Potentially the release of Apple’s iPad (as we now know it’s called) could have a huge impact on the way books are sold and read. That was the word on the street. So at 6pm last night I tuned in to a live stream and a live blog (- click for pics) of the launch event.

Mostly I was disappointed.

What I was hoping for was a super swanky take, by the super swanky Apple, on the eReader. Maybe that was wishful thinking. That is not what the iPad is. In fact I’m not sure I know exactly what it is. I’m not totally convinced the people at Apple do either. But what it seems to be is, err, a really big and (admittedly) very cool version of the iPod touch. A cool gadget. Excellent screen resolution (for photos and movies) all multi-touch screen and, well, everything else the touch does but bigger, faster and better.

In order to avoid a very long post, here are my problems.

Its size. The iPhone (which I own and love) is a wonderful device. It gives me really handy things from a device which fits in my pocket. I can browse the web from a device that fits in my pocket. I can email, easily and efficiently, from a device that fits in my pocket. The device that fits in my pocket I can use as a phone, play games on, text from, etc etc. And IT FITS IN MY POCKET.

The iPad will not fit in anyone’s pocket. So it’s no more portable than a laptop or netbook.

The Touch Screen. Yes, this is clever. Yes it looks cool and like something someone might have in Star Trek. But as a device you’d use to type up a story, for example, I can’t see how it would work. The keyboard’s a touch screen jobby that pops up on the tablet itself (like the iPhone). But that means that you’d be typing where the screen is rather than typing flat and looking at a screen that’s perpendicular to a keyboard. I’m thinking back problems, neck strain and, well, just not being comfortable. Apple are offering a keyboard (which is almost the same size as a laptop’s) dock but once that’s attached I can’t see how different it would be to working on a laptop or desktop or netbook. And you’d have to carry it around with you. Hmm.

That it’s not an eReader. The ace that the Kindle, Sony Reader et al have in their hand is that they use electronic ink. That means that the screen doesn’t look like a computer screen. It isn’t backlit. There’s no eye strain. You can read it in sunlight. It looks almost exactly like paper and , I must say, having seen it, it’s bloody impressive. All the other readers on the market are around about the same size as a paperback, and mostly thinner. This is good. This means I can put it in my pocket. With the iPad the screen (albeit an impressive high resolution one) IS backlit. And the device IS too big to fit in a pocket.

And the last bit’s what’s disappointed me the most. In conjunction with the iPad’s launch, Apple have also announced their new iBooks store (like iTunes but for books). Personally I think they could have made more of this and provided something more (e) reader friendly.

So there are my impressions. I’m sure it’ll sell well. I’m sure it’ll be competition for the Kindle (btw what I’d like to see is the option to buy eBooks from wherever I like and to read them on whichever device I choose) and I’m sure the fact that its 16G memory is the same as my iPod nano won’t hinder it.

I think I was just expecting more. Or something different.

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