Will the iPad Make Laptops Obsolete?

Does the introduction of Apple’s new iPad sound the death knell for laptop computers?  The Wall Street Journal’s Personal Technology columnist Walt Mossberg’s test drive of an iPad has him believing that the new product has “the potential to change portable computing as we know it.”  During the test drive, Mossberg used his laptops only 20 percent of the time, because he found the iPad to be extremely user friendly and significantly lighter in weight.

According to Mossberg, “If people see the iPad mainly as an extra device to carry around, it will likely have limited appeal.  If, however, they see it as a way to replace heavier, bulkier computers much of the time – for Web surfing, email, social-networking, video- and photo-viewing, gaming, music and even some light content creation – it could be a game changer the way Apple’s iPhone has been.”  Weaknesses include the inability to write and edit long documents or view Adobe Flash videos, which the iPad doesn’t support.

Based priced at $499 and topping out at $829, the iPad “is thinner and lighter than any netbook or laptop I’ve seen,” Mossberg says.  “It weighs just 1.5 pounds, and its aluminum and glass body mere a mere half-inch thick.  It boasts a big, bright color 9.7-inch screen that occupies most of the front.  As on all Apple portable devices, the battery is sealed in and non replaceable.  It has a decent speaker, and even a tiny microphone.”

Mossberg concludes:  “All in all, however, the iPad is an advance in making more sophisticated computing possible via a simple touch interface on a slender, light device.  Only time will tell if it’s a real challenger to the laptop and netbook.”