CUPERTINO, Calif. (
) -- Neither "truly magical" nor "revolutionary," the cluelessly named
iPad tablet device has dropped like a shiny wedge into the gadget game, dividing tech watchers in to opposing views -- the critical and the adoring.
A day after Apple CEO Steve Jobs spared no superlative in his introduction of the
to the public Wednesday, it seems the cranky camp has answered first with some heated blowback.
While the iPad takes its feature inspiration from Apple's mobility side of the house, its design comes straight off MacBook drafting tables. Those colliding influences blend into a sumptuous e-reader and sleek media player.
But the list of iPad's shortcomings is surprisingly long, especially considering all the years and number of prototypes Jobs and Apple have worked through to get here.
Gizmo junkies were quick to call the iPad a big iPod Touch -- but in a bad way. Apple, in its characteristically control-freakish way, restricts applications that can be installed and files that can be loaded. In other words, "your" stuff has to go through Apple channels.
One video producer noted that in addition to no
support, the iPad screen's 4:3 aspect ratio, or boxy shape, is a throwback to the days before widescreen high-def formats. And speaking of video, Apple,
. Even $300 netbooks offer Web cams for video calls.
Bigger issues, like the iPad's underpowered iPhone OS software, also loom large in the fevered frustrations of free-speaking fans. Just like the iPhone, the iPad can't run more than one program at a time. No Mac multitasking, the iPad's price tag and power conservation priority trumps your ability to listen to Pandora and read Politico simultaneously.
Day Two reaction from analysts has also been mixed.
Suitably impressed by the introduction, Thomas Weisel analyst Doug Reid bumped up his iPad sales projections to 4.1 million this year, up from the 2.5 million he initially forecast. Reid sees a sales opportunity for the iPad, but not without a little impact on Apple's other products. The iPad "should drive incremental demand well above the minor cannibalization of iPod touch and Mac that may ensue," he says.
RBC analyst Mike Abramsky noted a few hits and misses, but sees where some of the 30 million iPod Touch users may trade up to the iPad.
"The iPad's launch partially exceeded hype, but -- owing to a) high 3G pricing and b) the absence of hoped-for features -- investors may be uncertain whether or not Apple has created a new computing category," Abramsky wrote in a research note Thursday.
managed to work its way into the iPad party, a surprise to more than a few observers who expected
. We haven't heard the last on that, say analysts who expect Apple to produce an iPad for Verizon later this year.
On pricing, Apple managed to cover a broad range of iPad prices, which fall between $500 and $830, not including a $15 to $30 monthly data plan.
Depending on your personal inventory of gadgets and your access to cash, the iPad may not be a must-have item.
"Don't get me wrong -- the device is a nice 'want'," says Martin Taylor, an independent investor and former business development executive at IBM. "But considering that most people probably don't have a discretionary $500-$900 to spend on yet another electronic gadget, especially one carrying another subscription fee, the iPad is not a burning 'need'.
-- Reported by Scott Moritz in New York