Apple iPad first impressions arrive

Tech journalism heavy hitters got their hands on the iPad Wednesday, and here's what a few of them had to say about it.

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    Tech journalists get their first look at the iPad, on Wednesday at San Francisco's Yerba Buena center.
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The iPad is here.

Those of us who read yesterday's liveblogs and struggled to make out Steve Jobs' words through choppy, pirated audio streams may think we know what it's all about. But we weren't there. As Jobs himself effused from the stage, "Watching it is nothing like getting it in your hands. When you feel all this power and this much fun and the Internet in your hands, you’ll never want to go back.”

But mere mortals will have to wait 60 days before the iPad arrives in stores – how will we know?

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The anointed assembled tech press were invited into a hands-on area after the iPad's unveiling, and we've collected some of their observations below:

"You know how everyone who has ever done Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? always says, 'It’s not the same when you’re actually here. So different from when you’re sitting at home watching.'? You know how often you’ve heard that? Well, you’ll hear the same from anyone who’s handled an iPad," gushed Stephen Fry on his blog.

Gizmodo's Mark Wilson waxed poetic on the iPad's design and speed: "It's substantial but surprisingly light. Easy to grip. Beautiful. Rigid. Starkly designed. The glass is a little rubbery but it could be my sweaty hands. And it's fasssstttt."

Joshua Topolsky at Engadget posted video of his hands-on, alongside this nugget on how the vaunted iBooks app works: "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."

Techcrunch writer MG Siegler, after remarking that 15 minutes with the original iPhone turned him from skeptic to true believer, didn't see the same potential in the iPad. "The moment I picked up the iPad today I knew exactly what to do with it. It was second-nature. It was the iPhone, only larger – and that felt good. Meanwhile, I watched some other people who said they didn’t use an iPhone regularly interact with the iPad for the first time and it was not nearly as seamless."

The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg, after extolling the virtues of the iPad's software and its iPhone roots, dinged the device for its onscreen keyboard: "I found it almost too wide for thumb typing, and a colleague who’s a whiz at touch typing and tried it briefly found it awkward to type on. Apple is offering an auxiliary physical keyboard that docks with, and charges, the iPad. But you won’t want to lug that around."

Ever the tech sage, New York Times technology columnist David Pogue cautions against what he calls the three phases of Apple product rollouts. Now that months of frenzied anticipation are over, he writes, we move on to phase two: "The bashing by the bloggers who’ve never even tried it: 'No physical keyboard!' 'No removable battery!' 'Way too expensive!' 'Doesn’t multitask!' 'No memory-card slot!'" Pogue hadn't used the iPad, but asserts that once the thing goes on sale, the negative buzz will abate.

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We, of course, haven't touched an iPad, either. But once we get ahold of one, you'll be the first to know our thoughts on it if you follow us on Twitter – we're @CSMHorizonsBlog.

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