Apple iPad Declared a Winner by Top Critics

March 31, 2010 by Thad McIlroy

It won’t be available until Saturday, but of course Apple let the tech industry’s three most influential reviewers get their hands on units as long as a week ago. The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg, David Pogue of the New York Times, and Ed Baig of USA Today each today published their first reviews of final shipping units of the base model of Apple’s iPad.

Mossberg is the most enthusiastic, stating “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 did you like it?

Edward C. Baig of USA TODAYcomes in as a close second most enthusiastic. While he admits he was underwhelmed at the product’s intro last January, he’s now born again. “The first iPad is a winner,” Begg writes. “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.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                         Photo © Apple Computer

David Pogue is the brightest and wittiest of the bunch and recognises that techies may look at the iPad completely differently than the group he categorizes as “everyone else.” (Pogue offers a “simple test” to determine if you’re a technie? “Do you use BitTorrent? Do you run Linux? Do you have more e-mail addresses than pants? You’re a techie.”)

The “bottom line” for techies, Pogue concludes “is that you can get a laptop for much less money — with a full keyboard, DVD drive, U.S.B. jacks, camera-card slot, camera, the works. Besides: If you’ve already got a laptop and a smartphone, who’s going to carry around a third machine?”

It’s “everyone else” who will fall in love with the iPad. But he makes what is the most salienet point of any of the reviewers when thinking about the iPad and “everyone else.” Pogue sees that the iPad excels at consuming media much more than for creating much more than email. “It’s not nearly as good for creating stuff,” he observes. “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.”

Each reviewer notes Apple’s continuing refusal to allow Adobe’s Flash technology on the iPad (as it also refuses to allow Flash on the iPhone). The result for now is that majority of the most popular web sites will not display video. On the plus side, each reviewer notes the long battery life of the iPad: both Mossberg and Pogue do their own tests and find they get 12 hours plus, against Apple’s claim of a mere 10 hours. Baig complains that by comparison the Kindle can last up to two weeks. I’d be perfectly content with 12 hours. Each prefers the iPad to the Kindle for reading eBooks, although again Baig offers the weakest endorsement.

From each reviewer one senses that the features missing from this first version are missing mainly to allow Apple the opportunity to release in a timely fashion new models that will force enthusiasts to junk their first purchase (Pogue states as much). Amazon has been successful in obsoleting Kindles as has Apple with its wide range of handheld offerings. Of course this will be the business model for the iPad.

The last word for now from the conclusion to David Pogue’s review:

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?

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