Apple to release Etch-a-Sketch of the future?

For years now, we've only been able to enjoy the benefits of the government's top secret, Timecop-like program of space-time continuum manipulation in a single form—Dippin' Dots. Soon, however, Jean-Claude will bring back a device from late 2010 to wreck some righteous Van Dammage on early 2010.

The iPad is finally, probably coming.

That's right. The much-ballyhooed, over-hyped, long-awaited, inappropriately lusted-after, giant iPod Touch is finally, finally, finally close to fruition. Assuming you believe all the rumors. The current grist from the mill comes courtesy of AppleInsider, which reports that the Steve Jobs has blessed the device with a sprinkling of freshly secreted bile. The device will theoretically sport a 10-inch touch screen and a chip from P.A. Semi. My own sources tell me that the iTab will run a new version of OS X called "Liger" that will be flippin' sweet.

One interesting bit of speculation floating around is that the iFrisbee will be sold through, and subsidized by, Verizon. This subsidy will allow the device to live somewhere between the prices of a 32GB iPhone 3GS and Apple's now single MacBook offering. Which sounds pretty dumb to me. Not that I want a higher-priced device, of course, but why would I want to tether myself to another contract for a device that isn't even a phone? If the iPod touch doesn't need a wireless carrier, why should the iSpatula? It makes sense, somewhat, to have one's iPhone tied to a cellular network. After all, you usually keep your phone on you as you wander hither and yon in search of doubloons. And while X might mark the spot, it doesn't necessarily come with a Wi-Fi signal.

But are you really going to lug your iMaxi around to places you wouldn't take your laptop? Or are you more likely to use it on the couch, at Denny's (free WiFi with your Moons Over My Hammy®) or at the office? And even if you would like to use it in non-Wi-Fi setting, will you be willing to pony up a monthly fee to do so? Not I.

Pricing issues aside, I'm hard pressed to get excited about the iSlab. Sure, it sounds cool as all get out, but what am I supposed to do with the thing? Rather, what I am supposed to do with it that I couldn't do with either my iPhone or MacBook Pro? It's not as if this one device will supplant the two. I can see its application in commercial settings. I'm already picturing Apple Store employees using the iSteno to jot down orders, note technical issues and draw Hitler mustaches on the hobbit at the Genius Bar who keeps swiping the Jolt from the employee fridge.

I can even see mounting one in the kitchen so my beloved wife can peruse the intertubes whilst dodging pea bombs from the kiddos. But as much as I love the supremely bourgeois over-techification of life in general, I'd have a hard time shelling out a few hundred bones for that convenience. Subsidy or no. Actually, definitely no if that subsidy comes with a contract.

So I'm left to ponder: what's the point? Will the iPuck be Apple's next Cube? The company can't keep popping off home run after home run forever. And once the people who buy new gear for the sake of having new gear (a group to which I've never belonged, mainly for financial reasons), who's going to keep the iMat a profitable model? There's a reason you don't see a lot of tablets out in the wild, and I suspect it has nothing to do with the fact that Apple hasn't yet made one.

Still, I'm making an effort to be a more positive person. So to the end I've come up with a few viable, if unsanctioned, uses for the forthcoming iMnotanetbook:


Shoot. Can't think of any. My snark chip must be on the fritz.

Personally, I'd like to see a tablet/laptop hybrid. Basically, a MacBook Pro with a touch screen that I can swivel and fold down over the keyboard. I swear I've seen such things in the PC world, but there's a good chance I was just watching Freejack. That Emilio Estevez—what a card. Anyway, such a machine would give me all the functionality of a laptop—you know, a keyboard, optical drive and stuff—with the ability to go all multi-gesture Minority Report when the urge strikes. Which, as you've probably figured out from the rest of this post, wouldn't be often.

Really, it comes down to this: I have a hard enough time getting the air bubbles out from under my screen protector on my iPhone. How many weeks would it take to do that on a 10-inch screen?

I know a lot of folks are geeked out on the idea of the iToast. If you're one of them, tell me and the rest of the TR army why.



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