Favorable reviews for the iPad

Apple's iPad tablet, which goes on sale Saturday, gets a nice round of applause from critics.

By Kim Peterson Apr 1, 2010 9:41AM
Credit: (© Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)Apple (AAPL) won't sell the iPad until Saturday, but the early reviews are already in, and they are mostly positive. And they could have a big influence on sales for the tablet device.

Arguably the most influential tech reviewer out there is Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal. Mossberg is already a big fan of Apple's -- to the point where the company quotes him often during presentations and sales pitches.

So maybe it's no surprise that he loves the iPad. "After spending hours and hours with it, 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," he writes.

But Mossberg admits there are drawbacks. The iPad doesn't have a physical keyboard, a Webcam, USB ports and it cannot multitask, he writes.

And he zeroes in on the obvious question: Is the iPad just one more thing we're going to have to lug around, or is it good enough to replace a laptop? It could be a game changer for some of the things we do, he writes, including Web surfing, e-mail, music, games and viewing photos and video.

And -- in a big win for Apple over Amazon (AMZN) -- Mossberg says the iPad is better than the Kindle for reading e-books.

"I found the iPad a pleasure to use, and had less and less interest in cracking open my heavier ThinkPad or MacBook," Mossberg writes. "I probably used the laptops about 20% as often as normal."

The iPad runs from $499 to $829, depending on how much memory and connective ability you want. Every iPad can get online with Wi-Fi, but for an anywhere, anytime connection you need to pay AT&T (T) $15 or $30 a month for data usage.

David Pogue at the New York Times says he's never seen a product as polarizing as the iPad. Some techies mock it relentlessly, while others call it a magical revolution.

In his review, Pogue says the iPad is pretty much a gigantic iPod Touch. Everything is bigger. He loves the iBooks e-reader application -- again, a worry for Amazon.

He also likes the applications that work well on the iPad, including Scrabble (and a companion, called Tile Rack), newspaper apps and the Marvel comic-book reader. The iPad played 12 hours of movies continuously on one charge -- four times as long as a typical laptop, Pogue writes.

"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," he writes.

Over at USA Today, Edward Baig calls the iPad "a winner" and a formidable rival for Amazon's Kindle. Nobody has been able to really crack the tablet market, he adds, but the iPad will drum up interest in ways that other companies, like Microsoft (MSFT), could only dream of. (Microsoft is the publisher of MSN Money.)

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

Two other reviews, in the Chicago Sun-Times and PC Magazine, also to heap on the praise.

I wonder, in addition to helping iPad sales, how much these reviews will hurt the success of Amazon's Kindle. Many reviewers say there is simply no contest, and if consumers start to feel the same way, then Amazon needs to take its signature product back to the drawing board.

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