No, I won't let it go: I'm still arguing with friends about why I don't believe in the iPad. I suppose I should clarify that my disdain for the device should in no way be seen as a belief that it will fail. The iPad is already sold out by default, just the same way that the Kindle was.
But as I read the in-advance reviews, that comparison raises a red flag. For the past 13 years, I have watched so many electronics, tech, and game companies bowl the critical press over with "exclusive," early access to their toys. I call this "FIRST POST!" phenomenon, after some folks' habit of rushing to post a comment before anybody else.
The early reviews have gotten my girlfriend salivating. I want one! she cried repeatedly. It'll replace my laptop! she insisted. But I watch her use her MacBook in a very specific way—20 browser windows open at the same time (and spread around the screen to click between each), a desktop cluttered with important files (not organized in folders, no, never), a lot of word processor windows open for work, and a fondness for Netflix DVDs over streaming.
The iPad, very proudly, says no to the way she likes to use her computer. You can't open a bunch of windows spread across the screen. You can't save files locally. The "Office" suite is lackluster for multi-document use. There's no DVD drive.
The iPad will disappoint many users who see it as a laptop replacement. It's not the hardware's fault—it's because of the incredibly closed nature of the iPhone's operating system. There will always be that lingering feeling of, "oh, it's so close to doing exactly what I want." (Hackers are already on the iPad, by the way, if our Seattle pal Matt Hickey is to be believed.)
These factors are easy to overlook amid all the other iPad features, but I don't see any early critics saying they gave up their laptops or desktops in favor of the iPad during their two weeks of advance access to the iPad. Nor did I see anybody give up normal books for two weeks when first trying out the crappy, cheap-feel first edition of the Kindle (a point Cory Doctorow addresses here). Just sayin'.