I do like the iPad. I think its a new category of device. Fat iPod is a visual description but I think it does the device a disservice. I can't count the number of times I've talked to people that have gone to a dual monitor on their computer. It changes their workflow, they feel more productive, etc.... Technically that's just a fatter computer but it's made them use it in a different way.
I have the same feeling about the iPad. It's a dual screen iPhone and it's going to trigger different uses and workflows. Things you don't even think of until you have it in hand.
Most specifically what the iPad ISN'T is it isn't designed to replace any device you have now. It's not an iPhone replacement (or even an iPod Touch replacement). It's not a laptop replacement. I've even seen it said that it'll fail because it doesn't replace an XBox. Well duh it's not an XBox. Neither is a netbook, neither is a laptop, neither is a Mac Pro.
I think everything left out that people complain about was left out on purpose because it actually made the product worse. Given that the original iPhone was called the Safari Pad (http://arstechnica.com/apple/news/2008/03/safari-pad-tech-used-to-create-iphone.ars) it's obvious Apple has been working on this for a long time. My guess is they made lots and lots of prototypes and tried them extensively and if it was awkward or not working, out it went.
The use case I see for this is when you are sitting down. Recliner, couch, airplane seat, less so an office chair (unless next to the monitor of your "real" computer). iPad will spend most of it's time in your hands. Next most common will be propped up (probably by the case), the dock less than that (I'm sure there are people that will dock it with the keyboard and leave it that 24/7 but I think this will be rare outside the blogging/writer adopters.)
I also think this device will be left at home far more than smaller devices. I'll leave it on the arm of the couch when I go to work. Unless it works alot better for taking notes from the virtual keyboard then I'm picturing, I don't think i'll take to meetings with me (I do take notes on my iPod Touch). When I travel I definitely take it. For business travel I'll take it WITH my work laptop, not instead of. For personal travel I think it will be sufficient on it's own. At the bar, restaurant,
bathroom I still use my iPod Touch.
Most common complaints I see are:
- No phone - duh, it's a 10" device. You don't want to put this up to your face (by the way, I believe VOIP will work on the device.)
- No back facing camera for taking pictures. Really? You want to pull out a 10" device to take pictures. Give me a break. Your phone is faster and more portable.
- No foward facing camera. I thought about this one for awhile. On the surface it makes sense for things like iChat and Skype, but think about my use cases. If the most common use case is sitting down with the iPad in your hand, it's going to be in your lap. A camera would be angled straight up your nose. Even if you're tilting your head down the angle makes your head look huge. Next use case is propped up on a table. In landscape mode the camera would point at your chest (unless you angle it back more, then you're back to up the nose.) Portrait mode, on a dock might work, but unless you're very short I think this camera would shoot. your chin. To me a video chat works best with the camera at eye level. Which is a rare position for the iPad.
- USB/firewire/HDMI - I don't want cables dangling all around me on the couch. The camera connection adds a USB to connect a camera will be curious to see how useful this is.
- No 1080p - duh, the device is 10". 1080p at 10" is stupid waste of disk space, and you're already limited to at most 64 GB on
- Only up to 64GB memory - it's thin and cheapish device. More memory is expensive, and the device has to be thicker, and heavier. This one will change over time. I'll never argue against more space (my iTunes library is over 500 GB, so the more I can put on a portable the happier I am).
- No tethering from iPad to iPhone - this would be nice to avoid another data charge. I'm hoping for a wifi tethering mode in a future iPhone OS (similar to mifi functionality.) I'm guessing this was more a carrier decision than an Apple decision. I'd also like to tether to the iPad if it has 3G.
So what I see is Apple has come up with a nice device that supplements your other devices. It isn't designed to replace any of them, especially not combinations of them. Apple wants to sell lots of devices so their design is specifically set to be an additional device, not a replacement for existing ones. I can clearly see a use for Computer, iPhone/iPod Touch, and an iPad as a group of devices. Those whining it isn't awesome because it doesn't let them dump their existing devices don't know what they're talking about.