Apple Inc's iPad scored very well in terms of ease of use and battery life in its first reviews, but it won't obliterate the laptop computer market just yet, according to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
Reviewers at both papers said that while the tablet computer, which goes on sale on Saturday, works nicely for Web surfing or consuming media like video and books, it may appeal less to people who need laptops for more heavy duty chores.
The Journal's Walt Mossberg said he prefers the iPad as an e-reader to the popular Kindle e-reader from Amazon.com Inc.
But David Pogue from the New York Times said the device's 1.5 pound weight is too heavy for reading compared to Kindle's 10 ounces. He also griped that "You can't read well in direct sunlight" and "You can't read books from the Apple bookstore on any other machine, not even a Mac or iPhone."
Both reviewers said they were very impressed with the gadget's battery life as it lasted longer than Apple's impressive claim of 10 hours battery life.
Pogue said he was able to use the device for 12 hours before it needed a charge, while Mossberg said iPad withstood 11 hours and 28 minutes of continuous use.
However, the reviewers said the device could only replace laptops for a certain kind of computer buyer.
"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," Mossberg said.
But he added, "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."
Pogue, who wrote a separate review for techies and "everybody else", also highlighted shortcomings versus laptops.
"The bottom line is that you can get a laptop for much less money with a full keyboard, DVD drive, USB jacks, camera-card slot, camera, the works."
Mossberg said the device was "wicked fast" but had "annoying limitations."
"For instance, the email program lacks the ability to create local folders or rules for auto-sorting messages, and it doesn't allow group addressing. The browser lacks tabs. And the Wi-Fi-only version lacks GPS," he said.
Both noted iPad's support for the popular Flash video technology, and questioned consumers' willingness to carry another device along with their laptop and phone.
"If people see the iPad mainly as an extra device to carry around, it will likely have limited appeal," Mossberg said.
But they admired iPad's speed and ease of use.
"The iPad is so fast and light, the multi-touch screen so bright and responsive, the software so easy to navigate, that it really does qualify as a new category of gadget," Pogue said, adding it would appeal to less tech savvy users.
"Some have suggested it might make a good goof-proof computer for technophobes, the aged and the young; they're absolutely right," he said.