Because I like to read about technology and because I am a geek, I've been hearing a lot about them, including full-on debates about their merits and drawbacks well before anyone outside of the Apple development group even knew what the thing was going to look like.
And I have to tell you: I'm confused.
So this... thing is like a lightweight tablet computer. Okay, other companies have had those out for a while, except those companies include a keyboard.
But, so I'm told, it's not about the feature set. It's about what you can do with it.
The early adopters have all been blogging about how the iPad can be used to watch movies, listen to music, surf the web, read books. The ads I've seen are big on that last one, although the bloggers I read seem to be doing more movie-watching. Actually, most of the iPad-owning bloggers I read just seem to be chanting "Shiny! Shiny! SHINY!" at the moment, kind of like in that issue of The Tick where the bad guy hypnotises The Tick by placing that chrome apple in front of him and.... hey. Chrome. Apple. Hypnosis. I never picked up on that before.
But I'm still confused.
If I want to watch movies, I watch them on my TV set. My TV set can play all the file formats the iPad can (and more) thanks to the media box I have plugged into it. If I'm travelling I watch movies on my Nokia tablet. Yeah, the screen is smaller than the iPad's, but it's dead sharp and the gadget weighs less than half of what the iPad does. If I'm on a long trip, I might have my laptop with me, and that has a bigger screen than the iPad, although since I own a biggish laptop yes, it does weigh more.
If I want to listen to music, I can use that media box again if I'm in my living room, or use my Nokia tablet if I'm not. If I'm on the go, I don't want to listen to music on something that is too big and heavy to hold comfortably in one hand for long, sorry. Ideally I want something that tucks into a pocket or small purse.
If I want to surf the net... you get the idea. I just don't see what this thing is for, besides fleecing consumers.
Maybe if someone owns a netbook and they want to replace it with something a bit flashier... I could see a market existing there. Netbooks are often sort of alternative computers, backed up by the real thing. The iPad matches them (kind of) in weight and form factor.
Otherwise, I can't really see why it exists.