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Apple’s products have been poster children for elegant design for many years. The iPad has several things an ebook reader, web surfer, and video appliance need, but some glaring omissions crash it.

Its 1024 X 768 screen isn’t natively compatible with 720p HD at 1280 X 720. For a device that’s touted as a deluxe video/movie/TV program player, that’s a huge oversight. Yes, you can play H.264 video encoded at 720p, but it won’t be full 720p resolution on Apple’s screen.

The lack of Flash support is also pretty bizarre for a web-surfing device like iPad.

There’s no word on compatibility with Kindle books or book files from Barnes & Noble, but I’m betting the iPad will only support downloads from the iBook store. However, I’m sure there’ll be a hack for Amazon and Barnes & Noble book files before too long.

There’s only indirect mention of networking compatibility with OS X and Windows computers, but this is a must for any machine with limited mass storage like the iPad.

Still, the UI looks very good – flipping pages with your fingers like a real book is cool. I guess haptic feedback on the touch screen was too expensive, and I agree an SD card port and user-replaceable battery would have been nice.

With handwriting recognition and audio recording, the iPad would become a must for any college student taking notes. I’m surprised a company like Apple with a historic presence in the education market didn’t see this and add those features.

As a lightweight laptop replacement for a photographer in the field, it may be a winner. If the software supports it, you could use an external card reader to upload image files to the iPad for later transfer to your PC. If there were a version of Lightroom for it, you could sort and edit pictures on it too.

You’ll at least be able to transfer pictures directly from your camera with Apple’s add-on camera kit.

It looks like this product announcement was an attempt to preemptively capture the market, though that’ll be tough for a device that won’t be available for 8 weeks.