Apple announce the iPad

You’ve probably already heard about it, but last Wednesday’s mystery Apple event turned out (not unexpectedly) to be the launch of a tablet computer. Chief Executive/Emperor Steve Jobs had his ‘fully operational battle station’ moment, surprising the media with the name iPad, and ensuring a copyright battle with Fujitsu, who launched a handheld computing device for retail stock control called iPad back in 2003.

Jobs’ presentation skills are polished, and he was at his best, enthusing listeners with his belief that the product fills a gap in the market. He says it sits between smartphones and laptops, and should claim the position currently usurped by upstart netbooks. Jobs promoted the merits of iPad as a better experience than any current handheld or laptop, for browsing, email, photos, video, music, games and eBooks. Apple aren’t in the business of making small claims.

It was easy to be mesmerised and buy into these ideas, and outside of all hype, the iPad is impressive. The 9.7” touchscreen has a resolution of 1024x768 and does appear to provide a dreamy browsing experience. I have no doubt that this is a cool product, and my gadget-sense tingles a bit, but I don’t want one.

I feel attached to my keyboard and mouse. Apple acknowledge this and already plan a combined keyboard and charger dock. Yes, I think it would be vaguely nice to be able to just grab my monitor screen and carry it around like a book, but it’s only a distant thought, I have no real desire. iPhone popularised the app, but everything the iPad does seems to me to be already popular.

The Apple A4 1GHz chip is powerful in phone terms, but nothing when compared to the processors in my desktop or laptop. It has no extra graphical support and we don’t know how much RAM will be available. Plus the idea of 6 versions being launched irks me, a clutch of three Wi-Fi iPads first in April (with 16, 32 or 64G of storage), then the same again later with 3G access. Nonsense.

Finally, and as usual, this is an Apple only bandwagon. No USB port to plug in third-party gizmos, and no expandable memory. Once you buy that 16GB version for $499, you’re stuck with it.

If I have plenty of spare cash (I wish!), I may go for an iPad 2 or 3 in a couple of years. Or I may not.

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