I think the iPad will be a big disappointment for Apple and its customers.

Look, this is just a giant iPod Touch, and that is about it. Kind of like a phone, but it does not fit into a pocket. And no multitasking, full-version software, USB ports, video outs, or Flash. Microsoft tried this with Windows CE, and look where that wound up.

The iPad has a processor slower than a netbook, no physical keyboard, and runs a stripped-down version of OS X. Not stripped-down like Google’s Chrome OS, which can still run a full browser and software, but stripped-down like the iPhone.

You want to browse the web and carry a lighter computer? Get a netbook. You want portable, stripped-down apps? Get a smartphone. You want to play games on something too big for your pocket? Get a Wii. Paul Miller from Engadget put it this way:

Overall, the device just doesn’t do anything I can’t already accomplish more excellently with another device: I produce content on my laptop, I consume content on my TV, and there’s no way you’re convincing me that you can have the best web surfing experience without a keyboard.

When are you really going to reach for the iPad instead of one of your other devices?

The only thing the iPad really competes with is e-book readers like the Kindle and Nook. While the iPad is undoubtedly a fuller reading experience, those e-paper screens are still easier on the eyes than the iPad’s glossy, and soon-to-be smudgy touchscreen. Besides, the Kindle is much cheaper, while the iPad is bigger, heavier, and requires a monthly internet subscription if you want the Kindle’s always-on access to a bookstore.

If you really think tablets are the wave of the future, check out the HP Slate. The Slate is closer to what I imagined a tablet should be. A decent processor running a real operating system, so that I can check my e-mail, pull up my case files for the document camera in court, and use Skype to keep in touch with my associate. It is hampered by Windows 7, which is a great OS, but not (so far, anyway) particularly small-touchscreen-friendly.

I do want a tablet/slate/pad/whatever, but the iPad is not what I am looking for. I do not think it is what American consumers are looking for, either, and I predict Apple’s first major flop in some time.

(image: unknown)