Pat Pilcher: Underwhelmed and slightly cheated by iPad

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Apple's latest gadget has left technology writer Pat Pilcher feeling somewhat cheated.

As the Apple tablet hype, rumours and anticipation built, I really wanted the iPad to be a world-changing widget. After getting up at the crack of dawn to follow the Apple announcement online at I came away feeling both underwhelmed and slightly cheated.

Before I go into the why's and wherefores, let's get one thing straight (not to mention reduce the vast piles of hate mail from Apple fan boys) I really like Apple. I've owned Macs, and even wrote for a Mac magazine.

Apple manufactures some of the sexiest gadgetry in the known universe, and as such, are the innovator that all other tech companies inevitably end up following.

Unfortunately my take is that the iPad isn't particularly innovative, or from what I've seen, particularly well implemented.

Specs-wise it does superficially look as if Apple have a world beating product in the iPad. Unfortunately, as the saying goes, the devil's in the detail. Here's why I think the iPod could be one of Apples extremely rare citrus flavoured products.

Branding: What were you thinking Apple? As the trend setter for the tech sector, your branding is emulated by thousands of other companies, so can you explain why you decided to borrow your branding from the feminine hygiene market? iPad simply doesn't have the same rock solid ring to it as the Apple Tablet, nor does it sound as slick as the iSlate.

Face it Apple, the iPad brand is lame.

Multi-tasking: After packing a 1Ghz speed demon monster mobile CPU with oomph to spare that can deliver an astonishing 10 hours of battery life, you leave potential users unable to run more than one application at once? Not being able to catch some tunes whilst surfing and tweeting simply blows.

Web experience: Whilst I realise that Safari isn't the fastest, it is nonetheless could be nicer. Why? How about its complete inability to run Flash or Shockwave, leaving surfing options somewhat limited. This has long been a limitation of both the iPod Touch and iPhone, so wouldn't it have made sense to fix it with the iPad? That said, it is a reflection of Apple's commitment to the upcoming HTML5 web standard.

AV Integration: The iPad has the makings of a killer home theatre component. Being able to download a movie or TV show and take it over to a friends place would've been very cool indeed. Unfortunately there are no HDMI outputs. A third party accessory maker might come up with a fix, but surely the real question is why wasn't an HDMI output simply added in the first place?

Heft: The iPad's bigger screen may make reading the newspaper far more practical compared to the iPod Touch or iPhone, but the sheer size of it makes it somewhat awkward in the portability stakes. Too big for a pocket or purse, the iPad is frustratingly small enough to be misplaced and lost.

Am I being harsh? I doubt it. The iPad appears to be a jack of all trades, yet a master of none. Theoretically, it looks like a great gadget for multimedia and gaming.

As an e-book reader its colour high resolution screen should make it the bee's knees. Having reviewed a multitude of LCD devices over the years, I doubt that reading books and newspaper outside in sunlight day is going to be terribly successful, (especially compared to the e-ink displays used on other more affordable ebook hardware).

Its lack of a direction controller will also likely to limit the iPad as a gaming platform. Touchscreen controls may be flashy, but they're not terribly practical (which is why Sony and Nintendo included physical controls on their portable game consoles).

Then there's the none too significant issue of the iPad's touch screen keyboard. It may be bigger than its iPod/iPhone siblings, but the reality is that touchscreen keyboards are only practical for entering short bursts of text and are pretty much useless for extended data entry sessions.

Might Apple have been better launching a netbook and perhaps an iPhone/iPod update fixing the lack of Flash support? I guess at the end of the day, iPad sales figures will do the talking.

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