The Apple tablet: Marvel or menace?


So, like everyone even vaguely in the tech industry, I am required by law to be enamored with Twitter. Are you following my feed @jfruh? Well, why not? Because it could be your key to a guest spot in this blog! I tweeted about my blog post last week on my reservations about the supposedly upcoming Apple tablet, somewhat cheekily referring to the still-theoretical device as terrible and pointless. This got blowback from one of my followers, @chictech, who, it turned out, was Laptop Magazine News Editor K.T. Bradford. After some good-natured 140-character back-and-forth, we ended up deciding to a point-counterpoint on our blogs -- so here we are! I'm letting her go first, since she's my guest here.

When tweeting on the iPad's limitations last week, Josh noted the lack of physical keyboard and predicted that all users would be able to do is surf the web, read email and watch or listen to media. For $600, a price we both agree is in the likely ballpark, he didn't see much point to the thing. And in his IT World post he further stated that the iPad fell into the same category as nettops and i-computers and will fail accordingly.

I disagree that the iPad will be as limited as Josh envisions. Extrapolating from what I've seen on the iPhone and iPod Touch, I can see Apple's tablet being an excellent on-the-go machine for students, bloggers, even professionals. Apple's tablet will surely not be more limited at 10 inches than the iPhone. With room for better hardware and more screen real-estate to work with, it will have much more functionality. A touchscreen tablet is only as exciting as its software, true. But Apple has shown what is possible and allowed developers to expand those possibilities with the app store. Imagine the e-reader apps that allow written notes and markups, or the word processor apps that mix paper and electronic editing functions, or the accelerometer games writ large. The key to my excitement is the notion of a tablet with software that lives up to the promises of the hardware.

Apple's tablet will slide easily into the netbook space, though it will find itself at the high end. This isn't a bad thing -- as Josh points out, Apple is comfortable occupying that niche. But beyond just being more expensive, this tablet will take mobile computing to another level. Yes, it will lack an attached keyboard, freeing it up for use on the go. Truly on the go -- on the bus or subway, while walking or standing in line.

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