Is the Apple iPad going to replace your laptop?
It depends on who you are and how you use your laptop-that's the nutshell verdict from The New York Times' David Pogue and the Wall Street Journal's Walter S. Mossberg, whose separate reviews of the iPad went live March 31.
"I believe this beautiful new touch-screen device from Apple has the potential to change portable computing profoundly and challenge the primacy of the laptop," Mossberg wrote.
"But first," he continued, "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."
Pogue, usually the less persnickety of the two, offered compliments where they were due but was far from as effusive as the clearly more smitten Mossberg. Pogue, hearing vastly different early sentiments coming in from two camps-techies and regular consumers-split his review, addressing each group separately.
Still, to neither group was he as upbeat or positive as he's been in reviews of the Palm Pre, say, or the Motorola Droid.
The iPad's screen is big and glossy but "every fingerprint is grossly apparent," Pogue wrote. There's an ebook reader, but the book selection is "puny," you can't read the screen well in direct sunlight, the 1.5-pound iPad quickly becomes a whole lot heavier than the 10-ounce Kindle, and the iPad is not going to save the newspaper or book industries. "And," Pogue added, "you can't read books from the Apple bookstore on any other machine-not even a Mac or iPhone."
Mossberg, however, found the half-inch-thick iPad a refreshing change from carrying around a laptop; found-as Pogue did-the iPad's battery to outlast Apple's promise by more than an hour; and, as an e-reader, thought the iPad is "better in my view than the Amazon Kindle."
However, Mossberg, too, agreed that the iPad is notably heavier than the Kindle and requires two hands for reading.
Where Mossberg found typing on the on-screen keyboard, in a horizontal position, to be "more comfortable and accurate to use than the cramped keyboards and touchpad's on many netbooks," and thought the iPad case, sold separately for $39, to "bend to set up a nice angle for typing," Pogue found it "just barely usable."
When used vertically, the iPad's on-screen keyboard offered, Pogue wrote, a "horrible experience."
Both reviewers found Apple's custom processor to be very fast, and seemed impressed with AT&T's 3G offering, though the model with both 3G and WiFi is not yet available-both men tested WiFi-only iPads. The AT&T service fee will be $15 for 250 megabytes or $30 for unlimited cellular Internet service. Plus, the fee applies to one month-there's no annual contract.
"The other carriers are probably cursing AT&T's name for setting this precedent," Pogue wrote.
Both Pogue and Mossberg made note of the fact that because Apple turns up its nose at Adobe Flash, there are Websites with white boxes where video or animation should be. Bummer.
"There's no multitasking, either. ... Plus no USB jacks and no camera," Pogue added. "Bye-bye, Skype video chats. You know Apple is just leaving stuff out for next year's model."
But then there are the apps, an area where Apple has long excelled.
Apple has rebuilt key iPhone apps for the iPad, adding more sophisticated features, such as a "popover" menu that lets a user see his choices without leaving the screen he's on.
There are also specially designed iPad apps, of which Apple says it will have 1,000 as of the iPad's April 3 launch. These apps, Pogue wrote, are "where the real fun begins." He found the Marvel comic-book app "brilliant in its vividness" and enjoyed the real-newspaper look and layout in the iPad newspaper apps.
Apple also offers a $30 suite that includes a spreadsheet, presentation program and word processing application. Mossberg generally enjoyed these, explaining that they can import Microsoft Office files-though not always accurately or with their formatting intact.
Quibbles, frustrations and all, Pogue concluded, "The iPad is so fast and light, the multitouch screen so bright and responsive, the software so easy to navigate, that it really does qualify as a new category of gadget." And Mossberg agreed.
"Because the iPad is a new type of computer," Mossberg wrote, "you have to feel it, use it, to fully understand it and decide if it is for you, or whether, say, a netbook might do better."
Apple iPad Verdict from Times, Journal: Not for Everyone
The Apple iPad spent some time in the hands of tech reviewers at The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. While not equal in their excitement or praise of the tablet, they agreed it was a great device - for some people.
Is the Apple iPad going to replace your laptop?