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Apple iPad



The good: In an act of aggressive tech convergence, Apple has consolidated your Netbook, e-reader, gaming device, photo frame, and iPod into an elegant, affordable supergadget. Features such as Bluetooth, 802.11n Wi-Fi, movie rentals, 10 hours of battery life, optional 3G wireless, and the most-celebrated App Store on the planet have us pretty worked up.



The bottom line: The Apple iPad is the first affordable tablet computer worth owning, but it won't (yet) replace your laptop.
Editors' note (November 23, 2010): The following review has been updated to reflect new features added with Apple's iOS 4.2, and includes battery test results from CNET Labs.
Of course, we come to you with a standard list of complaints. The absence of an integrated video camera puts the kibosh on any hope of using the iPad for video chats, and without Flash video support, many Web pages look like Swiss cheese. But the biggest problem with the device is coming up with bullet-proof reasons to buy one.The Apple iPad is an unprecedented device. It doesn't shoot rainbows or make puppies, but this roughly 8x10-inch tablet computer melds your laptop, smartphone, gaming console, and iPod into a single, affordable, unfortunately named thing.
Because the iPad is an entirely new class of device, you'll probably need to lie to yourself a little to justify the purchase. But at this point, any CNET readers worth their salt have mastered the art of making excuses to buy new gadgets.
For the uninitiated, Apple has posted a cheat sheet of demo videos that provide a smorgasbord of reasonable answers to the question: "Why do I need an iPad?" To hear Apple tell it, the iPad is a Web browser for your living room, an e-book reader for the den, a movie player for the kids, a photo album, a jukebox, a gamer's best friend, a word processor, an e-mail machine, and a YouTube junkie's dream come true. No excuse good enough for you? Wait a few minutes and a developer will inevitably make an app for it.
Whatever you need to tell yourself to buy an iPad, we can safely say the device is a worthwhile addition to any wired home. We don't give much weight to the pundits who say that the iPad is the future of the personal computer, but we think it's the most entertaining gadget we'll see all year.

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