The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg is the first of the big tech writers at mass market news organizations to post their review of the iPad online.
The review, however, is obsessed with the idea that the iPad is designed to be a competitor to low costs netbooks. The review raves about the iPad's ability to surf the web, do e-mail, play games, etc. Were it not for the hype surrounding the device one would think Mossberg would have simply reviewed the iPad along side netbooks.
Mossberg barely discusses the iPad as a reader -- though he does say he prefers the iPad to the Kindle because of the color screen, sharpness.
For David Pogue, the New York Times technology writer, the iPad is "not a laptop", but a 'gigantic iPod touch'. Pogue completely pans the device as a reader stating that "but it’s not going to rescue the newspaper and book industries (sorry, media pundits)." (Guess that's me, right?)
Pogue goes on to say that "you can’t read well in direct sunlight. At 1.5 pounds, the iPad gets heavy in your hand after awhile (the Kindle is 10 ounces)." He also laments the lack of Flash and multitasking.
As a gamer, however, Pogue seems to love it. "But the real fun begins when you try the apps that were specially designed for the iPad’s bigger screen," Pogue writes.
For me, Mossberg's review misses the mark. A better notebook computer would have no impact on publishing. But Pogue says that the iPad is a horrible laptop and that it is really a game and entertainment machine. Did these two guys get the same device mailed to them by Apple?
These two early reviews are a concern for me: is Apple really gearing the iPad towards the netbook market as the WSJ's Mossberg seems to suggest? Or is Apple creating a new mobile entertainment device, something that is a lot of fun, but pretty much useless as reader or computing device?
I have never seen the iPad as either a netbook or a gaming machine, but a mobile reader that also provides entertainment and basic computing as an added bonus. It seems, so far, that writers (including myself, I suppose) have such different expectations, caused perhaps by Apple's promises that the device can do it all.
Update: Watch for Andy Ihnatko's stories for the Sun-Times. He promises a whole series of stories about the device that promise to be thoughtful and thorough. I know I will be reading them to see has caught his attention. Here is his first column.