The benefit is that it syncs with your main computer and/or the cloud. A Macbook is only useful as a stand-alone computer.
This device could possibly use as a stand-alone computer, but (presumably) it's primary use is as a mobile extension of your main computer, or a mobile extension of, and means of accessing, your "cloud."
Absolutely agree here. You will want 2,3 or Steve's magic number, 5 of these devices. All synced from your main Mac, iTunes and/or MobilMe account. The reason for the big investment in Lala and in N.Carolina.
...A tablet can be used on the go. That is the allure. True mobility. A different use case, and one could argue one with more practical applications and use cases then a traditional notebook/laptop.
A tablet that docks to a base with a keyboard/mouse would makes far more sense then trying to force an iMac to be a lightweight semi-mobile computer.
Don't forget that Apple has a Patent on the idea of sliding a tablet-like device into a base station, or iMac-like dock.
They'd have to add a lot more features to the Touch for that to be true. SD card slots, USB ports, expandable RAM, replaceable hard drive, front facing webcam, physical keyboard, video out, swappable battery, a user accessible file system, etc....
I love my iPod(s), and I make my living on my Macs, but my HP mini netbook is by far the most versatile computing device I've ever owned.
I think Apple is pretty aware of this... and really doesn't want to compete at all in the netbook market. Versatility is not the key word in Apple's philosophy, ever. Tackling a core set of functions and uses, is: internet (web, mail, social), entertainment (music, video, & lately games), and personal creativity (iLife and possibly with this new device iWork). Core functions. Everything else they leave to the web and cloud-services, and/or developers.
...I think it's primary purpose will be as a media player. Much like the iPhone, it will set a new paradigm in how we entertain ourselves and to a great extent how we conduct/support our businesses on the move. For many, we will still need a 'full' computer. For most, 'full' is overkill.
IMO, virtually every app currently available can for the most part be prepared to run "fullscreen" rather easily, as evidenced by Apple's request to some developers to demo in 4 weeks; and knowing Apple, to provide an updated SDK to ensure that tens of thousands of apps will be ready for a 'March' launch.
...The GPS navigation apps definitely come to mind, a well as e'readers, web browsers, video games/players for example.
More important, a whole new 'pricing' paradigm will evolve, particularly i.e., to now charge which before were free. .
I'm also thinking, almost "free", as in subsidized... or around $500 without.
I think the fold-out dual screen idea is quite nice as long as there is an invisible seam down the middle and in another thread someone posted a link to a video of an old Apple mockup of the Knowledge Navigator:
If they had dual 10" (8" x 6" screens = 4:3 aspect), they would fold out to a 3:2 14" screen at 1280 x 853, which can do 720p. Plus you get two screens for running apps side by side.
If they can't do the invisible seam idea, I'd expect a 16:9 or 16:10 12" slate. Hopefully they'll offer a way to protect the screen though.
I will be disappointed to see the iphone OS running on it because the apps available for it just aren't anywhere near the level of functionality of desktop apps. It may encourage developers to make iphone apps more fully fledged but I doubt it.
If it's extremely cheap, it won't matter so much what it runs as long as it covers the basics - word processing etc can be done online using services like Google Docs and maybe Apple will make some cloud apps.
Along this thought of the Knowledge Nav., I've always liked this idea.
Actually, foldable screen tech has been around for quite awhile. It does beg to question though, how long it could hold up to constant opening and closing.
If not 2-sided, I think it will have a closing front cover of some sort for protection, but also allowing it to stand alone on a table or desk. The inside of the cover will have mounting clips or holes for mounting brackets, sold separately, to be installed as you say, in the kitchen, bathroom, car, etc. I do trust that Jonathon Ives has come up with something elegant, cool, unobtrusive, and useful at the same time.
The trickiest part of this device is it's price-point. It really needs to be positioned similar to the iPod, in that many people have 2 or more of them. Any room in your home where you might be, where you go, "oops, where's my phone" or "I forgot my Mac in the den", you will purchase one of these to be always there.
Don't dismiss in-house bonjour, chat, and screen-sharing either. All underutilized Apple-tech.
Re: screen-size and resolution debate: as far as I know, screen-res independence is built into SL, but just not turned on. I would assume Apple has been working on adding this core-functionality into the iPhone OS as well. Thus making the debate moot once it works.
This device will NOT be a netbook-killer, because it doesn't need to be to be successful. Because once again, Apple is thinking (completely!) different.