So I went to the apple store one Saturday to take a look at the new iPad's. I hadn't pre-ordered one and wasn't sure if I would end up getting one rig away or wait for a newer model/price drop. After playing with one for a bit and asking some questions I ended up buying the 16GB model with no accessories. What follows are my impressions of the device, mu thoughts on some of the criticisms, and some things I hope to see in the future.
First off let me say hat I run OSX at home and have an first generation iPhone as well. I like apple products for their reliability and usability. I don't have a laptop so I was looking for a portable device that I could use at home and on the go for web surfing and personal uses. I get by with my phone for that now but it is rather slow when it comes to web browsing And the smaller screen limits some of it's usefulness. This is where I am coming from and what I was hoping to find with the iPad. I found the iPad to be very responsive and the larger display to be stunning. The Apple applications are top notch as one would expect though the third party apps are somewhat limited of of yet. It is obvious that some developers have grasped the new user interface that Apple has created and some have not.
As for some of the criticisms of the device, first off. It is not a laptop, it's not a net book, stop with the "you could get a laptop for cheaper". Net book is cheaper yes, but a sub $500 net book is going to have a tiny screen, limited system resources, and run Windows. This type of device is in my mind a lot more hassle and a lot less useful then the iPad and iPhone OS. Furthermore if I were to get a full laptop it would be attest $1200 for a nice MacBook. Again I tend to avoid Windows and a $500-800 Windows laptop isn't going to have the same lifetime as my tablet. As for the lack of a camera, you wouldn't want to use this to take pictures and video conferencing would be nifty but not realistic. The iPad is much more useful as a tool during communications then a provider of it. I'm sure it is a feature they will add but Its just not a must have. As far as background processing goes, put it to bed already. So the iPhone OS doesn't allow background processing. I'd rather have a stable and secure device then find out half way through the day my batter is dead because I left so e stupid app running in the background. The push notification system provide a lot of the user interaction with minimal power consumption. The only service that I have found that would really benefit from background processing is instant messaging.
As far as my hopes for the future there are a few things in the works that I expect in the 4.0 release and some third party apps I hope to see. Background processing for one is currently in testing for the 4.0 release. I would also like to see build in support for printing to network printers instead of needing third party apps. Hulu will be a nice eater once they release their app as will some better google integration. As for things I hope to see. I would really like an app to view and even manage the shared iPhoto/Aperture libraries on my Mac. This would be nice so I Could play slideshows of all my photos without needing to sync over multiple gigabytes of photos. The ability to manage the metadata of these libraries would also be a killer feature. The same thing would be nice for video content, that is the ability to browse the network and play video content back that did t come from iTunes, many even with xvid/mkv support. This is more of a pipe dream but I can hope. Finally I hope to see a wireless sync/media streaming feature from Apple like the AppleTV supports and better controls over automatic downloads and updates of applications and subscriptions.
All in all I like the iPad and am glad I bought it, though there are some minor problems and a lot of opportunities that can all be addressed with software updates and the rid part applications. As an aside I wrote this entire review and posted it from my iPad with minimal effort.