Now that the iPad's been out for a bit, I thought I'd share a few quick takes on my experience with it now that the novelty is wearing off.
Where it excels
It's amazing for gaming. Any time I show someone Real Racing HD, they look for the nearest Apple store (or search engine). I brought up some of the social gaming uses in an earlier column; Scrabble's brilliant. I'm a sucker for We Rule (username "berkowitz" if you play).
Video's beautiful. If I'm on a plane and want to watch one of my own movies, I'll do so – though I usually read when I'm not working in-flight.
It's not bad for checking email, especially if I don't want to boot up my computer. I'll get some of my news fix on there too – the screen is perfect for news articles.
Where it lags
My least favorite activity on it is reading. The glare is awful, and the backlit screen is nowhere nearly as easy to read as e-ink on the Kindle. I tried to read a full book on the iPad and gave up less than halfway through. Fortunately I bought the book through Amazon and read it on the Kindle iPad app. I switched over to my first generation Kindle, where I'm progressing through it, and enjoying the experience so much more even without the fancy page animations and easier navigation the iPad offers.
I also don't like the magazine apps I've tried on the iPad, such as GQ and Popular Science. They seemed to try too hard to produce an iPad-friendly experience when they likely would be much more readable just offering a digital version of the magazine. Maybe someone else will get the design right in time, though as noted above, I wouldn't want to read something cover to cover on there.
It's also not the best productivity device. I'm sure some tools will get better for blog posts and that sort of thing, but multitasking is so much easier on a PC, and typing's much faster and much more accurate on a PC. You can't touch-type on the iPad.
So where does that leave it?
It's a hybrid device.
If I was a college student, maybe I'd like it more, or as a parent with young children, it might be a great device to share with them.
It's very good at a lot of things, but not as useful as a computer or a mobile device for most others.
A nice to have? Definitely? It's fun, fast, and beautiful.
A need to have? Hardly. It will probably be gathering dust before long.