It's great for academics. I used to have piles of journal articles all over my office, organized more-or-less by their relevance to one of my projects. Since getting the iPad, I haven't printed out a single article. There are tons of good PDF reader apps (I use PDFExpert) that let you highlight and take notes like you would with a hard copy. The apps syncs with Dropbox, so it's easy to keep an organized repository (with all my notes) on all of my devices.
Like other posters, I do find the iPad has limited work value because of the largely "consume only" model. And I am constantly annoyed by Apple's blatant strategy for dominating content. However the iPad is a much easier and more intimate way to share photos and music than either a laptop (too cumbersome) or an iPhone (with its small display)—especially for older people with less-than-perfect vision and hearing. During the last few weeks of his life, when my father was in a nursing home and had great difficulty communicating, I would set up my newly acquired iPad on his table in the dining hall and run short iPhoto slide shows of family members. With the large display, he was easily able to recognize faces, certainly much better than he could have on an iPhone, and he often smiled. On iTunes, I would also play some of his old favorites: Sinatra and Ella. With small, portable speakers, the sound is decent—better than an iPhone or a laptop—and again the large display makes it much easier for me to select tunes. Of course I could have done the same thing with a laptop, but in reality they are WAY more cumbersome to carry, plug in, and set up, so I never bothered. On the sentimental strength of this use alone, I love my iPad.
The iPad is like a Swiss Army knife ... without any blades.
You're missing all of the fun. What I love most about Apple products is the proprietary nature of all of the apps I can buy for it. I love being restricted to buying all of my content from Apple. I love not being able to use certain applications because they don't meet Steve Jobs' exacting standards. I love paying 3-4 times as much for a product that is, at best, marginally better than the competition.
I wish I could write a thoughtful reply, but I am typing this on iPad, and that thing is only good for reading, certainly not for editing which is required for anything thoughtful. I am with you—it's an expensive toy. I have it only because my software has to work on that puppy.
Everyone I know who carries around an iPad is also carrying around a laptop right next to it.
I like the hands-free nature of my laptop, that it can just sit on an object in front of me, a table, my lap, the arm of my couch, and I don't have to torque my body to see it laying there. Someone gave me the iPad as a gift, and I promptly returned it. I felt bad because that person had spent a whole lot of money and really thought I'd love it. I should have—on paper, I look like the target audience, I'm a tech person, in my middle thirties, consume all kinds of digital media. I just don't have room for it in my life. I already have an iPhone, a laptop, and a Kindle.
I just don't need any more distracting toys anymore. In fact, what I need is the exact opposite. I need to be working, and when I'm at work, I need to feel busy and actually BE busy. When I'm not, I need to be outside, getting some fresh air, meeting with real people and having real conversations that are more demanding, or interacting meaningfully with my still young children. I need to cook and eat real dinners, at a table like in my kitchen or dining room, watch a little TV again without tuning out with my laptop and half paying attention and forgetting what I was even watching. If I go out to a restaurant, I don't want to check scores compulsively like a smoker waiting for that next cigarette break, and if I'm at a movie, I don't want to FB how good/bad it is WHILE I'm in the theater. Sheesh, what I really need to do is unplug and live a little (ok, a lot) more in the nondigital world.
What I need is an antiPad.
The "Steve Jobs wants my money for everything" problem is exactly why the iPad is dumb. At least on a smart phone, you can make calls and write emails easily. The iPad is a $600 cover charge to a "Pay-As-You-Go" universe.
You're basically buying the right to buy more stuff.
As far as I can see from my experience with people who have purchased iPads, the iPad is a toy for people who already own laptops and have an extra $1,000 or so lying around and have no idea how to spend it.
I like to sit on my couch and watch Netflix on it even though there's a 46" LCD right in front of me. I like to use the word processing software even though it takes ten times longer than using a real keyboard because my desktop computer is all the way in the next room. I like to use the shiny back as mirror to check myself out. I like to look at the pretty colors on the screen. It also makes a really futuristic looking paperweight. It's so cute and shiny.
Kim Zoot Holmes
To me, it's all about the size of my purse. I can carry the Kindle and the iPhone in my purse, not the iPad. Therefore, the iPad would have to offer a lot of bonus functionality (outside my iPhone and Kindle) to get me to carry it around too. And at home? I consider my MacBook superior because, what it lacks in portability, it makes up for in added functionality.
In other words? Thank you for helping me justify why I haven't bought one yet.
Most of what everyone is raving about I can do on my far far cheaper netbook. Plus it has a keyboard. I do wish the battery lasted longer, and an iPad would be more comfortable for reading in bed but I only make it about 10 minutes anyway before passing out.
My favorite iPad headscratcher occurred when MC Hammer brought his on Oprah to show off a product his company had produced for it. It was an iPad case and it included a little keyboard. The audience gasped in awe when he demonstrated it. A portable computer with a keyboard! Can you imagine?