An iPad Review Roundup
A handful of iPad reviews published online moments ago and they’re largely positive–with some expected caveats about its lack of a camera and support for Flash and multitasking. Consensus seems to be that Apple (AAPL) has a great shot at creating a new category of device with the iPad.
Interestingly, a number of reviews make special mention of its speed (Walt Mossberg describes it as “wicked fast”), a battery life that exceeds Apple’s claims (David Pogue says the battery on his review device lasted 12 hours on a single charge–two hours more than Apple promised), and Apple’s hopes for 1,000 specially designed iPad apps to be available by launch this Saturday.
Below, excerpts from eight of those early reviews.
I believe this beautiful new touch-screen device from Apple has the potential to change portable computing profoundly, and to challenge the primacy of the laptop. It could even help, eventually, to propel the finger-driven, multitouch user interface ahead of the mouse-driven interface that has prevailed for decades. But first, it will have to prove that it really can replace the laptop or netbook for enough common tasks, enough of the time, to make it a viable alternative.
The first iPad is a winner. It stacks up as a formidable electronic-reader rival for Amazon’s Kindle. It gives portable game machines from Nintendo and Sony a run for their money. At the very least, the iPad will likely drum up mass-market interest in tablet computing in ways that longtime tablet visionary and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates could only dream of.
No company can generate as much hype around a product launch as Apple. But that’s perfectly OK because no company is also nearly as successful at producing a new product that can justify almost any level of excitement that precedes it. They don’t do it with every product launch, but bloody hell: they’ve done it with the iPad….The most compelling sign that Apple got this right is the fact that despite the novelty of the iPad, the excitement slips away after about ten seconds and you’re completely focused on the task at hand…whether it’s reading a book, writing a report, or working on clearing your Inbox. Second most compelling: in situation after situation, I find that the iPad is the best computer in my household and office menagerie. It’s not a replacement for my notebook, mind you. It feels more as if the iPad is filling a gap that’s existed for quite some time.
The techies are right about another thing: the iPad is not a laptop. It’s not nearly as good for creating stuff. On the other hand, it’s infinitely more convenient for consuming it–books, music, video, photos, Web, e-mail and so on. For most people, manipulating these digital materials directly by touching them is a completely new experience–and a deeply satisfying one. The bottom line is that the iPad has been designed and built by a bunch of perfectionists. If you like the concept, you’ll love the machine. The only question is: Do you like the concept?
Is the iPad a perfect product? No. And the omissions will give the anti-Apple crowd plenty of ammo. Why do I need this extra device that’s not a full-fledged laptop? Where’s the camera? What about Flash? Um, how about multitasking? These are all valid complaints, but one thing I can say about most Apple products, and certainly the iPad: There may be things it doesn’t do, but what it does do, it does remarkably well. Aside from the aforementioned limitations, there isn’t a lot else to gripe about. And to my great surprise, you can actually get real work done with the iPad.
Manic, nonstop use revealed a number of things: battery life is better than I anticipated. I got a full day of constant internet-connected use (it barely left my hands) on one charge. It fits well in my lap when eating, and it’s easy to wipe off stray noodles and arugula leaves and get right back to Twittering….I like it a lot. But it’s the things I never knew it made possible–to be revealed or not in the coming months–that will determine whether I love it.
It turns out the iPad isn’t as much a laptop replacement as I thought (though it could easily be used as one). Instead, it’s an entirely new category of mobile device. For example, now when I want to surf the Web from the couch or back deck, the iPad is the device I choose. Starbucks? Same thing. Think of the iPad as a new arrow in your technology quiver, an arrow that will often be the best tool for a given task. I had high expectations for the iPad, and it has met or exceeded most of them.
Apple’s engineers know something those other companies don’t: form has trumped function. You can load up a tablet with horsepower and extra features till it can do your taxes and lick the stamp, but if it’s not instantly obvious how to use those features without a manual–and if you don’t look good using them–nobody cares. The iPad isn’t wildly feature-rich. It doesn’t run Flash, and the only browser it runs is Safari. Like the iPhone, it can’t multitask, and it doesn’t appear to have a serious file-handling system. I’ve tried its much ballyhooed full-size virtual keyboard, and it feels like typing with frostbite. It doesn’t even have a damn camera. But you will care about it, because whoever designed its graceful lines and intuitive interface cared about you.