For all of the back and forth about the iPad over the last week, only a handful of people (including Stephen Colbert) have gotten to actually touch one. Fox News, of all the outlets out there, posted a pretty clean and objective hands-on with the iPad earlier this week, and you can get a pretty good idea of what it's like to actually hold the device in your hands from them. They say that it works well -- the keyboard is about the same as an iPhone keyboard (though they don't say whether they try the hunt-and-peck of the iPhone, or actually try to lay their hands down as if on a laptop), and they agree to what we've heard elsewhere: that while the iPad is a nice computer, it's much more of an iPhone extension than a full laptop or even desktop replacement.
One of the most interesting notes is that the much-discussed camera might not be the biggest omission from Apple's tablet -- Fox says that an SD slot or a USB port is a much bigger exception, meaning that if you want to actually do anything with files (view photos or print PDFs) from the iPad, you'll have to transfer them to and from another computer first. Of course Apple is introducing an SD addon with the device, and I thought that I'd heard the Bluetooth connection would print from the iPad, but then of course you've got to have a Bluetooth-enabled printer, and as you already know if you've ever depended on Bluetooth, even then it may be a crapshoot.
Still, the device sounds about like what we all predicted a tablet would be: a MacBook Air sort of satellite extension to your household web browsing and minor computing. I still can't wait to get my hands on one -- hopefully we'll get to see a unit in person at next week's Macworld.
iPad hands-on: Not a full desktop replacement, but the keyboard works
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