What the iPad is, is more or less exactly what everybody thought it was going to be: a combination touchscreen computer lite/Ereader that looks cooler, both in terms of the product and what's on its screen, than the rest of 'em.
What the iPad is, is a great big iPhone without the phone (which I guess would make it a great big iPod Touch) that lets you use office-type applications when you're not Facebooking and Google Mapping and watching movies and playing games and reading and e-mailing photos.
And the world of smartphones and netbooks and Kindles and digital media centers needs this why, exactly? Because we're tired of watching YouTube on that tiny little phone screen while we're in the crapper?
Look, I love Apple products. There are two Apple computers and three iPods in our house. Our music gets stored and played in iTunes. Our WiFi gets broadcast by an AirPort. I admire the company's designs, its focus on a balance between gorgeous style and ease of use. And both the iPad and the applications made for it, like iBooks and iWork, look stunning.
Yes, it's a nifty little new lifestyle accessory. And yes, I want one, OK? If somebody gave me one of these $500 gadgets when they begin shipping in 60 days, I would use it. I would carry it around with me everywhere, and find ways to show people I had by saying stuff like, "oh, you haven't seen that video? Check it out" and "wait, I think I've got a photo of it on this thing."
But I don't think it's going to bring any more convenience or quality to my life or my work than the few gadgets I've already got afford me. And I have serious questions regarding the iPad's ability to revolutionize the way we consume media to the extent Steve Jobs seems so confident it will.
On the other hand, maybe there are a lot more people out there with an extra $500 and a desire to own the coolest, most expensive way to check IMDB.com to see where they remember that guy on that show from and masturbate to porn in the bathroom without leaving magazines lying around than I think.
See more images of the iPad here.