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Nathan's column: Waiting with bated breath

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opinion Farmington, 55024
Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

By the time you read this column, nerds all around the world should know exactly what features the latest version of Apple's incredibly popular iPad tablet will have to offer.

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Actually, depending on how diligent you are about getting to your newspaper, we might be well on our way to guessing what the iPad 4 will bring to the table.

Guessing the features of a new gadgets is a big deal. It's like the tech-world version of fantasy football, only you don't have to sit around in someone's living room to hold a draft, and you don't have to pay attention for 16 weeks and worry about whether your favorite prognosticator (which is just a fancy word for "feature guesser") has been either injured or suspended for injecting bull cartilage into his knees. And even if you guess all the features right the only thing you win is the admiration of a bunch of nerds. Even then, they'll all forget about you if you go out on a limb next year and predict that the iPad 4 will feature a fold-out knife blade and an espresso maker.

It actually might be less like fantasy football than I originally thought.

Still, there has been a lot of Internet space dedicated to figuring out what the new iPad announced this week would look like. Depending on where you look you might discover that Apple's newest oversized iPod will definitely have a high-definition camera. Or that it definitely won't. That it will have a higher-resolution screen, or faster Internet browsing or that it will come with a built-in massage function.

Some sources have suggested the iPad 3 won't be the iPad 3 at all. It will be called the iPad HD, they suggest. People were worried that Apple would have trouble innovating after Steve Jobs' death, but if a switch from numbers to letters doesn't qualify as visionary, I'm not sure what does.

In the end, of course, the new iPad will mostly just be a slightly better version of the old iPad. It will probably be faster. It might be prettier. It almost certainly won't analyze the mineral composition of rocks like a Star Trek tricorder. Which is really the only feature I'm waiting for.

Once you've got a tablet, there's only so much you can do with it. I suspect we're at least two years away from full-fledged teleportation functions.

Of course, all these improvements probably sounded different when they were announced at Apple's press conference Wednesday, after this issue went to print.

"It's faster!" they will have said. "It's prettier!" they'll have exclaimed. "It won't make you look like a Star Trek nerd!" they will have added, somewhat unnecessarily if you ask me.

It will all be quite exciting to the people who have waited impatiently ever since the last slightly faster, slightly prettier thing was introduced. They'll ooh and ahh. Some will rush to order it. And they'll all be thrilled to have something new and shiny to play with.

Then, about six weeks later, they'll start trying to figure out what next year's version will offer.

Don't tell anybody I said it, but I have a reliable source who swears there will be an espresso maker.

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