Back then we got our hands on one, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports.
Since then, Apple has kept the device largely under wraps, sharing it only in the past week or so with a very few tech reviewers and the cast of a TV sitcom.
In an ambitious act of product placement, Wednesday night's episode of ABC's "Modern Family" was all about the iPad.
On Saturday, when real consumers start buying the iPad for $499 and up, we'll begin to see whether Apple has changed the world one more time.
Enthusiasts are focusing on what it can do. The iPad's nearly 10-inch screen can be used to watch movies and play games. It will run 150,000 apps, small programs already created for the iPhone. And it can be held comfortably for reading.
"I think this will basically be your new newspaper and your new stack of magazines," says CNET.com editor Molly Wood.
iPad doubters are focusing on what it doesn't do.
It doesn't have a camera, reports Blackstone. Many cell phones have a camera. Many laptops have a camera. And it doesn't have a real keyboard, as plenty of cell phones do.
"And you know this actually has a physical keyboard, which a lot of people still want," says CNET's Wood of a cell phone. "And the iPad doesn't, so it's hard to imagine why you necessarily need to switch from [a cell phone] to [an iPad]."
Less than a decade ago the iPod was a similarly new device that took a while to catch on. In 2002, just 376,000 iPods were sold. Last year Apple sold more than 54 million of them.
Apple is clearly hoping the iPad will do something similar. Undoubtedly for some, that day will arrive on Saturday.
More Reviews of the iPad:
We have an iPad and that's no April Fool's
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USA Today: Verdict is in on Apple iPad: It's a winner
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.
NY Times: Looking at the iPad from Two Angles
Pogue contends that the techies prefer a conventional laptop, but the non-techies will adore it.
"The bottom line is that the iPad has been designed and built by a bunch of perfectionists. If you like the concept, you'll love the machine."
WSJ: Laptop Killer? Pretty Close
"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. It could even help, eventually, to propel the finger-driven, multitouch user interface ahead of the mouse-driven interface that has prevailed for decades."
PC Magazine: Apple iPad (Wi-Fi)
"Aside from Apple enthusiasts, many of us wondered who would drop hundreds of dollars for this not-quite-computer. But having used the iPad for some time, I can tell you that the device just makes sense. When you combine basic-but-essential work tools with iWork, an improved browser, e-mail, iPod, and photo applications, a well-executed e-Book platform with iBooks, and throw in thousands of downloadable apps and games, and package it all in a gorgeous, slim slate with a beautiful 9.7-inch touch screen, you have yourself a winner."
For more on the iPad, click on the video demo below:
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