Apple iPad reviews: the critics weigh in

The overall reaction to Apple's tablet has been, in a word, underwhelming.

Now that the mania of Apple's iPad (such a bad name) announcement has begun to calm and people are checking bank accounts instead of RSS feeds for more information, big-name critics are pulling out their swords and taking swings at Apple's latest creation. The overall reaction has been, in a word, underwhelming. What was hotly anticipated has mostly turned into cold soup. So what happened and what is being said?

There is, without a doubt, much disappointment surrounding the iPad. Bloggers curb-stomped it for its shortcomings:

  • No multitasking
  • No Adobe Flash (yet)
  • No camera or iChat capabilities
  • No HDMI port
  • 4:3 aspect ratio
  • Still dependent on AT&T's 3G service
  • Dependence on adapters

... and the list goes on.

What I found interesting is that the "big-name" critics took a more compassionate view of the iPad. David Pogue from the New York Times outlined three phases of "the standard Apple new-category roll-out," starting with feverish speculation and hype, then hands-off negativity, then release-date positivity. Pogue urged caution from the knee-jerk types: "it's too early to draw any conclusions." Furthermore, he writes, "as we enter Phase 2, remember how silly you all looked when you all predicted the iPhone's demise in that period before it went on sale."

Om Malik had a positive take on the iPad over at Gigaom. He loved the single button, landscape and portrait modes, Web browsing experience, Maps, and the ability to "plow through" e-mails. Still, a hint of wariness came at the end of Malik's brief first impression when he said, "If I didn't own a Kindle or an iPod touch, the decision to buy an iPad would be an easy one. But I own both, and even if I only owned one of them, it would be a tough decision."

Who better to weigh in on the iPad than Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak? In this video, Wozniak commented on the possible future of the iPad but lamented its productivity capabilities -- specifically its inability to edit movies or fiddle with music.

Tech guru Walter Mossberg approached his first impressions of the iPad evenly without making overly harsh judgments. The keyboard and the tablet's size, in his opinion, may be the iPad's biggest downfall. "Finally, while it's too early for me to say without lots of testing, the size of the iPad's virtual keyboard may be a liability. I found it almost too wide for thumb typing, and a colleague who's a whiz at touch typing and tried it briefly found it awkward to type on. Apple is offering an auxiliary physical keyboard that docks with, and charges, the iPad. But you won't want to lug that around."

You might be wondering where TechCrunch's Michael Arrington fits into this hoopla. As of this writing, Arrington hadn't given his two cents (or two thousand dollars) to the iPad, though he's likely writing his tome now. I'm more interested than usual about Arrington's take given that his own tablet, the CrunchPad, went down in flames.

Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times ran down the laundry list of oft-repeated iPad shortcomings, but hinted at its hopeful possibilities. "... depending on how it's exploited, eventually it could be much more."

The round-up of other influential tech blogs brought the same lukewarm response I believe we should expect from what looks to be a wishy-washy on-the-fence device. Gizmodo, quite simply, hated it. In a very long, multi-person take, Engadget was kinda "meh." ZDNet, like many, urged caution. And the editors here at PC World teetered toward the negative in multiple editorial takes.

So that's the general take on Apple's latest product. What's even more appealing to me is getting the audience's reaction. So what do you think about the iPad?

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Brennon Slattery

PC World (US online)
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