Pogue: iPad Is ‘Not Going to Rescue Newspapers and Books’

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Photo: Gizmodo

Despite the great hopes of the media industry, Apple's iPad will not save newspapers and books, Times tech expert David Pogue says in his review of the much-anticipated device, which is finally available this Saturday. Some of his reasons? The thing is heavy; there isn't a whole lot of reading material to pick from; and it's not exactly well-suited for beach reading.

"There’s an e-book reader app, but it’s not going to rescue the newspaper and book industries (sorry, media pundits)," he writes. "The selection is puny (60,000 titles for now). You can’t read well in direct sunlight. At 1.5 pounds, the iPad gets heavy in your hand after awhile (the Kindle is 10 ounces). And you can’t read books from the Apple bookstore on any other machine — not even a Mac or iPhone."

Pogue calls the iPad "the most polarizing product" he has ever come across. Though he helpfully divides his review into two sections — one for techies and one for "everyone else" — he doesn't really come to any unexpected conclusions about the device, which he classifies as "a new category of gadget": Essentially, he says, if you are into the concept of the iPad (that is, a device made for consuming content rather than creating it), "you'll love the machine."

The Journal's Walt Mossberg had an even more precise prediction of how the iPad would divide users: "If you're mainly a Web surfer, note-taker, social-networker and emailer, and a consumer of photos, videos, books, periodicals and music — this could be for you," he writes in his glowing review. "If you need to create or edit giant spreadsheets or long documents, or you have elaborate systems for organizing email, or need to perform video chats, the iPad isn't going to cut it as your go-to device."

Though he noted its limitations, Mossberg raved about the functionality of the device, marveling at its battery life (longer than the ten hours advertised by Apple), extolling its efficient use of the screen for browsing and video-watching, and voicing preference for the iBook functionality over the Amazon Kindle's. "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," he said. "It could even help, eventually, to propel the finger-driven, multitouch user interface ahead of the mouse-driven interface that has prevailed for decades." If people see the iPad as not just an extra device to carry around, but as a way to unburden themselves of heavier, bulkier computers, Mossberg thinks "it could be a game changer the way Apple's iPhone has been."

Reviews: Love It or Not? Looking at iPad From 2 Angles [NYT]
iPad Opens a New Frontier [WSJ]