A leap in the right direction
I've now spent the better part of a day playing with the new iPad, and while it excels in many things there are still some things anyone considering buying one should probably keep in mind.
First the good sides:
This thing is very fast, opening and closing applications is quick, the screen is incredibly responsive, there is no lag while typing, and the built in Safari browser does a great job of quickly loading even graphic intense pages.
The not so good sides:
As has been thoroughly pointed out, there is not presently much in the way of multitasking within the iPhone OS, but with most expectations pointing towards a summer release of OS 4.0 this might be remedied by mid summer, and almost certainly by a generation 2 release. That said, it should be kept in mind that on such a little screen being able to view multiple applications at once will likely never be something you'll use, and the speed by which you can open and close applications makes this less a headache than you might think. It isn't as fast as moving between open apps, but it isn't a deal breaker by any means. The lack of a camera in this generation is a little surprising, while I've purchased my iPad already, I honestly believe that with the number of competitors expected over the course of 2010 we're probably going to see a generation 2 by Christmas with a camera. It's still an amazing device, but the ability to video chat with it would definitely put it over the top, that's a feature worth waiting for. The lack of Flash support isn't as irritating as I expected it to be, but still something to consider. Many major sites have evolved to html5, or are in the process of doing so. This allows for full viewing by the Safari browser, and where it exists, it works great. The remaining sites still using Flash show up with annoying little boxes looking for a plugin that is likely never going to exist. If you spend a lot of time on flash heavy sites it really probably is worth considering holding out to see how the Slate/Android Tablets look in a few months, but if you're mostly just e-mailing and checking facebook (no Farmville) the lack of Flash support probably won't bother you too much.
As a laptop replacement:
The inclusion of the iWorks utilities gives this device a little bit of a laptop personality. Don't let that persuade you into believing that you don't need a computer though. You might be able to get away with ditching a laptop if all you really do is e-mail or very light word processing, but if you do anything more than that you'll like the freedom and ease a full computer offers for more complex tasks. That said, this device is a tremendous leap towards a future tablet style device that may very well be a replacement for your computer, but for now it is more of a casual use device than something you can really expect to do substantial work with. I have put together a presentation in keynote, which was easy enough to do, but pages isn't as intuitive as I'd have liked, and taking lengthy notes or writing long letters/e-mails/reports will probably make it worth considering buying either the keyboard dock or the wireless bluetooth keyboard.
Battery life seems to live up to the claims, I managed to get about 7 hours before getting the 20% remaining battery life indication, which puts it about right for 10 hours or so of total use. One very important thing to realize about charging the device is that presently (at launch) there is some issues with charging via USB from many computers. The iPad is different than other iPod products, it requires a bit more power to charge up, and unfortunately most USB ports aren't set up to support that higher power draw. This is something that may be fixed in a firmware update to allow for a slower charge, or it may simply be that you'll need to either rely on a new Mac (seems like they can handle the power issue) or rely on the wall charger. Just don't be surprised if you plug it into your computer and it doesn't show that it is charging.
All in all, the iPad is an impressive device that might make for a reasonable replacement of a netbook for casual users. For people who need something to really do a lot of work on, you may find that for the price that a netbook or laptop still offers the better value for your needs. Future generations of this device will probably transition into fitting that market better than this first generation. However, if you're an avid reader, casual gamer, music fan, who doesn't do much more on the web than check a few sites, and e-mail. This thing is definitely worth considering! If you're on the fence, nothing about this product is so incredible as to justify running out and buying one right now, but it is worthy of your consideration if you're thinking you might like a tablet style device. I definitely would encourage you to go play with one at best buy or an apple store to get a feel for it. With a number of competitors due out over the next few months we're likely to see some price movement, or a second generation release, so it may be worth it to wait it out a little while.
One final note, the screen is absolutely gorgeous while it is turned on. It is crisp, bright, and very easy to see from any angle. But when you turn it off, every finger print and swipe is suddenly very visible (while it is on the light is bright enough you don't see them fingerprints). If you are a neat freak, or just hate finger prints on your devices you'll have to invest in some microfiber cloths or get used to using your shirt sleeve!
In conclusion, it's a lot of fun, and I'm not the least bit sorry to have bought one. It does many things, and over the next months will do many more. If you think you want one, go play with one, and if you don't want to wait for a next generation this one is definitely awesome. If you have specific needs that aren't really addressed in this generation or by apple, don't let the hype or peer pressure bully you into this one, there are a number of devices coming with great potential, one of those might be a better fit. More Reviews