My how things can change in a couple of months. We’d been hearing, waiting, anticipating, speculating for a long time before Steve Jobs announced in late January the arrival of the Apple iPad, with a fun show and tell in his usual style ... only to see the excitement quickly dwindle.
PCWorld summed up the early impressions from the critics back on January 28 like a swift kick to Apple’s crotch: “The overall reaction has been, in a word, underwhelming. What was hotly anticipated has mostly turned into cold soup.” Most critics’ early impressions focused on the product’s shortcomings, or they couldn’t wrap their heads around thinking the iPad was nothing more than a ‘roided-up iPhone.
Two months later the product is picking up steam again upon its impending arrival, and it looks like the swift kicking has turned into behind-kissing. And with app announcements from companies like Netflix coming fast and furious, the iPad seems to be getting better by the minute. But we’ll let the critics speak for themselves, so here’s what a few have to say so far about the former “cold soup”:
From Walt Mossberg, Wall Street Journal: “If people see the iPad mainly as an extra device to carry around, it will likely have limited appeal. If, however, they see it as a way to replace heavier, bulkier computers much of the time—for Web surfing, email, social-networking, video- and photo-viewing, gaming, music and even some light content creation—it could be a game changer the way Apple’s iPhone has been.”
From David Pogue, New York Times: “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. And the techies are right about another thing: the iPad is not a laptop. It’s not nearly as good for creating stuff. 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.”
From Stephen Fry, Time: “It is possible that the public will not fall on the iPad, as I did, like lions on an antelope. Perhaps they will find the apps and the iBooks too expensive. Maybe they will wait for more fully featured later models. But for me, my 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.”
From Edward Baig, USA Today: “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.”
From Tim Gideon, PC Mag: “Content from the iTunes Store looks predictably awesome on the iPad’s big, bright display. It’s no substitute for a big-screen HDTV, but on a cross-country flight, I can’t imagine a better way to watch a movie. The iPad looks like a mini movie screen when it is a couple feet away and the built-in speaker is loud enough to entertain the kids on a car ride. ... I’m curious to see who actually buys the iPad, apart from Apple enthusiasts. But I can tell you that when my laptop eventually dies, I’ll be getting one.”
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.