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Fool Analysts Debate the iPad

By Eric Bleeker - Updated Apr 6, 2017 at 2:12PM

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Steve Jobs seems to think the iPad's magical, does our panel of Fools agree?

Yesterday I wrote an article spelling out exactly what features Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad had. My initial reaction was that it was more or less a giant iPhone (OK, Touch, whatever), but opinions on the new tablet run the gamut. With that in mind, we asked some of our Fool writers and analysts about their initial reaction to the iPad:

Tim Beyers, Rule Breakers Analyst/Writer: Never thought I'd say so, but I'm officially wondering if Steve Jobs has lost his touch. Maybe it's just temporary insanity. Either way, "iPad" will soon make every list of unfortunate product names. Jobs is a master marketer; he's better than this.

Otherwise, the iPad is a decent product. There are holes, sure -- no camera, no major improvements in the underlying OS -- but Apple has smartly borrowed a page from Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). Give developers tools to take advantage of the platform quickly, and then let them make it salable. History has smiled on Windows for precisely this reason.

Also, I love that so many geeks hate the iPad. It's delicious loathing, and perfectly reminiscent of the outcry when Apple first launched the iPod Touch. Once thought to be little more than a lightweight iPhone -- but without the phone -- it's now a top-selling platform for mobile games. I'm expecting the iPad to enjoy a similar fate.

I would have liked the iPad a lot more if it was a stripped-down Mac rather than essentially a stretched iPod Touch. This gadget looks svelte and will fit a certain demographic where style trumps substance, but looks utterly useless for someone like me.

Anders Bylund, Fool Writer: It lacks basic features you might expect from the El Cheapo phones you might find in cereal boxes, like a simple camera, and the ability to multitask is missing in the iPad version of the iPhone OS. Mac OS X can multitask; iPhone OS can't. Bad choice.

The silly thing does have some attractive features such as a purported 10-hour battery life and a premium-quality LCD screen, but the downsides outweigh the limited upside for me. I'd rather zip over to (NASDAQ: AMZN) and pick up a comparably priced real computer in tablet form than drop my cash on an overgrown iPod. Even Nokia (NYSE:NOK) has a better tablet in my eyes. It just won't draw as many oohs and aahs as the unfortunately named Apple tablet.

Rick Munarriz, Rule Breakers Analyst/Writer: I can't be the only one who hates the name, and not just because of all of the sanitary napkin jokes. For starters, it sounds too much like iPod. In the comical musings of Billy Reid, "Boston's had the iPad since 2001."

I also searched on Amazon yesterday, and the first item that pops up for "iPad" is rival Hewlett-Packard's (NYSE:HPQ) iPAQ -- a PDA.

Now, I can't lie. I'm going to get one. I can't resist, even though I know Apple makes their stuff obsolete in a year. By spring of 2011, I'm guessing this thing will have a camera -- at least a user-facing one for video-conferencing -- since it's one of the few iPhone/MacBook features it lacks.

I don't think it's as revolutionary as Apple would like to think it is, but it's priced aggressively enough to matter. I like how AT&T (NYSE:T) is offering up a $30 unlimited data plan on the 3G model without a contract -- nice and cheap because it doesn't have to subsidize the hardware for a change.

I would not want to be investing in handheld video game consoles, e-book readers, and perhaps even cable providers at this point.

Eric Jhonsa, Writer: I'd say the biggest thing the iPad has going for it is its instant compatibility with every App Store app. Unmodified, some of these apps will look better than others, but the bottom line is that anyone who's spent time and money building a large app collection for his iPhone or iPod Touch will have a huge incentive to buy one.

The iPad's weight also works in its favor. At 1.5 pounds, it's lighter than almost every netbook, and even many hardcover books. Users should feel pretty feel comfortable carrying one of these things around on a daily basis.

But all the same, I think many consumers will consider a 3G-enabled model to be a must, in order for the device to be useful enough to be worth buying. And at $629 for the cheapest 3G version, plus $30/month in service fees, chances are the iPad will be too rich for the blood of a lot of would-be buyers. Apple would be well-advised to take a page out of the original iPhone launch, and (with AT&T's help) offer lower, subsidized price tags for the 3G iPads shortly after the first units ship.

Seth Jayson, Motley Fool Hidden Gems Co-Advisor: Eric, the apps are the primary problem as well, because people can already fit all those (plus phone calls) in their pocket for less money. And with the 3G model -- and the case which you'll need to keep it from getting scratched -- it'll weigh in near the Macbook Air, which is much more like a real computer.

Rick, you'd better hope there's no camera and video-conferencing coming up, unless you like to look up nostrils. Just do us all a favor and keep the bats out of the cave, my friend. 

I'm with Anders and Tim. The specs really aren't that great. There are 2-pound multitouch netbooks out there with the same battery life that can do real computer work and run video for 8-10 hours. They were all over CES. What they didn't have was Steve Jobs' flair for the overly dramatic, and a captive audience of journalists too deep in star-shock to appreciate the ridiculousness.

I mean, the guy bragged that you could turn it off, come back a month later and use it. Just like the milk in my fridge, I guess. And the art student remark was precious. The SoHo Fingerpaint Academy will no doubt order these by the case. The iBookshelf is an updated knockoff of e-reading programs that have existed for years. And since no one likes reading LCD screens for long, the folks at Amazon are laughing.

Ultimately, this thing will matter about as much as Apple TV -- another product hailed as a killer of cable providers and video game console makers, and another product that no one bought because it didn't do anything better than products that already existed. Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's (NYSE:SNE) PlayStation gave a lot more and were already in the living room.

But Apple's biggest problem is itself. With this uninspired move, every iPhone sold means a lost iPad, and vice versa, except for a few Apple fanatics who will buy the thing on release, then keep their iPad in a purse and use it once a month.

David Forrest, VP, International Development: Everyone in the world is weighing in on what they think of the new iPad. I won't bore you with all of my reactions to it other than to say my knee-jerk reaction was "Is that it? It's just a big Touch." That's not a bad thing, the Touch is nice, and the iPad looks beautiful. But, it's not "magical" and it falls well short of what should be possible by now, and what I was personally hoping for as a consumer.

As a jumping-off point, the iPad 1.0 is great, but let's discuss all of the things it should have but doesn't.

  • Multitasking: It's insanely terrible that you're this far down the developmental path with applications and mobile devices and don't allow apps to run in the background. INSANE.
  • Video/Phone: How can you possibly make something this big, thin, and beautiful sitting on a 3G network, and not have an actual telephone? I want to mount this thing on my kitchen wall and have it replace my stupid land line. I want Spacely Sprocket and George Jetson touchscreen video calls.
  • AT&T: Really? Again? You haven't gotten enough complaints from people about how much they hate AT&T to at least consider allowing people to choose their own carrier? What's AT&T offering you for exclusivity? This is not so magical.

Will I end up buying an iPad 1.0? I'm sure I will, if only for the awesome movie-watching capabilities on an airplane. I love Apple and their products. I just hope the elves are working on something much more spectacular for next time.

That's it for our Foolish opinion; have something else on your mind? Leave a comment below!

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