iPad: Love It or Loathe It?

Apple's shiny new toy finally hit stores today—and nearly sold out just as quickly. But is Apple’s leap into the future worth it? From praise to pans, read our roundup of reviews.

Diane Bondareff / AP Photo

Apple's shiny new toy finally hit stores Saturday—and nearly sold out just as quickly. But is Apple’s leap into the future worth it? From praise to pans, read our roundup of reviews.

The hotly anticipated Apple iPad was finally unveiled in stores today and thousands of fans are eagerly testing out the tablet’s new features, including a killer e-reader app and YouTube on the go. For the unlucky souls whose stores ran out, or for those still undecided, here are the best takes on the device that claims to revolutionize the computer world.

Love It

For the layman, The New York Times’ David Pogue says the new Apple tablet will be a revelation. "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. He praises the apps made specifically for the device and says, “If you like the concept, you’ll love the machine.”

The Wall Street Journal's Walter Mossberg is an even bigger fan. The iPad, he says, "could be a game changer the way Apple's iPhone has been." As an e-reader, Mossberg finds the device better than the Kindle. He also disputes the criticism that the sleek black-and-silver device is just a “big iPhone,” writing that it’s “qualitatively different” and “can run more sophisticated, PC-like software… and whose large screen allows much more functionality when compared to a phone’s.” When he tested the device for a week, its battery power lasted an astounding 11 hours and 28 minutes, even more than Apple claimed it would.

USA Today thinks the iPad is a “winner” and anticipates it will “drum up mass-market interest in tablet computing” and challenge the Kindle. There’s no contest when it comes to which one looks better—a grayscale Winnie the Pooh on a Kindle or a colorfully illustrated one on the iPad. Apps such as Epicurious, Brushes, and Maps benefit from the sleek, 9.7-inch display, writes Edward C. Baig.

Xeni Jardin of Boing Boing could barely contain her excitement over the iPad’s new features, writing that it “hits a completely new pleasure spot” and that the “typography is crisp, images gem-like, and the speed brisk thanks to Apple’s A4 chip and solid state storage.” Instead of producing content, the iPad appears to be “more about experiencing media, and light sharing, than heavy-duty media production.”

PC Mag gave the iPad four-and-a-half out of five stars, calling the gadget, whose pricing starts at $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi-only model, a “ very convincing debut.” Especially notable are the larger, horizontal keyboard with nicely spaced keys and the quick ability to set up mail accounts. Tim Gideon was most impressed with the Marvel Comic app, a “visually stunning encyclopedia of Marvel’s free and pay-for content.” And Gideon, along with almost everyone else, is raving about Theodore Gray’s interactive Table of Elements.

Loathe It

David Pogue of the Times also wrote a review just for techies, and he says they’ll be less than impressed, calling it “a gigantic iPod Touch." He writes that its hailed e-book reader app, which is difficult to read in direct sunlight, is not going to rescue the newspaper and book industries with its puny 60,000-title selection. Another big turnoff is its inability to play Flash video, resulting in thousands of Web sites showing up with empty white squares.

Gizmodo, one of the tech industry’s top blogs, didn’t have one of the first opinions about the iPad—because Apple decided not to give them a review unit. Instead, they were doled out to big publications and longtime Apple loyalists. Dan Frommer at The Business Insider writes that Gizmodo editor Brian Lam was on his way to New York to review the device when he was canceled on at the last minute. Some are speculating that Apple shut out the gadget blogs to avoid early negative reviews, as most are already critical of the iPad’s inability to support Flash. Gizmodo seems to be taking the slight in stride, and Brian Lam writes that celebrities should have reviewed it instead.

CNET gave the iPad four stars, but still peppered its lukewarm review with complaints. “The iPad’s large size is as much a hindrance as it is an advantage,” despite its consolidation of Netbook, e-reader, and photo frame into “an elegant, affordable supergadget.” Its very problem lies in trying to be too much at once, transforming Steve Jobs’ pride and joy into a “jack-of-all-trades and a master of few.” Another major complaint: the lack of an integrated videocamera.