I played with an iPad for a few minutes at Red Rock in Mountain View, and since everyone else to talking about it, I might as well too.
It’s a big wireless touch screen display. That’s how you have to think of it. It’s not a “big iPod Touch,” anymore than an SUV is just a big Chevette. Big isn’t just better, it’s different.
It’s not a replacement for the laptop or the desktop, since you can’t type long on it. It’s an addition. It’s for when you want to browse the Internet, and a laptop is too much. It’s for when you want to lookup something on IMDB while watching television. It’s for reading PDFs or finishing tweaking a presentation on a plane. It’s a device a for consumption, not creation. As commenter BadUncle put it on the Awl, “Steve Jobs has reinvented the clipboard.” (An iPad would have been perfect for all the years I helped my dad do end of year paint inventory.)
Do I want one? I’m kind of ambivalent about it. I’d use one if I was given one, but I can’t imagine using it enough to be worth $500. It’s a toy. It’s a better looking Chumby.
Does it foretell a dystopian future of locked down computers? Maybe. I can see the AppStore model being expanded into the traditional software market, and I really really do not like the AppStore. I don’t have a problem with the existence of the store. It provides a list of apps to download. I even don’t have a problem with Apple vetting the apps in the store. That’s useful for users. These apps are safe. Fine. What I don’t like is that there’s no other way to distribute applications for the iPhone and iPad except through the AppStore. That’s what really bugs me. That and the hypocritical and schizophrenic application of Apple’s rules, and that if AT&T or some other “strategic partner” doesn’t like your app, you’re shutdown. That’s telling me and my users how to use our machines. No one has that right.
So in conclusion, I give it a warm maybe.