But in terms of what it gives you versus an iPhone or iPod Touch…well, you get a bigger screen, and if that’s something that works for you, then great. But there’s still no Flash or Java, so while web surfing might be easier to handle, the capability is not materially greater than what you’d get in an iPhone. There’s nothing offhand that suggests I’ll be able to use VPN and Apple Remote Desktop, although I’m sure a VNC app will appear somewhere. And it really doesn’t look like we’re going to see any sort of multitasking, or they probably would have said so.
Oh yes, and you have to try to multi-finger touch-type on a glass screen. Say hello to your new neck surgeon.
Here’s the fatal flaw: if you have an iPhone, you have 90% of this already. Do you really want to pay out double the money again, plus an extra $30 bill every month, just to do it on a larger screen?
And the dealbreaker for me: it is, as Phil Schiller famously mocked the netbook, too big to fit in your pocket. If you have to have a bag or something to carry it in, you may as well just have a 10″ netbook – for half the cost. Pop Ubuntu Netbook Remix on there, and you’ll have a nice easy interface to your browser, your email client, the works. Or just wait six months, and Google will offer you a Chrome-based tablet instead.
Don’t get me wrong – if Apple were giving these things out for $99, I’d be all over it. I might even be persuaded to stump up for the data service. But my iPhone’s got 16 GB of storage right now and is bumping up against full – if I were to play, it would cost me a minimum of $600 right now before even taking the 3G premium into account (which is $130, plus $360 A YEAR. I can bear that expense on a phone because I’m paying for it anyway, but for a whole separate device? NO way).
Long story short (too late): it’s an interesting idea, but right now, at the current price points, the marginal utility for me is nonexistent. I just wonder how many other people will find a reason to give it a whirl anyway.