The tablet is an iPod is a MacBook is a Newton...
What many a blogger and PC magazine writer out there doesn't seem to get
is that Apple's choice isn't simply to either go "big iPod touch" or "MacBook gone tablet". If you thought the iPod would be "just another MP3 player" before it came along in 2001 or if you thought Apple would create something similar to a SonyEricsson T610i with the iPhone, yes then there are only these options.
But Apple wouldn't be Apple if they weren't all about the whole user experience. The current interface of Mac OS X (as well as the changes coming with Snow Leopard in September) aren't enough for a tablet-style computer to work well. You'll at least need a nice keyboard overlay of some kind, but even so, the standard OS X menubar doesn't make much sense in a touch device, one of the reasons why we don't see such a feature-filled menubar on the iPhone (merely a statusbar). On the other hand, just scaling the iPhone/iPod touch interface to a bigger tablet isn't enough either. If you simply fill a huuuuuge 10" home screen with dozens of apps, it's not a very clever interface anymore. Four or five rows of three or four apps are the most you can view at a glance, I'd say. (But Apple has that covered with Spotlight, anyway.)
Then there's talk about media. That's the easy part, really. Quicktime X looks as if it were made
for such a device. How you handle video and music on the iPhone works _very_ well on a 10" tablet. The bigger screen would simply make it more enjoyable. Similarly, iPod touch style gaming would surely be very enjoyable on a larger touch-screen.
But what about productivity apps? There certainly _are_ things such a tablet could accomplish. It's big enough for touchtyping much faster than on an iPhone, although I believe I'll still be at least twice as fast on a real notebook keyboard, just because I can handle it blindfolded, whereas a virtual keyboard is much more dependent on eyesight. Just think about how Mobile Safari or Safari would work on a tablet: It would be wonderful.
Video chat could also be a big feature for such a device. It's not been talked about much, but it would certainly beat a similar experience on an iPhone with iChat AV.
If, right now, you simply think a 600-900 dollar tablet would not find a market, think again. Because people thought similar things about the iPod as well as the iPhone. I've been hearing over the past several months that a "larger iPhone OS device" would enter the market in September, along with new versions of the iPod line. And I believe Apple will enter the holiday season with a bang.