Is the iPad a tablet or just an oversized iPod Touch?

As usual, Apple made a big splash with last week's introduction of the iPad. On the eve of the introduction, I said we could be on the verge of a major breakthrough in healthcare.

Today, I'd like to tamp down my expectations a bit.

Like so many others, I had been expecting a Macintosh take on the tablet-style computer. From what I've seen so far about the iPad--which isn't even on sale yet--it looks like an oversized iPod Touch. Now there isn't necessarily anything wrong about that. The iPod Touch might be the best portable digital media player on the market right now. But I think it's wrong to call the iPad a tablet computer.

The top-of-the-line model will have 64 gigabytes of memory, similar to a high-end iPod. But unlike a true personal computer, the iPad lacks a hard drive and thus can't store hundreds of gigs of data. It's more for running small apps than full-fledged software. I know the iPhone and iPod Touch have millions of fans, many of whom use the pocket-sized devices for healthcare purposes. But the small screen limits functionality. The iPad has a larger display with the same brilliant resolution and touch-screen functionality as its older cousins. But because it's not a full-powered computer, it may not be the thing that kills the Windows tablet PC and the Amazon Kindle while also breaking down barriers to health IT adoption.

It might, however, make a fine terminal in a thin-client environment.

By the time this week's newsletter lands in your inbox, I will on my way to Washington to cover the mHealth Initiative's first-ever International mHealth Networking Conference tomorrow and Thursday. Check or subscribe to our RSS or Twitter feed for any breaking news. - Neil