MANHASSET, NY It's a fact of life that an experience often falls short of the euphoric buildup to it. It's the case with Christmas morning and a charismatic president's first year, and now it's the case with the iPad.
Apple's strategy of holding announcements close to the vest is partly to blame, as the self-proclaimed experts are bound to express their disappointment once the guessing games are over. Indeed, once seen and felt, the iPad elicited its share of "so what" responses. But is it really all that disappointing?
Perhaps it is, if you were expecting an all-in-one computer in a tablet format. But I came away with 10 reasons why the iPad is an achievement of value.
1. It's another Apple game-changer with attitude. Apple did not design the iPad to be an all-in-one tablet computer. But it did aim high with its first entry to address this computing paradigm. Comparing the iPad to e-book readers like the Kindle is pointless. Yes, it has some of Kindle's features, but it goes beyond the e-reader platforms, and will go even further in future versions. No less important, it bears the label of a company with two rich-media-content successes. Don't underestimate the power of the brand that brought us the iPod and iPhone.
2. It extends the touch-input ease of use of the iPhone with faster, 1-GHz processing speed to the Web, videos and images. Back in 2007, when the iPod broke sales records for music players, Apple's vice president of worldwide iPod marketing explained the product's success this way: "People have an emotional connection with music, and the iPod is so easy, the emotional connection is preserved." The iPad expands the bounds of that emotional affinity.
3. It has been born into a universe of apps. The iPhonea handheld computer that happens to allow phone callssupported users' many "emotional connections" by letting them switch seamlessly from application to application using touch technology. Now there are more than 140,000 apps for the iPhone, and most of them are available as downloads to the iPad. A software development kit will enable developers to create other applications for the platform.
4. It expands Apple's portable computing platform. The iPad is a multifunction device that compares favorably with large-screen but far more limited e-book readers like the Kindle DX. It features an in-plane switching LCD with 1,024 x 768 resolution and a pixel density of 132 ppi. One can hold it almost any way and still get a brilliant picture, with excellent color and contrast, according to Apple.