Mossberg reviews Apple iPad: Has the potential to profoundly change portable computing

“For the past week or so, I have been testing a sleek, light, silver-and-black tablet computer called an 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,” Walter S. Mossberg reports for The Wall Street Journal. “It could even help, eventually, to propel the finger-driven, multitouch user interface ahead of the mouse-driven interface that has prevailed for decades.”

In his extensive full review, Mossberg covers many areas, including, but not limited to:
• The iPad is much more than an e-book or digital periodical reader, though it does those tasks brilliantly, better in my view than the Amazon Kindle.
• I’ve been using my test iPad heavily day and night, instead of my trusty laptops most of the time. As I got deeper into it, I found the iPad a pleasure to use…
• My verdict is that, while it has compromises and drawbacks, the iPad can indeed replace a laptop for most data communication, content consumption and even limited content creation, a lot of the time.
• I was impressed with the iPad’s battery life, which I found to be even longer than Apple’s ten-hour claim, and far longer than on my laptops or smart phones. For my battery test, I played movies, TV shows and other videos back-to-back until the iPad died. This stressed the device’s most power-hogging feature, its screen. The iPad lasted 11 hours and 28 minutes, about 15% more than Apple claimed… Oh, and all the while during this battery marathon, I kept the Wi-Fi network running and the email downloading constantly in the background. Your mileage may vary, but with Wi-Fi off and the screen turned down from the fairly bright level I used, you might even do better.
• I also was impressed with the overall speed of the iPad. Apple’s custom processor makes it wicked fast. Screens appear almost instantly…
• I found the iPad virtual keyboard more comfortable and accurate to use than the cramped keyboards and touchpads on many netbooks…
• The Web browser also works beautifully, and takes advantage of the big screen to show full pages and cut down on scrolling.
• Watching videos, viewing photos, listening to music, reading books and playing games was satisfying and fun.
• Apple’s optional iPad word processor, called Pages, is a serious content creation app that should help the iPad compete with laptops and can import Microsoft Office files.
• The photo app is striking, and much more like the one on the Mac than the one on the iPhone. The device can even be used as a digital picture frame. The iPod app is beautiful, too, as are the calendar and contacts app.
• I was able to try a pre-release version of The Wall Street Journal’s new iPad app (which I had nothing to do with designing), and found it gorgeous and highly functional—by far the best implementation of the newspaper I have ever seen on a screen.
• I also found iBooks, Apple’s book reader and store, easy to use, and read a couple of books on it. I consider the larger color screen superior to the Kindle’s, and encountered no eye strain.

There’s much more (including items that Mossberg considers drawbacks or limitations) in the full review – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: This is iPad’s most important review for many reasons, not the least of which is that many in the media will use it as their guidebook about how to treat iPad forevermore, even if they never touch an iPad themselves. To have Mossberg pronounce iPad a better re-reader than Kindle, with a superior, eye strain-free color screen, deem battery life to be impressive, exceeding even Apple’s amazing claims, to call iPad speedy (it’s snappy!), describe iPad’s keyboard as more comfortable and accurate to use than cramped netbook keyboards, and call Pages for iPad serious content creation app is simply a priceless review for Apple. Many who are still on the fence about iPad will be jumping off and running to their nearest Apple Store after reading this one. Tack on some more millions to your iPad unit sales estimates, analysts!

Genius Quote of the Day:
I’ve been covering and reviewing notebooks and battery technology for the past decade, and I know what the current technology is capable of. There is no way that a 1.5-pound computer is going to be able to drive an IPS display for ten hours as Steve Jobs claims. It just can’t happen. Perhaps if you let the iPad lapse into standby mode, you could squeeze it. But if you are actually using the device, my estimate would be less than three hours of power, and that’s being generous. The display would look amazing, but be quite a power hog… Unless Apple has also developed some new type of power source, such as nuclear cells or magical hamsters on tiny spinning wheels for the iPad, don’t expect the claims about battery life to hold true.John Breeden II, Government Computer News, February 01, 2010

32 Comments

  1. And it’s already infiltrated pop media. The iPad was a major topic on “Modern Family” on ABC Wed. night. Very funny show all season, but the iPad story was a hoot. Should be available on Hulu soon.

    Oh, and can’t wait to get hands on the iPad Saturday….

  2. It’s happening for me, again, as it did with the iPod.

    When it was first announced, I thought it was cool, but I didn’t really want one.

    More and more since then, I’m starting to get the fever. 

  3. Problem, the iPad is, percentage-wise, a high margin device that carries forward the iPhone halo effect in dramatic fashion.

    I don’t think Apple has much to worry about. How many families are going to migrate from one or two iPods to one or two iPads, an iMac, two iPhones, and maybe an Apple Airport Extreme?

    Probably one or two…thousand?

  4. @MDN
    “exceeding even Apple’s amazing claims, to call iPad speedy (it’s snappy!)”

    Sorry MDN Walt didn’t indicate the iPad was speedy or snappy. He said the iPad was “wicked fast” which is a hell of a lot faster than speedy-snappy.

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