Apple's iPad: Will it replace the notebook? Early reviewers weigh in

How much work can you do with an iPad? Will it replace netbooks or even high-powered notebooks? Early reviewers have given the iPad a workout, but they haven't settled the question.

The iPad will come "pretty close" to replacing laptops for many people, says the AllThingsD's Walt Mossberg:

My verdict is that, while it has compromises and drawbacks, the iPad can indeed replace a laptop for most data communication, content consumption and even limited content creation, a lot of the time. But it all depends on how you use your computer.

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. 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.

Bob "Dr. Mac" LeVitus says the iPad is a new category of device entirely: "For example, now when I want to surf the Web from the couch or back deck, the iPad is the device I choose. Starbucks? Same thing. Think of the iPad as a new arrow in your technology quiver, an arrow that will often be the best tool for a given task."

Both Mossberg and the New York Times's David Pogue says the iPad exceeds Apple's claimed 10-hour battery life by 15-20%.

Mossberg likes the keyboard: "In fact, I found the iPad virtual keyboard more comfortable and accurate to use than the cramped keyboards and touchpads on many netbooks, though some fast touch typists might disagree."

But Pogue didn't love it: "I imagine that you can get good at it with practice, but at the outset, you have to be fairly careful as you type. On the other hand, the iPhone operating system’s auto-correction and auto-suggestion features are always working for you, which helps a lot," he said in an iPad FAQ on his blog.

The iPad doesn't need a case, Pogue says. "This was one of the things I was worried about before I tried the iPad, but it’s built like a tank. I’d have no problem carrying it around loose in my bag. The glass just doesn’t scratch with everyday jostling," he says. However, the $40 case is available for extra protection, and it doubles as a stand.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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