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Apple's undue influence on iPad reviewers

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Or maybe the reviewers were all responding to something

that specification fetishists don't get... the user experience.

David Pogue of the NYT gave a very measured review in my opinion. The other big 4 reviewers (WSJ, Chicago Sun Times, USA Today) all made note of the flash issue as well as other downsides (lack of a physical keyboard, lack of multitasking, etc). What they gushed about was the experience of using the device and the intangible qualities that can't be discerned via a spec list. Andy Ihnatko of the CST says it well:

These other tablets have a feature list a mile long (?Is just one camera enough? The hell with it: let?s put in five, including two that face each other.?) That?s easy. The challenge they all seem to be avoiding is to restrict the device to features that are truly relevant to tablet computing.

Now I'll withhold judgment till I touch the product myself but if there is one thing that Apple usually gets, it's the importance of the experience. Slapping together a me-too device with a mile long spec list is just not enough.

Perhaps all this gushing is unfounded and its not nearly as "magical" as Apple claims. That is certainly possible. But the notion that ALL of these reviewers have fooled their editors and are secretly on the take from Apple is absurd. These are major newspapers with reputations to uphold. They don;t take those kinds of payola lightly.

Has Pat Kiernan, the author of that piece, actually touched an iPad himself? No. But that didn't stop him from writing an article critiquing other writers who have actually have touched one. In my opinion, that kind of speculation and conjecture is a hell of a lot more suspect than the reviews we got from the NYT, WSJ, CST and USA Today.

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You answer your own critique of the writer...

You asked if Kiernan actually touched the iPad himself. And the answer is only a select few writers have. And I think he makes a great point in saying if these writers slammed the iPad, would they be part of the reviewer corps for the next Apple invention that will change the world <sarc>? It's possible...but common sense says otherwise. So, there is certainly a motive for these individuals to be somewhat tame in any real critique.

An analogy would be in the political world, where beat writers/reporters for the White House might be more apt to give somewhat more favorable or less-strident commentary/reportage on the president (whoever it is). Why? Simple: Access. No one wants to be locked out on the access front. I see the same potential here.

Now, that said, does that mean these people truly hated the iPad and wanted to say so? Absolutely not! But I'll trust the reviews of organizations that actually PAY for the device after it launches --like Consumer Reports does-- far more than some select group of writers that Apple or any manufacturer chooses to showcase their new gadget.

And as for the user experience, how a somewhat-crippled device that can't multitask, has no input/output options to speak of, and can't render the format used by the majority of websites posting videos contributes to this "user experience" you speak of, I'm a little confused. But I tip my hat to their marketing peeps...they do know how to create a demand where none naturally exists sometimes.

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We will see.

It looks as if Vimeo is now onboard the flash alternative train as well as a whole slew of other sites:

We could play suspicion and conjecture games all day. I could argue that it is reasonable to assume that Kiernan is bitter that he did not have access to pre-release iPad for his own review. Professional jealousy? A bit of a chip on your shoulder? Of course none of this stopped him from writing an article about others writing about the iPad though did it? So he could be just as guilty of cynically riding the iPad news cycle this week as every other news organization. Of course I have no proof of any of this. But it all COULD be true. So this is what passes for journalism these days?

Paranoid speculation is just as pointless coming from me as it is coming from Kiernan (and that's what his piece amounts to... speculation about other's motives with proof other than the possibility of it being true). He has no more proof of his conspiracy theories than I have of mine. At least the NYT, CST, WSJ and USA Today reviewers were responding to a real product that they had in their hands.

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