Many media outlets have had the privilege of a sneak-peek, hands-on experience with the Apple iPad, and the initial onslaught of reviews is in. Even those who are not totally hypnotized by Apple's magic still seem to have a healthy respect for what the iPad represents, and many of the reviews highlight why the iPad could change mobile business computing.
Let's take a look at a sampling of the initial reviews:
Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal described his iPad experience "After spending hours and hours with it, 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," going on to add "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."
The New York Times' David Pogue recognizes a divide between those who seem to despise the device, and those who feel the iPad is love at first sight--even though neither camp has actually seen or touched one yet. Pogue approaches his review by writing about the iPad's shortcomings--no Flash, no multitasking, etc.--for hardcore business use, but then goes on to explore the benefits of the iPad experience, summing with "The iPad is so fast and light, the multitouch screen so bright and responsive, the software so easy to navigate, that it really does qualify as a new category of gadget."
The Chicago Sun-Times' Andy Ihnatko had his own praise for the Apple tablet with an article sub-titled "iPad is pure innovation - one of best computers ever", in which he says "in situation after situation, I find that the iPad is the best computer in my household and office menagerie. It's not a replacement for my notebook, mind you. It feels more as if the iPad is filling a gap that's existed for quite some time."
We'll wrap up with some feedback from Dwight Silverman of the Houston Chronicle. Silverman states "I had high expectations for the iPad, and it has met or exceeded most of them," also noting "It turns out the iPad isn't as much a laptop replacement as I thought (though it could easily be used as one). Instead, it's an entirely new category of mobile device."
Perhaps the most telling part of Silverman's review, though, is when he shared "prior to our iPad's arrival she said she didn't understand why anyone would want or need an iPad. Now she just keeps saying, 'No, you can't have it back.'"
So, what does this all mean for business professionals anxious to jump on the iPad bandwagon, or cautiously waiting in the wings to see if it lives up to the hype? Well, the initial feedback seems unanimous in declaring that the iPad is not a laptop killer--but its close. The reviews also demonstrate that the iPad is not just good, but beyond most expectations, at those tasks it is designed to tackle.
You won't use it to create multi-faceted spreadsheets, or write a 50-page business document--but you could if you had to. Stop and consider, though, what you really do with your notebook or netbook computer--surf the Web, check e-mail, read or review existing documents and spreadsheets, and maybe the occasional game of solitaire. Do you really need to carry a bulky, six-pound laptop that's cumbersome to open and hold, and has about two hours of battery life--if you're lucky?
There are road warriors who will need the full horsepower and productivity of a "real" computer, but the vast majority of mobile business professionals will find that the iPad actually can fill the role of the portable computing device, and perform the tasks they normally carry a notebook or netbook to accomplish.
Follow Tech Audit on Twitter.