The liveblogs by the Times and, especially, Macworld are the way to go for details. I thought it’d be nothing more than an iPod Touch with Kindle support built in, which would have doomed it to be merely a supplement to one’s laptop or desktop. (Why not simply get a Kindle instead?) Turns out it is an iPod Touch with Kindle support — they’re partnering with Amazon on something called “iBooks” — but it also includes the iWork suite to let you do things like word processing and spreadsheets. That makes it less of a supplement than a full-blown replacement device. Intriguing.
Price? That’s the big news. Macworld:
$499 for 16GB is the base model. For 32GB it’s $100 more, for another $100 you get 64GB of storage. The 3G models cost an extra $130 to build in radios. $629, $729, $829. These are the six models. The most expensive model is just $829. Unbelievable price.
Worried about having to type at length on a touchscreen keyboard that isn’t necessarily conducive to thumb-typing? Don’t be: The docking station comes with a standalone traditional keyboard built in. (The Times’s liveblog has a photo of it.) They saved that detail, plus the news about the price, for the very end to reassure people that this is in fact being marketed as a really cheap alternative to the home computer rather than a really expensive glorified leisure device like the iPod or Kindle. In fact, have a look at the movement in Apple’s stock as the presser wore on and it became clear that they were going for something more ambitious and widely marketable than was previously thought. A 10-dollar swing in the span of 90 minutes.
So why won’t I buy one? Well, (a) I have no need for portability, (b) trying to blog all day on a 10-inch screen would leave me blind after a few months, and (c) ain’t no way I’m giving up my cable modem for 3G. But your mileage may vary. Plus, check out the photo of the MLB.com app display at Macworld. Interactive onscreen game features while you watch? Dude.
Update: A good point from Andy Levy: How easy will it be to read books for hours on end on a backlit device?