Apple’s iPad: The reviews are in

April 1, 2010, 2:55 AM UTC

Steve Jobs’ handpicked reviewers have tested his latest creation and pronounced it a winner

Photo: Apple Inc.

The first three reviews of Apple’s (AAPL) tablet computer were posted Wednesday night — each, coincidentally, from newspapers that are developing their own iPad apps.

The verdicts are strikingly similar, although each writer reaches it by a different path.

Walt Mossberg, writing for the Wall Street Journal, starts with the assumption that to succeed the iPad must be a “laptop killer” and proceeds to tell us where it comes through and where it falls short. David Pogue, writing for The New York Times, writes two reviews, one for the people who will hate it and one for those who will love it. USA Today‘s Ed Baig thinks Apple has pretty much nailed it, with room — of course — for improvement.

[UPDATE: The big three were followed by a flood of reviews from lower on Apple’s pecking order. See Techmeme for the full effect.]

Excerpts and links below the fold:

The Wall Street Journal

: Walter S. 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.

The New York Times

: David Pogue (for techies)

The bottom line is that you can get a laptop for much less money — with a full keyboard, DVD drive, U.S.B. jacks, camera-card slot, camera, the works. Besides: If you’ve already got a laptop and a smartphone, who’s going to carry around a third machine?

The New York Times

: David Pogue (for everybody else)

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. Some have suggested that it might make a good goof-proof computer for technophobes, the aged and the young; they’re absolutely right.

USA Today

: Edward C. Baig

The first iPad is a winner. It stacks up as a formidable electronic-reader rival for Amazon’s Kindle. It gives portable game machines from Nintendo and Sony a run for their money. At the very least, the iPad will likely drum up mass-market interest in tablet computing in ways that longtime tablet visionary and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates could only dream of. …

Nearly three years after making a splash with the iPhone, Apple has delivered another impressive product that largely lives up to the hype.

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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