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I don't want to be too harsh -- after all, I've yet to actually hold the latest Apple brainchild in my own hands -- but I've got to say I was mightily disappointed with yesterday's announcement.

Maybe it was inevitable, with the hourslong drumroll ahead of the iPad event. Then again, I don't remember such an overwhelming sense of "meh" when the iPod or iPhone came out. I just remember the extreme and almost immediate coveting.

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But yesterday's introduction was mediocre at best. It's not that Steve Jobs et al didn't meet my expectations -- it's that my expectations were just about dead on. Apple has given us what amounts to an over-sized iPod Touch. If you had asked me a year ago, or even two years ago, what Apple's next device was going to be, I would have said "Well, maybe something a little bigger than the iPhone? But, of course, those geniuses will come up with something much more exciting than that."

Well, maybe not.

Even worse, this device doesn't do much for readers. The screen is too harsh for extended reading -- unless you've already trained your eyeballs to remain in your head after hours of intense staring at your computer screen.

I do have high hopes that the iTunes-style bookstore will help slash e-book prices -- nothing says "good news" to consumers like increased competition, after all. And at $499 a pop, Amazon would do well to slash their Kindle DX price, to remind potential e-readers that Apple's not the only game in town.

But if booklovers were waiting for Apple to smack Amazon around a bit, steal their lunch money and their girlfriend, I know they're disappointed. The truth of the matter is that the iPad isn't designed for readers. It's a multipurpose device, and so it's not perfect for any one thing. It's too big for those hoping for portability; it's too limited for those who wanted to get rid of their laptop or netbook -- no Flash, and there isn't even a USB port on the thing? -- and it's too far behind Amazon to lure me away from my Kindle.

Maybe next year, Apple.

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