There's been a lot of chatter about the iPad today and to put it out there from the start I was expecting outstanding things from Apple with their tablet. What I wasn't really expecting was the tablet to be a large version iPhone but in retrospect that isn't too surprising.
The device itself looks absolutely stunning and 4:3 aspect ratio aside, watching video whether it's streaming H.264 or YouTube is going to be stunning whilst sitting on the sofa.
And that brings me to the ALMOST great part.
I've been talking heaps recently about context - how the device you are engaging with is used depending on your mind state and your location. For example using a mobile device on the move is different than using a laptop on a table in a cafe.
For a tablet the killer context, in my opinion, is what I call "lounge computing" - the idea that you are using a computing device in a relaxed environment for non-serious computing. By non-serious I mean not hard core gaming (that's what your PS3 / Xbox360 is for) and not desktop computing (banging out an email but not answering 50 in your inbox). It's looking up a map, watching YouTube videos, using web sites etc.
Lounge computing is all about generalised, casual computing where you don't need loads of power but need internet connectivity, a great sized screen and enough control over the environment you can customise it.
Hardware wise I think Apple nailed it. There's been lots of chatter about "why doesn't it have an SD card slot", " how come it doesn't have a webcam" but if you want (and need) all that stuff, go get a netbook. I've talked a lot about the power of these devices being in the network. With cloud or network storage the space limitations aren't an issue, with a home media server you can stream your music or videos (or just use your iTunes account).
What I would have love to see from Apple though is really crafting the experience around the lounge computing experience. Getting Flash on the device for starters would have been ideal but also things like a higher res screen. I'm also not so keen on the "just put an app from iPhone on the iPad" - the contexts and devices are very different so loses a lot of relevance.
This platform will end up being absolutely fantastic but we might have to wait until the Gen 2 devices before there is enough iPad specific apps to really tap into the lounge computing experience but once that time comes and with the experience and feedback Apple will get in this market over the next 18 months, the Gen 2 release will really hit the mark with consumers.
Source for citation: ajfisher.me/2010/01/28/ipad-almost-great.