Here's my quick and dirty on the iPad... I have queried everyone I trust, lovers and haters alike, and this is my take. I am racing to get this out before the Market closes here in NYC, so forgive my haste.
The price point at $499 is also spot on. I suspect by using their own multicore processor (called the A4) Apple saves a significant amount of money on one of the single most expensive elements that makes up the iPads bill of goods.
Users, The Pros:
We want it, but secretly know that with our iphone, macbook, imac trio, we are covered, so it is a pure luxury good for us until the macbook needs a refresh. However, if you're already a Kindle user or ebook wannabe, then I think the iPad is for you straight away, no questions asked. But I personally hate ebooks, or at least every version of an ebook I have every tried.
That said, with the dock/keyboard accessory, I could see a $499 iPad being the extra computer in the living room or kitchen with almost no thought at all and most my friends do too. The iPad could become a goto secondary terminal for many, many nerds. Especially those users ready to admit they personally never do any heavy document creation on the road anyway and rather enjoy media.
Users, The Unwashed Masses:
What I describe as a secondary computer for nerds above could easily also fill the gap for people who need a cheap computer for the basics, but all current cheap laptops are as underpowered and slow as they are bulky and heavy. I know my 14 year old sister's book bag weighs her down enough as is, poor girl looks like some sort of very cute, yet deformed ladybug, backpack sagging to the ground, shoulder straps strained to the limit. In this case, an iPad could offers her enough computing power and light form factor that she would more than welcome one with open arms. And with over 140k+ apps already available at launch, there is zero argument that it is not capable enough for the role. Maybe too capable, she plays enough doodle jump, flight control, finger maze and field runners on her iPod touch as is.
iWorks (apples "office") looks very very strong on the new iPad and with touch gestures I could see it being a solid work tool to get you thru edits and document reviews and with the optional keyboard, actual document creation.
iBooks (apples "kindle") also looks very good. Only time will tell, but I know some converts to ebooks and they love it. eBooks are not for me, but there are die-hard lovers out there.
The entire app store eco-system carries thru onto the iPad with no re-coding by developers. 140k apps, most $1.99 or less, for almost any need and new apps just for the iPads larger screen format. Again, this could be a huge selling point. Quick, cheap productivity.
10hrs of continuos use and a 30 day standby is very good. Apple has been working on managing power consumption across all their product lines in an effort to meet and exceed Energy Star standards for some time. It's my guess that the new Apple A4 in-house muilt-core processor will prove to be far more efficient than many suspect.
Update Jan 2010: it is a ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore (identical to the processor in the nVidia Tegra and Qualcomm Snapdragon), a ARM Mali 50-series GPU, and a memory controller all on one die.
Apples stock took a dip at 1:18pm, this is the exact same moment Steve announced AT&T was the iPad's wireless partner. Coincidence, who knows?
The GOOD, no contract, month to month, unlocked GSM.
The BAD, it's not Verizon (I thought I would never say that one).
The UGLY, if the networking sucks, AT&T further muddy's Apple's waters.
This blows me away, I am already loving the games on my iphone, imagine them in HD with a processor twice the power (1GHz). Forget a Xbox, you won't need it. Several people could have a multiplayer network party, each on their own iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch for that matter, at their desks. The sudden replacement of the dedicated gaming terminal for multiplayer gaming with an HD iPad could be a big selling point for some people and is a part of the story that can't be ignored. EA is making some of the best iPhone games out there (TigerWoods Gold, Madden NFL, Need For Speed) and will have a lasting positive impact on the iPads success.
Large HD movies, TV shows, music and books. I took a movie on my iPhone on the plane once and almost went blind, I will never by a movie to watch on an iphone again, but I could see many people buying a movie to watch at home and syncing it to an iPad to watching it on the plane. The larger format makes mobile movies a reality, something that never happened on the iPhone.
What to expect next year?
A camera in the iPad to do video conferencing and mass acceptance that you may not need a laptop as much as you though after all and finally, expansion of multi-touch controls to the laptop and desktop product lines.
Update Feb 2010:
Not everyone will be sold on the iPad at first, this is a new market and if people
can't do enough, well enough, they may not forgo full laptops in the end after all. That said, each and every single person in my network, lovers and haters alike have clearly stated, they all want one to play with and at $499 the price is defiantly within striking range for an impulse buy if this bit of kit fits the bill.
The iPhone may have been Apples first run at multi-touch, but the iPad represents Apples future vision for full screen multi-touch and their attempt to revolutionize the user experience yet again and create a compelling mobile experience that, in Steve's own words, is "magical". Now, I am not sure it is magical, but if it is good enough to get me out of my Aeron chair and over to the lounge to do my morning reading (1 - 2hrs worth) with no discomfort, eye or hand wise, I know I am sold. In short, I think this is another solid win for Apple and another nail in the coffin for the rest.
Update Jan 2010: Found this amusing iPad correlation to Star Trek TNG...