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Jury's out on iPad's impact on media consumption

The unveiling of Apple's new iPad computing device generated much applause as well as the prediction that the ultrathin portable tablet will sell well, but the jury was out on just how much the iPad will revolutionize consumers' media consumption.

The iPad fills the space between laptops and netbooks on one side and cell phones and smartphones on the other, industry experts and potential iPad consumers said. Features such as its large screen and the pricing - which ranges from $499 to $829 - are seen as critical to the iPad's success, industry experts said.

An Apple history
The latest photos of the Apple iPad

And aspects such as the way the slender tablet is designed to be held or cradled could potentially change consumers' browsing experience from a "lean-forward, intensive experience" to a much more relaxed, "lean-back" interaction, said Jon Gibs, vice president of online and integrated analysis for The Nielsen Company.

That screen is a plus for Abraham Roofeh, 29, of Great Neck. The director and producer envisioned carrying around the iPad to show his videos and make pitches. "The clarity looks incredible," he said, adding that he was pleased with the 10-hour battery life.

For Steven Skiena, a Stony Brook University computer science professor, the iPad's debut comes years later than a tablet-style computer he and colleagues predicted in 1988 would come in 2000. He and other graduate students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign won an Apple contest to design the computer of 2000, envisioning a computer with the dimensions of a notebook. While he, like others, was disappointed that there is no camera on the iPad, Skiena said he could see himself purchasing one, especially for the browsing experience.

"I never had a computer I wanted to carry around," he said, noting that the data plan pricing seemed reasonable. "This looks like a computer I want to carry around."

Apple also unveiled a new electronic bookstore, which could do for books and publications what the iTunes Store did for music - provide a platform to sell and deliver written content, even by subscription.

And the iPad could eventually let readers easily buy their favorite newspapers and magazines and have them delivered instantly.

Among the disappointments for many was that the iPad lacked a camera and a Flash player. An enhanced iPod Touch that is more "yawn and snooze rather than shock and awe" is how Michael Obuchowski, chief investment officer for Hauppauge-based First Empire Asset management, Inc., described the new device. "It doesn't change anything," said Obuchowski, whose firm oversees about $3.6 billion, including Apple stock.

An Apple history
The latest photos of the Apple iPad

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