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iPad Roundup: What the Bloggers Have Said So Far

Senior correspondent Jeffrey Brown takes the NewsHour’s new iPad for a spin on the set. Photo by Kate Gardiner.

Sixty-five days after it was announced, the iPad went on sale Saturday, selling more than 300,000 units before midnight.

Analysts say they believed more than 600,000 of the tablets are on the street as of Monday morning, and orders are still pouring into Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters and retail stores.

In addition, the company says more than 1 million apps and 250,000 books were downloaded from Apple’s new iBook Store for the device.

Even before the iPad was available to the general public, media companies across the country were racing to develop new applications for the iPad. But hopes pinned high on the “game-changing” device may not immediately come to fruition. Technologists criticize it for what it lacks – and consumers are faced with buying a first generation of the device now for $499+ or waiting until another version is released with more features.

David Pogue, tech critic for the New York Times, went so far as to write two reviews of the iPad for his readership: one for average consumers and one for tech geeks.

Pogue says he thinks the device is marvelous – for information consumption. It’s fast, it’s easy to use and its battery life exceeds 10 hours – running constantly. But, he acknowledges, techies have a point:

When the iPad is upright, typing on the on-screen keyboard is a horrible experience; when the iPad is turned 90 degrees, the keyboard is just barely usable (because it’s bigger). A $70 keyboard dock will be available in April, but then you’re carting around two pieces.

At least Apple had the decency to give the iPad a really fast processor. Things open fast, scroll fast, load fast. Surfing the Web is a heck of a lot better than on the tiny iPhone screen — first, because it’s so fast, and second, because you don’t have to do nearly as much zooming and panning.

But as any Slashdot.org reader can tell you, the iPad can’t play Flash video. Apple has this thing against Flash, the Web’s most popular video format; says it’s buggy, it’s not secure and depletes the battery. Well, fine, but meanwhile, thousands of Web sites show up with empty white squares on the iPad — places where videos or animations are supposed to play.

And Pogue was not alone. Regardless of whether or not the device immediately changes the tech landscape, or if the shift to a touch interface is slower over time, consumers are being exposed en masse to a new way of experiencing media.

And for some, it’s one of the best possible new mediums. Marvel Comics, for example, debuted its new iPad app with Wired last week, republishing classic comics in full color and close to their original size.

Developers across the country have been racing to update existing iPhone applications for the device while media outlets are looking at the device as a way to “save” traditional journalism outlets suffering from the online revolution.

Watch Monday’s NewsHour for a discussion of the pros and cons of Apple’s newest gadget, featuring senior correspondent Jeffrey Brown, Wall Street Journal columnist Walt Mossberg and Paul Saffo, director of Institute for the Future.

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