A lot of the articles I’ve read talk about the iPad as a ‘game changer’. I can’t list each individual article, but I like to visit Hacker News and Techmeme for quick snapshots. My dislike for AAPL aside, I have to agree. For me, the biggest deal about this device is that the iPad is the first popular tablet that is truly *all* about touch. What am I talking about? Take a look at most of the PC tablets out there. Most of them have those special pens that are used for writing on the screen. This has been an acceptable practice, but thanks to the iPad, the status quo is being challenged to evolve or die. 😛 Many of the programs available on PC tablets are geared towards using the mouse/keyboard way of things. This is great if you don’t want to spend money all over again on getting apps with touch functionality, BUT with the advent of the iPad, the difference (lack of programs that use the touch tablet screen for interacting) is clear. In the PC world, there hasn’t been much developer effort into creating applications on PC tablets that use the monitor as the main means of interacting as the PC tablet ‘way’ has been: using special pens, Wacom tablets, etc. The iPad has revived the concept of using the monitor as the tool for communicating with your computer and instead of going halfway like PC tablets, the iPad shows that it *can* be done. Of course, AAPL had the devilishly good sense to create their market for touchscreen apps by unleashing the iPhone and knowing that it would not be a hard leap to make from developing for the iPhone to developing for the iPad. The ‘good’ news is now that there is a clear demand (even though the demand is being driven by people who are already Mac users as apparently 74% of iPad buyers already owned a Mac device), there’ll be more effort in the PC world to improve on the Tablet PC situation. I was initially bemused at the hordes of people so interested in this prettily caged device, but I’m even happier at the research & innovation it hopefully inspires in PC makers.
On the question of buying or not, simply put, Generation 1 devices pretty much use you as a guinea pig. Apple will implement most of the major gripes in the next version. If you don’t have a smartphone or laptop or netbook, definitely play with one. You will need to plonk down at least $200 (in addition to the $499 pricetag for the 16GB version) to get yourself truly ready to use the iPad as a laptop-replacement i.e. $40 for a case, a bluetooth keyboard, stands, other accessories etc so the price is potentially that of a relatively expensive laptop. So, the decision is up to you. 🙂