"Is this the publishing industry's savior?" asked The Los Angeles Times, referencing the speculation leading up to Apple's press event in San Francisco Wednesday morning.
"Could the iPad instantly succeed -- like the iPod did for digital music before it -- where Amazon's Kindle had been slowly gaining steam?" the Times wondered.
Actually, the iPod wasn't an instant success (depending on how you determine success. But point taken. Clearly, though, the publishing industry is desperately hoping Apple can provide a needed filip.
Part of the challenge for Apple will be beating the prodigious hype which accompanies any product it makes. Indeed, the prospect of a tablet computer from Apple for months had been the stuff of rumor and mystery. Some letdown was inevitable and so it was that after watching Apple CEO Steve Jobs' performance, Newsweek's technology editor - and Fake Steve Jobs author - Dan Lyons declared "I haven't been this let down since Snooki hooked up with The Situation." Silicon Alley Insider's Dan Frommer was even blunter, dismissing the iPad as "a big yawn."
"Apple CEO Steve Jobs trotted out on stage in San Francisco today, promising "a truly magical and revolutionary" new product. He didn't deliver," Frommer wrote. "The Apple iPad, unveiled today, met base-level expectations -- it's a big iPhone."
PC World's Steve Fox wrote that his first impression was that the iPad was "just a big iPod Touch."
But first impressions invariably are mixed and the reaction to Apple's iPad was no exception. After running the product through its paces in a brief hands-on, the tech blog site Gizmodo gave the unit good marks for system speed, screen crispness and weight. The only apparent negative was the absence of a Flash player. "Over Wi-Fi, Gizmodo loaded quickly. The 9.7-inch screen is an excellent size for reading the site. You can pinch zoom, but you won't need to. Of course, on such a pretty web browsing experience, not having Flash makes the big, empty video boxes in the middle of a page is pretty disappointing. Put differently, the fatal flaw of Apple's mobile browser has never been more apparent."
Engadget's Joshua Topolsky was also impressed by the screen, which he described as "stunning." "The ebook implementation is about as close as you can get to reading without a stack of bound paper in your hand. The visual stuff really helps flesh out the experience. It may be just for show, but it counts here." But it wasn't a clean sweep as Topolsky expressed disappointment at the lack of multitasking or a camera with the iPad.
Beyond the immediate impressions, Peter Kafka, one of the writers at All Things Digital, nailed what likely may be the more telling point: Apple introduced a multimedia device without much in the way of multimedia.
"Jobs and company clearly plan on incorporating new products from newspapers, magazine publishers, TV networks and Hollywood movie studios as the iPad rolls out. But there wasn't much talk about any of those media products during the launch event," he wrote. "The same goes for magazine and newspaper products. As predicted, Apple highlighted an iPad app designed by the New York Times (NYT), but there was no mention of how much the thing would cost, or whether the paper would charge anything at all."
You can also check out a range of hands-on reviews and other reactions to the iPad compiled by our sister site CNET.