March 06, 2010

To iPad or not to iPad?

On April 3, the long-awaited iPad will finally arrive in stores, starting at $499 for the Wi-Fi-only 16GB version. But is it worth the cash, given that (at first glance, anyway) it appears to be little more than a jumbo-sized iPhone?

I've decided to go ahead and order one (Apple will begin taking pre-orders on March 12) because...well, I'm a gadget blogger, and that's what I do. But I've got serious reservations about the iPad. There's no multitasking. No built-in camera. No Flash support. No real UI innovation. Existing iPhone apps run in windowed mode or via (crude) line doubling.

On the other hand ... surfing the Web on the iPad will probably be a cool experience, especially when holding the tablet in "portrait" orientation. TV shows and movies should look great on the iPad's 9.7-inch display. The iPad could make for an excellent digital newspaper/magazine platform (although I've yet to see a truly eye-popping demo of an iPad magazine app). And it could be a great gaming device, once gaming developers starting churning out games made specifically for the iPad's larger display.

In any case, I plan on cranking out a review as soon as I get my hands on one of these bad boys. Once that's done, however, I'll have to face another issue: Keep the iPad, or get a refund (minus the 10-percent restocking fee)? That, to my mind, will be the acid test.

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