Apple presents next must-have device: hand-held tablet
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A consumer technology giant, Apple, this week unwraps its long-awaited, breathlessly hyped tablet computer. The wireless media device to be introduced Wednesday is likely to have a 10-inch or 11-inch touch screen -- nearly two inches wider than the popular Kindle book reader and a lot bigger than screens on smart phones such as Apple's iPhone. Stay tuned for the name of this new product, expected to reach stores in March and be priced around $800.
Tablets -- also called slates -- are one-piece computers without separate keyboards. Unsuccessful first generation models, including one from Apple called the Newton Message Pad, had a pen-like stylus to tap buttons or write on the screen -- more cumbersome than a mouse and keyboard. Apple now will pitch its 2010 tablet as a handy way to enjoy movies, TV shows, books, magazines and newspapers.
"Holding a 10-inch screen in your hands is similar to holding a hardcover book," says New York Times blogger Nick Bilton. "Although this screen doesn't fit in your pocket, it does feel surprisingly natural in your hands -- much smaller than a traditional magazine and a little larger than a paper book." Another writer, David Goldman of CNNMoney.com, says: "The problem with hand-held tablets is that they're middle-of-the-road devices. They have better functionality than smaller gadgets, but don't have enough functionality to replace your PC."
School uses: Apple and giant publisher McGraw-Hill are discussing digital textbooks and other educational content for the tablet.
Critic says: "Tablets don't meet an obvious need. My laptop does just fine for everything we're told the tablet will do). They're too large and fragile to be truly portable, but also too small and keyboard-less to make sense for home use." -- Paul Carr, TechCrunch blogger
Market researcher says: "The Apple tablet will have a beautiful user interface, it will have a pleasing aesthetic and will be marketed well. But at the end of the day, we're still talking about a smart phone with a bigger screen." -- Chris Collins, senior consumer analyst at Yankee Group in Boston
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