More NonSense: Tablet Edition

Apple iPad.
 The thing that bothers me most about the iPad is this: if I had an iPad rather than a real computer as a kid, I’d never be a programmer today. I’d never have had the ability to run whatever stupid, potentially harmful, hugely educational programs I could download or write. I wouldn’t have been able to fire up ResEdit and edit out the Mac startup sound so I could tinker on the computer at all hours without waking my parents. The iPad may be a boon to traditional education, insofar as it allows for multimedia textbooks and such, but in its current form, it’s a detriment to the sort of hacker culture that has propelled the digital economy. - Alex Payne
the iPad appeals to a very deep and longlived fantasy in the consumer electronics world: A device that does it all. At least, if all you want to do is consume media... [it] has all the problems of television, with none of the benefits of computers. - Annalee Newitz

Love 'em or hate 'em (There's not a whole lot of room for in-between), you just can't ignore 'em. Which is why Apple's revealing of the iPad tablet is still a "game changer" in the sense that it's already forcing its competitors to rethink their own future offerings.

I don't have a whole lot to say about the iPad's possible impact on the publishing business, or print comics in particular. My own initial reaction to it was along the lines of "iPod 3.0". This was a predictable and logical next step. The launch of the iPod marked a shift at Apple from personal computer manufacturer to consumer media facilitator. As someone who grew up with the former, the iPad isn't something I need: It's not very customizable; it doesn't run Photoshop or Lightroom or The Gimp; it doesn't use a pen or mouse. In short it's not the Cintiq alternative we graphics artists have long desired. It mystifies me, even though I know it shouldn't, that some people harbored unrealistic expectations that the iPad would be just that. But as a consumer device, it's a natural expansion of Apple's media offerings (music, photos, video, mail, web, voice, and now print). In fact, it's the most sedentary media device yet from Apple.
Penny Arcade by  Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik.

Now, it's predecessors the iPod and the iPhone (iPod 2.0) faced fierce criticism when they were launched. And those criticisms, interestingly, carry over to the iPad. Some of these have, at their core, existed since the time hackers complained about the original Macintosh. And yet Apple has found the right combination of feature-set, "magic", and marketing to convince consumers to inhabit their tightly controlled ecosystem. For better or worse, most of them seem to be okay with it. Apple's hoping to extend its success into the e-reader market. The iPad gambit could easily fail. The economy isn't in the best shape right now. There is the issue of the potential market size for tablets vs netbooks that could make the iPad a tough sell. Will the feature/price-set be still attractive to customers when its finally made available? And there is the question of the content offerings in the iBooks store. The biggest unanswered question underlying the success or failure of the iPad and its competitors is what is the killer app, or principal function, that will draw customers to tablets. Will it be the consumption of e-books and other media, or something entirely different that none of the players anticipated? But it also wouldn't surprise me if Apple leverages the existing iPhone market to somehow pull it of a third time; confounding critics and rivals yet again; opening up a new market; and even managing to convince some consumers to spend $800+ upsell on a tablet of all things that could drop in price at its next iteration.
Netbooks aren’t better at anything. They are slow, they have low-quality displays and run... PC software... [The iPad] is so much more intimate than a laptop, and so much more capable than a smartphone with this gorgeous large display. - Steve Jobs

If given the choice, it's a no-brainer to pick the iPad over the iPhone/iPod and netbook to read the average comics page. Speaking as a "tablet" user, I prefer its form factor for comfortable reading to the standard laptop. And for all the fretting over its limitations, I think it's premature to claim that the device will snuff-out technological innovation, open standards, personal creativity, or artistic expression, vis-a-vis other mass media delivery systems. Apple's certainly not going to be able to prevent many smart people from hacking the iPad after its release. The company's more vehement critics are just as prone to give it too much credit as its hardcore fans.

Jorge Colombo iPhone drawings.

In the meantime, I'll stick with my Cintiq while I'm waiting for the portable graphics tablet of my dreams.

Many people spend all day working in front of a computer, and they simply don’t like the idea of coming home to yet another computer that looks just like the one they use at work.

Just to comment on Daniel Tenner's post -  My not so computer-literate mom was the first to broach the topic of the iPad the day it was revealed to the public. To my mild surprise, she suddenly announced that she would buy one when it became available. It appealed to her as a reading device, and she's not in love with the laptop she uses for email and web browsing. So based on purely anecdotal evidence, I guess there's something to the argument that the tablet could be the uncomputer for the rest of us.