After a few days living with the iPad I thought I would jot down some initial observations. I think I'll stop short of an overall conclusion and give it a few more days to sink in.
First off, the entire use case is much more compelling than I originally suspected. I bought the device largely as an experiment as I think potential 'new paradigms'' need to be experienced rather than talked about. My original feeling was that the sweet spot for me was to use at home between getting home from work and going to bed. My laptop is a pain to bust out (and is hot) and my primary home computer is in the basement. I use my iPhone to read and respond to email but the iPhone is a better reading device than responding device.
For this use case the iPad is perfect. It has completely replaced the iPhone during this phase of my day. The first observation I have, that I suppose should be obvious, is that its much better than a laptop for this activity than I thought as it is instant on (like the iPhone). You tend to dismiss that as a quality as you think of the iPad like a laptop, rather than a handheld. Instant on is so important to the use case that it makes laptops seem retarded.
Also of notice to me is how nice the iPad meshes with the home entertainment experience. Not, in terms of interoperability but rather 'media'. As someone in the IT world, you don't really notice how 'bare' the pure web experience is until you install apps like the Bloomberg for the iPad or Weather Channel. The fluid capabilities of these kinds of Apps mesh with the production quality of shows you watch in HD at on your large screen TV. I think this may be the heart of the new paradigm for the iPad. As a point of reference, I was looking in the iPad app store and noticed an app that you run while watching Formula 1 Racing on TV. It shows in awesome graphics the current lineup during the race with split times, etc. This is huge. I suspect within 18 months every major live sporting event will have a live companion app for the iPad. This is the heart of the new paradigm.
Another unexpected emotion I found was having the same interface on my computer-like-device and my handheld phone. It's nice having the two work the same. As Forest Gump would say, "One less thing".
On the down side, the iPad suffers from the same frustration I have with all Apple devices. iTunes is the worst piece of software ever released. It's nice I can buy apps without the computer but it's completely frustrating that I can't just drag files onto the iPad (or iPhone). Please, just set me free from this abomination. I think a lot of the the problems will go away when Dropbox ports its iPhone app to the iPad. Dropbox is elegant, just works, and is the killer app for iPad. Hurry guys, I'm dying here.
Others are all bent out of shape about not being able to install apps outside the App Store. I actually don't care about jail breaking the device. I think the app store is a great answer to problems of viruses and I don't find it to be a problem at all. However, my data is another matter. Dude, just let me throw a photo on there without the sync from hell.
iPad has the ability to create a new place in the world. Can it replace my laptop on travel? Not sure, still figuring that out.