What the Web Is Saying About the Apple iPad

Although the iPad’s true potential will come from the media and software applications that will inevitably be created for it, first impressions of the device itself are just as important. Consumers want to know how easy is to use the iPad’s finger-friendly interface for browsing, navigating and data entry. What scenarios might be better suited for the iPad vs. a netbook?

These questions are often answered first by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and USA Today, but Apple provided early iPads to more outlets. Perhaps that fact alone says more to the widespread device appeal than any review could tell you. With more reviews available prior to the iPad launch, you have more information to decide if the iPad fits in your lifestyle, so we’re sharing key excerpts to help guide you down the path.

BoingBoing identifies a synergy that belie the specifications alone:

“The display is large enough to make the experience of apps and games on smaller screens stale. Typography is crisp, images gem-like, and the speed brisk thanks to Apple’s A4 chip and solid state storage. As I browse early release iPad apps, web pages, and flip through the iBook store and books, the thought hits that this is a greater leap into a new user experience than the sum of its parts suggests.”

Addressing a key concern shared by many, PCMag.com tackles the data entry question:

“As someone who’s all thumbs when it comes to iPhone’s tiny on-screen keyboard, I wondered if the iPad’s larger keyboard would help me master this touch screen typing thing. In a word: Yes. I’m writing this review on the iPad’s horizontal keyboard, in which the keys are large and nicely spaced. (The vertical keyboard is a little tighter, but still definitely useable.) If it weren’t comfortable, I would have abandoned the iPad for my laptop 1,000 words ago.”

David Pogue of the New York Times says this to techies:

“The bottom line 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?”

Pogue also reviews the iPad for the non-tech crowd:

“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. Some have suggested that it might make a good goof-proof computer for technophobes, the aged and the young; they’re absolutely right.”

The Houston Chronicle’s Bob “Dr. Mac” LeVitus concludes:

“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.”

And finally, Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun-Times tackles the iPad vs. netbook question:

“It’s bad news for the netbook when you judge the iPad on its own terms. Or anybody else’s, come to think of it. The design of a netbook is about nonstop, relentless, and soul-shredding compromises. A netbook’s engineers have only one real goal: make a PC that’s really small, and make it cheap enough to produce that it won’t cost more than $350 or better yet, $250.”

Steven Fry’s review at Time is unique, and underscores much of what he said in January. At the iPad launch, he saw the form begets function potential:

“There are many issues you could have with the iPad. No multitasking, still no Flash. No camera, no GPS. They all fall away the minute you use it. I cannot emphasise enough this point: Hold your judgment until you’ve spent five minutes with it.”

After viewing reader comments from all the reviews, I’m convinced of three things. Those that were planning to buy an iPad are still doing so, while many of those that were on the fence are now more interested in the device. I have yet to see any comments with regrets of pre-order or future purchase plans, so prepare yourself: the Age of iPad is upon us.