There's no denying that the iPad is a neat device. That doesn't mean that everyone should go drop $500+ on one. I haven't had firsthand experience with the iPad, but here are some of my thoughts based on feedback from iPad owners.
On the positive side
- The iPad is a beautifully designed device
- The 1GHz Apple A4 processor delivers stunning performance
- The 25-watt-hour battery delivers remarkable battery life.
- It makes a good indoor e-book reader (especially with the Kindle app)
- The color screen makes the iPad perfect for reading e-magazines and comics
- I can see some potentially great educational uses for a device like this
- The large screen makes it a great video player
On the down side
- The iPad is quite heavy (some people have more problems with this than others do)
- No multitasking (until this Fall with iPhone OS 4.0)
- No flash (this could be less of an issue with HTML5, but I still think flash support should at least be an optional feature)
- Limited Functionality - the only functional differences I see between the iPad and the iPod Touch (when iPhone OS 4.0 is released) are the larger screen, 802.11a/n, and 3G.
- The screen is highly reflective and difficult to read outdoors
- The on-screen keyboard is akward and difficult to use
- The bluetooth keyboard is slow to connect
- Some people have had wifi connection issues with certain routers
The biggest problem I have with it is the limited functionality for the size and price. I already have an iPod Touch and a netbook. I don't see myself carrying an iPad anywhere except on trips where I wouldn't be driving. If I traveled a lot, I could see a device like this being more desirable for watching movies on the larger screen. However, if I'm traveling for business, I'm probably going to need the development applications on my netbook anyway. I would also use it for reading, but I am satisfied using the kindle app on my iPod Touch and the computer. If the iPad was a fully functioning computer, I would be a lot more interested. Even if I felt like I could easily afford to buy the iPad, I still can't justify the $500 price tag considering how little I would use it. The HP Slate is a completely different story though, because it is actually a keyboard-less tablet-pc running Windows 7.
I would say that most people do not need the iPad, however Apple does tend to have a way of making people want their products. If you have the money for it and will actually use it enough to justify the cost, then by means, get one. For the rest of us, there are so many better ways to spend $500.