The Apple iPad has arrived in the hands of reviewers. With three days to go before the US launch, reviews have appeared from a carefully selected band of US journalists who've been using the iPad for about a week. The verdict? Unsurprisingly, the crack corps of Apple-selected newspaper reporters give the multimedia tablet a resounding thumbs-up.
The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg reckons the iPad is more than a giant iPhone or ebook reader, but its success will depend on what people want to use it for. He does say the iPad is "better in my view than the Amazon Kindle", and the onscreen keyboard is "more comfortable and accurate to use than the cramped keyboards and touchpads on many netbooks".
Omar Wasow reckons Apple has "pulled off a remarkable balancing act in that it has designed the iPad in such a way that it can simultaneously appeal to both newbies and nerds" at The Root. David Pogue of the New York Times also highlights the divide in possible users with two reviews, one for gadget fans and one for normal people.
Pogue is less impressed with the ebook function, noting the iPad is heavier than the Kindle, and "you can't read well in direct sunlight". He also describes typing as "a horrible experience".
USA Today's Edward C Baig reckons Apple has "pretty much nailed it" and calls the iPad "a winner". He suggests it "gives portable game machines from Nintendo and Sony a run for their money" and also has a pop at Microsoft. He notes some deficiencies -- Flash, that keyboard -- and that despite having a microphone, the iPad doesn't have a voice-recorder app, which comes as standard on the iPhone.
After a week of testing, Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun-Times is dazzled, left "wondering if any other company is as committed to invention as Apple". He reckons the iPad "is the only true tablet... The hardware we've seen in years past are laptop computers with the keyboard section broken off".
Bob LeVitus of the Houston Chronicle didn't have high hopes for the iPad, judging by how it exceeded his expectations in just about every area. His biggest problem is how to get it back off his wife.
The most in-depth review comes from Tim Gideon at PC Mag, complete with video walkthroughs. He notes the many omissions, but decides that "when my laptop eventually dies, I'll be getting one".
All agree the iPad is excellent for consuming content rather than creating it, whether it's video or writing. Most reviewers single out the iPad's lightning speed, and praise battery life as a pleasant surprise.
Many also commend the app experience, including Xeni Jardin of BoingBoing who believes "the things I never knew it made possible -- to be revealed or not in the coming months -- will determine whether I love it." appadvice.com is currently showing off a walkthrough of the iPad App Store, with a Netflix app generating lots of interest across the pond.
National treasure Stephen Fry also has an iPad in his possession, as evidenced by his breathless unboxing. He met Apple CEO Steve Jobs for Time, and reckons his iPad is like "a gun lobbyist's rifle: the only way you will take it from me is to prise it from my cold, dead hands".
We imagine he'd be tickled by our exclusive revelation that the iPad was conceived as a bit of a laugh. Meanwhile, Wired seems to have a mix-up with its review sample, which is a bit more old-school than you'd expect. Finally, the iPad stars in US comedy Modern Family this week with possibly the crassest product placement it's ever been our misfortune to witness.
There's an iPad heading for CNET Towers any day, so keep it Crave to see if we're as bowled over as the first wave of Yanks. iPad iPad iPad. Isn't it funny how when you say a word too often it just loses all meaning?