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Apple's UK website still lists the iPad - out in the US on Saturday - as due to debut over here in the "late April" timeframe. But when exactly? According to one source, the 24 April.

According to an mole in Canada'a Apple Store, cited by website iPad in Canada, employees have been told that data is 'no time off' day.

While that of itself doesn't indicate 24 April is iPad Day, Apple's public timetable and the need to have personnel in store to hand out pre-ordered product strongly suggests that's when Canadians and, hopefully, the rest of us will be able to get our mitts on one of these beauties.

Meanwhile, the inevitable early write-ups from big-name reviewers Apple provides with kit ahead of time all generally give the device their thumbs-up, most of them revelling in the colour screen, long battery life and 'more powerful than a phone, more convenient than a laptop' user experience.

The iPad's weight is a bit of a downer, and a fair few writers failed to be impressed by the virtual keyboard.

Says David Pogue in the New York Times review: "The iPad is not a laptop. It's not nearly as good for creating stuff. On the other hand, it's infinitely more convenient for consuming it - books, music, video, photos, Web, e-mail and so on. For most people, manipulating these digital materials directly by touching them is a completely new experience - and a deeply satisfying one.

"The iPad is so fast and light, the multi-touch screen so bright and responsive, the software so easy to navigate, that it really does qualify as a new category of gadget. Some have suggested that it might make a good goof-proof computer for technophobes, the aged and the young - they’re absolutely right."

Amazon and other e-book reader makers need to watch out, the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg warns: "I consider the larger color screen superior to the Kindle’s, and encountered no eye strain. But the iPad is much heavier than the Kindle and most people will need two hands to use it.

"All in all... the iPad is an advance in making more-sophisticated computing possible via a simple touch interface on a slender, light device."

Writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, Andy Ihnatko gushed: "The most compelling sign that Apple got this right is the fact that despite the novelty of the iPad, the excitement slips away after about ten seconds and you’re completely focused on the task at hand, whether it’s reading a book, writing a report, or working on clearing your Inbox.

"Second most compelling: in situation after situation, I find that the iPad is the best computer in my household and office menagerie. It’s not a replacement for my notebook, mind you. It feels more as if the iPad is filling a gap that’s existed for quite some time." ®

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