InfoWorld review: Apple iPad surprises, disappoints

The excellent iPad is a sleek media player and a highly functional tablet computer, but there's room for improvement

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Speaking of radios, the iPad lacks a fairly fundamental feature: the iPhone's airplane mode. Even the non-3G iPad has wireless and Bluetooth radios that need to be turned off during flight, but the only way to do this is by disabling each of them. Considering how much iPhone users like airplane mode, the lack of this feature is puzzling.

One of the big draws of the iPad is as a book reader. Unlike other e-book readers, the iPad has a real display rather than a power-saving e-ink display. Some have worried that the standard backlit display would be difficult to use for long periods of time or in low-light conditions. Both of these fears are baseless, as I found it extremely comfortable to read for long periods of time, and the easily accessible brightness controls can make any reading situation tolerable. I was very happy that the iBooks reader app uses the ePub ebook standard. If you have books in this format, it's very simple to get them synced to the iPad by importing them into iTunes. I added half a dozen books this way without a problem. It is rather surreal to read something like Neal Stephenson's futuristic tech novel "Snow Crash" on a device like this.

Much ado has been made of the newspaper applications on the iPad. I don't know if the iPad will save the newspaper business, as some have hoped, but it's definitely a compelling way to read the "paper." USA Today's app is nicely laid out and customizable, offering a great way to easily find and digest news. The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have similar applications, and will be charging monthly subscription fees for unfettered access to their content.

There's no doubt that the iPad truly is a wonderfully engineered piece of technology, and the features it provides are going to be game-changing. That said, it's a little underwhelming. If any other company had released this device, I would be blown away, but somehow I expected more out of the iPad. It seems that Apple might be a victim of their own success to some degree.

For a freshman entry into the tablet market, the iPad is phenomenal, but it certainly isn't what it could be. Rome wasn't built in a day, though even that might be possible for Steve Jobs. I know that I like the iPad enough to keep it, but I'll also be looking forward to Apple's sophomore effort.

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