I just bought my wife an iPad. I have to admit I've been very skeptical of this device, especially once it became clear what its limitations are; no multi-tasking, no flash, restricted to app-store programs.
But I still went out and bought it for her, because in the end, I was blown away with how smooth the UI is. For folks who have seen an iphone, I'll just say this - it is not the same. On a small scale, I don't think multitouch is all that important. It is one of the reasons I have an Android phone, not an iPhone.
But on a large hand held screen? Smooth as glass zooming with mutitouch is a revelation.
I still don't like the restrictions apple imposes, and I don't like the lack of several key features (USB ports, Camera, SD Ram) but this thing still impresses.
Here are the reasons why:
Kindle/iBooks/(probably soon) Barnes and Noble ereader. I think I would still rather read page after page on the kindle, because of its eink screen. But the iPad's screen is damn big, and with multiple options for ereading, a very nice solution. I haven't read any PDFs on it yet, but I'm guessing this will be a joy for technical documentation.
iTunes integration. I cited Apple's lock-in as a downside, but at least this negative has one good upside. Media from iTunes is right there. You can buy (and I assume rent) from the device, without using a computer. The amount of content on the iTunes store is unparalleled. Perfect for a traveler or mass transit commuter...
Comic Zeal 4 is the iPad comic reader. Now, to be fair, there are better comic readers on Linux, Windows, Mac, you name it. BUT with the form factor of the iPad, and a comic book reader that lets you read your own CBR/CBZ files? Sold. And I do mean "sold". This app currently costs $7.99. Which honestly feels pretty steep. But what are you going to do? This is an apple product after all. You will be spending money...
Did I mention Apps? Yeah, there are a ton of em. For pretty much anything you might want. Of course a lot of those things probably should come in the web browser (youtube, abc.com and netflix for example) but at least those apps are free. Coming from the (relatively) limited selection of apps for Android, the amount of options in the app store is nice to see.
At the end of the day, this is a very nice unit. I have every faith that there will be a comparable Android based tablet in the very near future, and I may even get that for myself. But even if that device were to have a comparable screen with smooth multitouch, the lack of ready to go software could be a problem. Right now there is no Kindle app for Android. No Netflix app. No movie rental service (that I'm aware of). You get the idea.
I still prefer my android phone to the iphone, but for tablets, Android may be fighting an uphill battle for me. Right now there are very few android tablets on the market, and yes, I have worked with some. But these devices are not in the same class as the iPad, so comparisons aren't fair, at least not yet. Once the Android competition enters the ring this summer, then we will see.