“Walt Mossberg has a 500-word section on ‘Drawbacks’ in his review [yesterday] of the iPad 2,” John Gruber writes for Daring Fireball. “The whole thing is a crock, an example of trying to be fair/balanced/objective by bending over backwards to find negative things to say about the device. No one is arguing that the iPad 2 is beyond criticism. But almost nothing in Mossberg’s list of drawbacks is valid.”

One of Mossberg’s so-called “downsides,” is “that battery life for movie playback — with the brightness set 25 percent higher than Apple’s factory default — exceeds Apple’s stated 10 hours by nine minutes,” Gruber writes. “Apple says you can play video for 10 hours, Mossberg gets 10 hours and nine minutes, and it’s a downside? You can argue that it should be a ‘downside’ because he got over 11 hours on the same test with an original iPad, but none of the other reviewers seem to be seeing a 10 percent drop in battery life for video playback between the original and new iPads. I saw nearly identical results between the two. Josh Topolsky at Engadget saw better battery life from the iPad 2 than the original. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a review where a product that exceeds the manufacturer’s stated specs for battery life gets dinged for battery life.”

Now we get to the good stuff:

“Finally, there are two big omissions, one old and one new. The old one is that, like Apple’s prior phones and tablets, the shiny new iPad 2 still won’t play Adobe’s Flash video in its built-in Web browser. This is a deliberate decision by Apple, and puts its devices at a disadvantage for some users when compared with Android tablets, which can play Flash, or say they will soon, albeit not always well.” – Walter S. Mossberg

Gruber writes, “So the Xoom doesn’t play Flash but promises to eventually, the Galaxy Tab does but often not well, and the iPad 2’s lack of Flash is a disadvantage? No mention that there are clearly trade-offs in play. Like that Flash Player might have some sort of effect on battery life. Or that the lack of Flash on the iPad is an impetus that motivates developers to write native iPad apps.”

“Mossberg’s entire review is only 1,500 words; measured by the word, a full third of what he has to say about it are these ‘drawbacks,'” Gruber writes. “By contrast, his 1,200-word review of the Motorola Xoom — a tablet nearly everyone, including Mossberg, agrees is inferior to the iPad 2 — contains one 62-word paragraph of ‘downsides.’ Stating the plain truth, that the iPad 2 has no serious competition as a mainstream consumer device, doesn’t make you biased. It makes you accurate.”

Read more in the full article – very highly recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s nice to finally have some company on this. For years now, we’ve been discussing such things as Mossberg’s “Android Tourette’s” (dropping Android randomly into Apple product “reviews” for seemingly no reason other than to concoct the appearance of being “fair and balanced”) among other inconsistencies (see Gruber’s full piece for some nice examples). And, it’s not just Android, either. Mossberg’s issue simply seems to be Apple. (See: What’s wrong with Walt Mossberg? – MacDailyNews, October 22, 2009).

If we had to guess, we’d say that for many years Mossberg was properly reviewing Apple products objectively, but somewhere along the line he was accused of being an “Apple fanboy” by someone that mattered to him. (His employer? Apple competitors? His dog? Who knows?) Regardless of the reason why, Mossberg, in some quixotic quest for appear objective, has for some time seemed compelled to gin up “negatives” in his “reviews” of Apple products while also overly praising what are clearly inferior wares from companies that stamp out Apple product derivatives. What Mossberg still doesn’t seem to grasp is that the end result is that he appears to be biased against Apple and/or a cheerleader for any company attempting to compete with Apple.

Maybe the addition of Gruber’s criticism will help Mossberg to wake up. Regardless, in our eyes, Mossberg’s hard-earned reputation for accuracy, objectivity, and independence has been severely tarnished and irretrievably squanderd. And that’s sad, for we used to hold him in the very highest esteem.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Jax44” for the heads up.]

Related article:
Mossberg reviews Apple iPad 2: Moves the goal posts; lighter, thinner, more powerful – March 10, 2011