Apple iPad: the early reviews

By Steve Safran Comment

The early reviews are in for the Apple iPad, and they can be summed up by our own Cory Bergman: “Anticipointment.” For my part, I quote Emperor Nero from Mel Brooks’ “History of the World, Part I”: “Nice. Nice. Not thrilling, but nice.” There is certainly a lot to like about the device. But there is a lot of reaction along the lines of “It seems obvious what they have left out for future editions.” MacHeads (of which I am one) are used to a familiar pattern: Apple introduces a well-hyped product, charges top dollar for it at first, lowers the price and improves the product annually. This is why I make it a rule never to buy the first generation of anything Apple makes.

Our new writer, Erik Schwartz, points out in the comments that the iPad is “…basically a big iPhone but with no calling capability, no SMS, and no camera.” Seriously – how do you leave out the camera? This device seems perfect for video Skype calls and video blogging. There doesn’t seem to be a good reason to leave out a camera. And if you’re going to pay $29 a month for 3G, it seems the least they can throw in would be text messaging. You’re not likely to use the iPad as a primary phone, but it would be a handy two-way internet device if you could video Skype and text.

Hunting around the Web for reaction, we find a lot of similar takes. Gizmodo, which liveblogged the event, has a withering evaluation about the iPad, calling it “…as inessential a product as I’ve ever seen, but beyond that, it has some absolutely backbreaking failures that will make me judge anyone who buys one.” Engadget writes that the screen is stunning, the CPU is “blazingly fast” and the e-book implementation is excellent. However, Engadget also notes the iPad’s downsides: no Flash compatibility, and no multitasking: “It’s a real disappointment. All this power and very little you can do with it at once. No multitasking means no streaming Pandora when you’re working in Pages… you can figure it out. It’s a real setback for this device.” The New York TimesBits Blog also noted the absence of some critical features in the iPad. But The New York Times’ David Pogue says that after a period of blog bashing, people will line up to buy the iPad. He has a point.

All Things D’s John Paczkowski noted that the crowd at today’s iPad announcement groaned when Steve Jobs mentioned that the only data partner is, again, AT&T. The good news, I suppose, is that there will be no calls to drop.

There is a certain amount of controversy surrounding the name “iPad.” This, I must admit, I didn’t see coming. And here’s where things get somewhat delicate. It seems some women associate the word “pad” with a feminine hygiene product. Writes the L.A. Times: “Don’t take our word for it. Just take a look at Twitter, Tumblr or any number of other social blabbing sites and search #iTampon. It’s outpacing #iPad itself as one of the most popular topics.” The Seattle P-I’s “The Big Blog” writer Monica Guzman notes: “…the word “pad” has a meaning that is about as far removed from computing as a Band-Aid is from a television set. Let me not elaborate. You know what I’m talking about.” A little silly if you ask me, but I’m a guy.

Still, the market liked what it saw. Apple stock (AAPL) closed up about one percent to $204. As far as shareholders are concerned, that’s the only review that matters.