Home > iPad > The (Big) Reviews Are In

The (Big) Reviews Are In

April 1st, 2010

Ihnatko, Mossberg, and Pogue, among others, have their advance reviews of the iPad out. The general consensus: Apple has a winner. Mossberg, Ihnatko, and a few others just love it. Pogue was the least enthusiastic, dividing his review into two: one for techies (in which he semi-panned it), and one for “everyone else” (in which he gave it a middling-to-good review).

Mossberg, however, was impressed:

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.

Edward Baig at USA Today was even more positive:

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. …

Apple has pretty much nailed it with this first iPad, though there’s certainly room for improvement. Nearly three years after making a splash with the iPhone, Apple has delivered another impressive product that largely lives up to the hype.

Andy Ihnatko, however, was nuts about it:

iPad is pure innovation – one of best computers ever

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.

Ihnatko makes a good point concerning those who see the iPad as lacking because it doesn’t match netbook specs point for point:

… I’m here to tell you that in fact, we haven’t seen tablets before. And maybe the iPad is the only true tablet we’ll get in 2010. The hardware we’ve seen in years past, (and what we’re likely to see in these Android devices) are laptop computers with the keyboard section broken off. They’re not fundamentally touch-based computers, they’re the products of old thinking. When Apple looks at a fingertip, they see a warm, living thing that can feel. They don’t see a poor substitute for a mouse.

That’s the problem facing all of these other tablets. They’ve never stopped and looked at this device as a brand-new thing, and thrown out all of the design elements that they’ve only included out of force of habit. These other tablets have a feature list a mile long… That’s easy. The challenge they all seem to be avoiding is to restrict the device to features that are truly relevant to tablet computing. Otherwise, these added hardware and software features only create greater instability and user confusion, and turn this tablet into something that you’d never, ever use if you had any alternative.

If you doubt the truth of that, then ask why tablets produced up until now–and there have been many, over quite a few years–have never sold worth a damn.

One surprise: Apple, like most electronic makers, was inaccurate about the battery lifetime. Unlike most makers–including Apple itself most times–their claim for battery life was lower then the tests showed. Apple advertises 10 hours of video playback, but the reviewers got about 12 hours–with WiFi and email going on in the background.

From Pogue’s review and what I have heard others saying, I would make a general prediction: if you (a) know what level-2 cache is, (b) have ever installed a hard disk drive on your own, or (c) balanced your finances last month and decided you had to give up something you really didn’t want to, then the chance you’ll like or buy an iPad is going to be somewhat lower. Just a rule of thumb, not an absolute–I’ve done two of the three and I’m absolutely going to buy one–but people who like to control their tech and/or are really pinching pennies will be more likely to pass on the iPad, especially at first. Except developers, of course.

Me, I’m still waiting to hear whether or not the iPad can directly, wirelessly connect to your desktop or laptop and read from or write to their disks without having to sync through iTunes or physically connect. That will make a huge difference for me. Technically, there should be no reason whatsoever for the iPad to lack this feature, but it’s exactly the kind of thing Apple would intentionally leave out (probably because adding it in would weaken the necessity of buying a model with more internal memory). We just got an OS update (10.6.3) a few days ago–coincidence, or was it timed to allow for iPad interaction?

Anyone who finds out about that networking detail, please let me know–it’ll be a factor in my own purchase.

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  1. April 1st, 2010 at 14:19 | #1

    The reviews were pretty good. I guess Apple really has a winner. Not very convinced that I should get one though. Its just like a bigger, more powerful iphone.

  2. Troy
    April 1st, 2010 at 15:16 | #2

    @online kids games

    “Its just like a bigger, more powerful iphone.”

    Sometimes quantitative differences are also qualitative.

    iPhone is OK for one-handed use but is too small as a primary portable media player.

    iPad is the perfect size for taking on the train or watching movies on an exercise bike.

    Other than that it doesn’t really have better use cases than a Macbook, I readily admit.

    My iPad is in Shenzen still. I’m looking forward to trying it out in the gym, but if I weren’t a developer I don’t think I would have gotten it, not until I move back to Japan where I could use it on the trains a lot.

    As I’ve joked here before, with an iPad I could live out in Kashiwa, or Kurihama!

  3. Troy
    April 1st, 2010 at 15:39 | #3

    Anyone who finds out about that networking detail, please let me know–it’ll be a factor in my own purchase.

    From the developer docs it seems the app-level file sharing feature has to go thru iTunes.

  4. Leszek Cyfer
    April 1st, 2010 at 20:17 | #4

    I would not count on putting anything on it without iTunes.

    Perhaps later with some applications you’ll be able to store some pdf or other files, but I basically expect the same file storage experience as in iPhone.

  5. Luis
    April 1st, 2010 at 20:43 | #5

    Argh. That’s disappointing, really. I see no technical reason why it should be that way–except, as I mentioned, Apple just wants to force you to buy the more expensive unit with more memory. Maybe the same reason they (probably) will not let you use the USB or SD Card adaptors for memory either, or why they did not build in an SD slot directly–they can make more money this way. I don’t mind the up-front ticket price for Apple gear, it’s the indirect, slick-scam-style nickel-and-diming crap I hate, like when Apple started filling all the RAM slots in their machines with smaller chips instead of filling just one slot with a larger chip–just so that people would buy their RAM upgrades from Apple instead of from 3rd-party dealers.

    Transferring via iTunes will be a hassle, aggravating because it’s an unnecessary one.

    I have to say, if someone came up with a hack for direct network access, I’d jailbreak the iPad in a second to get it.

  6. Troy
    April 2nd, 2010 at 03:13 | #6

    @Leszek Cyfer

    actually, it is possible to individually manage applications’ Documents directly, via iTunes.

    You can drag & drop files on & off the iPad, within iTunes. Each iPad app has its own private Documents folder basically.

  7. Tim Kane
    April 2nd, 2010 at 20:46 | #7

    Incidentally, how did this round of good reviews affect the price of Apple stock? Just curious.

    How this unfolds is quite interesting.

    Will the use of the Ipad be an evolution or a completely new device? Is it going to be a new nitch or replacement for the old nitch or both and what will happen to the constellation of corporations surrounding all that?

    And I’m not just talking Microsoft. For instance, Apple makes the chip. What happens to Intel from all of this? Does Google scale up it’s operating system efforts for a competing product?

    My past reading of business literature tried to teach me that market share is darn near everything, and the first into a new segment has the best chance of hogging the most market share (doesn’t always happen that way, in the late 1980s ‘wine coolers’ exploded on to the alcoholic beverage scene and the company that came to dominate that market, Gallo, was a late arrive – sometimes a heavy – and usually costly – barrage or finer quality product can swoop in and take over).

    If this is THE new computer segment, things will get interesting.

    When I lived in Chicago for a couple of years, there was kind of a consensus that Block Buster had worked out some kind of formula that let it know when a neighborhood would be gentrified. Developers like to jump into a neighborhood that Blockbuster dropped a new store in (kind of a self fulfilling prophecy of sorts I suppose). The discussion and speculation was always on what formula that might be using.

    In a similar vein, it would be interesting to know just what Apple’s methodology is and what they think about the impact of this device is going to have future. The fact that they make their own chip has me wondering… where they think this is going to go. If it takes off, they aren’t going to be beholden to Intel.

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