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Is the iPad for watching, or doing—or both?

The initial reviews of the iPad are out, from a select group of technology columnists who received iPads from Apple, and they’re something of a hodge-podge of opinions and impressions. Yet one theme emerges: Will the iPad be a device that’s primarily for watching videos, reading books, and otherwise consuming content? Or will it be suitable for creating content, too, whether that means writing or photo editing or drawing?

Here’s David Pogue, from The New York Times:

The iPad is not a laptop. It’s not nearly as good for creating stuff. On the other hand, it’s infinitely more convenient for consuming it — books, music, video, photos, Web, e-mail and so on. For most people, manipulating these digital materials directly by touching them is a completely new experience — and a deeply satisfying one.

Walter Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal also sees limited use for the iPad in terms of creating content:

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.

Yet Andy Ihnatko of the Chicago Sun-Times sees the iPad as a “real computer,” saying “I’m convinced that it can do damned-near anything I’d use a notebook for.” He plans to leave his notebook computer behind on a trip to New York.

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