Thursday, April 1, 2010

First iPad Reviews: consumer-oriented reviews only lightly touch on the device's impact on publishing industry

OK, the first reviews are in, so what have we learned. Not much, other than reviewers love the term "laptop killer" (or some variation of the same). The fact is that the early reviews from people like David Pogue and Walt Mossberg are positive, but pretty much useful when considered from the perspective of a publishing executive trying to decide whether to go all-in when it comes to tablet publishing.

From a consumer's perpective, the reviews have been wildly positive so I suppose that says something about the chances the device will be a hit. The only terribly negative comments I've read have come from the comments area from those who really have something against Apple -- and who, of course, did not receive an iPad to test.

Well, I'm sad to say, neither did I. Despite being an Apple customer since early 1983, Steve Jobs did not see fit to send me an iPad (I'm shocked I say, shocked). So here are some of the early reviews for you to read. This list will be updated with reviews that appear from time to time, and will be included here only if there is some relevance to publishing (for instance, it talks about the iPad as a reader of newspapers, magazines or books in some sort of meaningful way):

Andy Ihnatiko, Sun-Times: iPad is pure innovation - one of best computers ever
A quick overview, very positive. First in a series.

Andy IhnatikoSun-TimesiBooks is worth the price alone for iPad as ebook reader
Another in his series of reviews, this time concentrating on iBooks and the reading experience. "Apple got it right. I can’t think of anything exceptional that they’ve added to the reading experience but do you really want the reading experience to be anything other than “read page, turn page, repeat”?"

Steven Levy, Wired: Apple's iPad: One Small Step for Tablets, One Giant Leap for Personal Computers
"Until you actually hold it and interact with it, you can't appreciate how its scale makes the iPad a different animal from the iPhone and the Touch. There's something about the size and interface that engages you almost primally in reading, viewing video, web browsing, playing Scrabble and other activities."

David Pogue, NYT: State of the Art: Looking at the iPad From Two Angles
Positive, but damning with faint praise. Very negative about iPad as a reader.

Walt Mossberg, WSJ: Apple iPad Review: Laptop Killer? Pretty Close
Very positive, but approaches iPad as a notebook replacement. Enthusiastic about the iPad as a reader.
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Guess I shouldn't leave out this one from actor/writer/comedian Stephen Fry:

Stephen Fry, Time: The iPad Launch: Can Steve Jobs Do It Again?
Steve Jobs makes the cover of Time magazine for the launch. Fry writes "Douglas Adams is not alive to see the closest thing to his Hitchhiker's Guide that humankind has yet devised."

Edward C. Baig, USA Today: Verdict is in on Apple iPad: It's a winner
"Apple is taking solid aim at the burgeoning electronic-reader market dominated by the Kindle. Judged solely from a sizzle standpoint: There's no contest."

Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus, Hands-on with an iPad
Very thorough review from a user's perspective. Best overall review to date, though I assume Ihnatko's follow-ups will be very good, as well.

Tim Gideon, PC World: Apple iPad (WiFi)
Long, thorough review, mostly positive review. Here is an excerpt from the iBook part:
"Kindle: I like you, but I am nervous about your future. The iPad displays books in a way that is much flashier than your black and white e-ink screen. It shows illustrations in color. Page turns actually look like page turns. And Apple gets the extras right, like being able to bookmark any word in the book you're reading and then find it on a menu of all your bookmarks, sorted by date. The Search function is also excellent. Want to reread a conversation between two characters early on in the book? Type in what you remember about it and iBooks will guide you to the closest approximations. Or search a character name or a reference not only in the book, but in Google and Wikipedia. Some people will never put down actual paper books in favor of a device like this, but those on the fence will likely be swayed by the excellent graphics, ease of use, and extra features like Search and an adjuster that lets you dim the iPad's screen brightness. What remains to be seen, however, is how it will be to read for long periods on the iPad. Kindle, and other e-book readers' e-ink screens are known for being very easy on the eyes."