Early Reviews Indicate IPad not Miracle Device (Yet)

In Entertainment, Technology on April 1, 2010 at 10:12 am

Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal and David Pogue of The New York Times are out with their reviews of the IPad and the news is mixed.

Pogue, in the Times, starts off by saying that in his 20 years of reviewing tech products, he’s never seen a device as polarizing as the IPad. The techies, he says, generally seem to hate the thing while regular people are eagerly awaiting its arrival.

So, what does he do? Writes two reviews, which strikes me as perhaps unnecessarily  cutesy.

Of particular interest to this blog is his assessment of the device as a reader.

“It’s not going to rescue the newspaper and book industries (sorry, media pundits),” he writes. “The selection is puny (60,000 titles for now). You can’t read well in direct sunlight. At 1.5 pounds, the iPad gets heavy in your hand after awhile (the Kindle is 10 ounces). And you can’t read books from the Apple bookstore on any other machine — not even a Mac or iPhone.”

The bottom line for the techie, he says is that it’s unlikely they’re going to want to carry around a machine that may be good but is missing so much (keyboard, USB, camera and so forth).

For everyone else, he’s a bit more forgiving.

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For instance, on the reader app that he kind of panned for the techie, he’s a bit more generous.

“The new iBooks e-reader app is filled with endearing grace notes,” he writes, pointing to animation that makes it seem like you’re actually turning a page, ability to define words, bookmark, look things up on Wikipedia or Google.

“There’s even a rotation-lock switch on the edge of the iPad so you can read in bed on your side without fear that the image will rotate,” he says.

Then he gets into a praise-filled section about all the apps and concludes that the device is better for consuming content than creating content and it’s not a laptop replacement.

Mossberg, on the other hand, seems more smitten.

The headline alone — Laptop Killer? Pretty Close — gives you a sense that he sees the machine differently, maybe not able to replace the laptop but clearly on the road to that, maybe a generation or two away.

“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,” he writes. “It could even help, eventually, to propel the finger-driven, multitouch user interface ahead of the mouse-driven interface that has prevailed for decades.”

And while he seems to like IBooks more than Pogue did, he did also have some issues with it including the smaller catalog for now and the fact there’s no way to take notes like you can with the Kindle.

He was also full of praise for the apps and talked about the IPad version of Pages, Apple’s word processing software.

“This is a serious content creation app that should help the iPad compete with laptops and can import Microsoft Office files. However, only the word processor exports to Microsoft’s formats, and not always accurately. In one case, the exported Word file had misaligned text. When I then tried exporting the document as a PDF file, it was unreadable.”

PC Magazine, in their review, says it’s not perfect, but lives up to the hype.

So, not perfect, not able to walk on water but quite possibly a major step down the road to changing personal computing.

Meanwhile, Fast Company has a piece about the device’s potential for helping the books market grow. It has a lot of stuff that’s been covered elsewhere, including here, but it’s still a good read.

Less than two days and the hype keeps building.

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  2. Seriously? Your article is an in depth review of two other reviews and two blurbs?! No analysis … just a summary of what other tech journalists said? Stellar work sir, just stellar.

    Writing a story that “covers” the iPad may generate traffic in the short run. Failing to provide any new or meaningful content, however, just lost me as a long term reader.

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  4. Colin — I agree with you that Pogue sometimes has a case of the cutes. But my reading of the initial reviews from the Big 4 computing columnists (Pogue, Mossberg, Baig and Ihnatko) is that they tilt considerably more toward “positive” than “mixed.” None of these guys is in Apple’s pocket, and neither am I, for what it’s worth. But I think a fair reading of these influential writers — for that matter, a fair reading of your own post — indicates that Apple’s having a better day in the press than you suggest.

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