Apple iPad review: First look

Is the Apple iPad really any good or just a lot of hot air? We review it to find out.

Apple iPad

It can't replace a netbook or laptop because it lacks a physical keyboard and an operating system capable of running complex software. Sure, you can connect a keyboard to the iPad and prop it up with a stand, but then it's much less portable and convenient than a netbook. Sure, it has a catalogue of more than 170,000 apps at its disposal, but the OS itself can't handle the enterprise software that makes the world turn.

It can't really replace anything. But then again, we're not so sure it's supposed to.

If you want the iPad strictly to use as a web tablet, intended to browse the internet through mobile Safari or the plethora of web-connected apps, then it's an amazing device. Again, as long as you can do without Flash-based video content and games. And as long as you use it mostly indoors, away from direct sunlight.

If you want the iPad to be a web tablet and an ebook reader, you're still going to be supremely impressed. iBooks is a wonderful marketplace and reading the books purchased within is a pleasure. You're not going to get weeks of battery life as you will with other ebook readers like the Kindle, and you're not going to have the flexibility to read comfortably in all lighting conditions. Truth be told, the interface more than makes up for these shortcomings.

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If you want the iPad to be a web tablet, ebook reader and productivity tool, it's just not going to happen unless your productivity needs are absolutely minimal - for now, at least. We definitely expect future versions of the iPad to make some progress in this area.

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