Apple iPad: What’s Missing?

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At first glance, Apple’s new iPad tablet PC appears to do it all, with a host of key multimedia features that includes:

  • eBook and eReader capabilities
  • Rich web browsing, streaming media and e-mail performance
  • Music, movie and photo playback
  • Downloadable apps – including exclusive first-run originals and enhanced iPhone offerings
  • Word processing, spreadsheet and slideshow functionality
  • Calendar, contact and data syncing
  • Multi-touch computing

Apple Tablet Side ViewStill, we couldn’t help but wonder if what was missing from the device was, in actuality, more telling. Here are three key features that failed to make an appearance in the gizmo that we can’t help but wonder as to why they were omitted:

  • Robust Mobile/On-Demand Video – Great: We can download high-definition YouTube video – that means teenage pranks and surfing dogs galore. But what about rumored content bundles and exclusive offerings from traditional broadcast television networks such as ABC, CBS and NBC, or larger film studios? All are naturally supported via iTunes, but the ability to serve as a portable TV or high-definition DVR could have made the Apple iPad a real game-changer right out of the box. We can’t help but wonder if filmmakers and network producers got cold feet after watching the raw deal music publishers got when iTunes essentially gained a stranglehold over the online music distribution market. It might explain the absence, notably at odds with current high-profile partnerships between Apple and newsstand publishers who are more desperate to find a new audience.

  • Videoconferencing Capability – Remember how we couldn’t stop raving about the fact that Skype is coming to your living room via new HDTV models? Us too, which is why is seems yet another glaring omission from Apple’s new hardware on day one. True, tacking on Web cameras might seem like an extraneous feature, and one that would add to the hardware’s already not-inconsiderable asking price. But considering how such features’ inclusion could have completely revolutionized the concept of mobile communications, it seems like another missed chance to catapult the iPad to instant bar-raising status. That goes double when you consider that the gizmo’s price tag puts it in near direct competition with traditional laptops, many of which – even low-end models – offer built-in cameras of their own.

  • Killer Apps – Alright, we get it: iWork’s great for the business user, and even though it looks like a giant iPod Touch, the Apple iPad also makes a compelling case as a potential laptop replacement with its extensive online connectivity and suite of touchscreen computing features. But seriously: How many people are going to rush out and buy one for the privilege of creating sales presentations or enjoying sharper-looking versions of Need for Speed: Shift? It’s cool: We’re as down with the iBooks app and storefront as anyone, and their presence on the gadget seriously calls the value of the entire eReader category into question. At the given price point though, we’re seeing very little reason in terms of actual on-board content to justify spending $500 plus on an overgrown portable media player or artfully-designed web tablet depending on how you choose to look at it.

Granted, a lot of these features may be addressed by future hardware revisions and/or third-party app developers. Still, for now, we can’t help but scratch our heads and wonder why Steve Jobs and co. let these seemingly surefire inclusions slip…

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