Now that the iPad is out, here's my hands-on review:
1. It's simply a gorgeous piece of hardware. It's much better in reality than everything I saw in videos or ads. It's also a pleasure to use -- if you own an iPhone or iPod Touch already, you know how to use this. Even if not, it's very intuitive to learn.
2. The stock apps are very good -- much better than their iPhone counterparts: Calendar is really nice; I love the "paper flip" effect. The iPad size also makes it feel like a real appointment book. Email, Address book, Weather, etc. are all much nicer than the iPhone versions. Photo is nice. Safari works. Maps is AMAZING.
3. Most iPhone apps work just fine (obviously, the phone and video apps don't work since there's no phone on the iPad). The 2X scaling looks fine for most apps (Bejeweled looks great, actually; some games look fuzzy, however). So, basically all my previous investments are not wasted.
4. Many apps are coming up with two interfaces: iPhone and iPad. For example, the WeatherBug app is amazing on the iPad (and it's free!). SoundHound is GREAT. Zinio comes out with the iPad version for reading magazines -- it was kind of a joke on the iPhone since the screen is so small. I LOVE the new Kindle for iPad -- in fact, I prefer it to the iBook app (largely because I have many Kindle books).
5. Reading books, news and magazines is a delightful experience. OK, so it is backlit and it will tire you eyes out after some time, but you can actually read in the dark! As mentioned above, the Kindle for iPad works great. I also was able to convert my ms. to ePub format and download to the iPad. The GQ, AP News, NYT, USATodays, Time Magazine apps showcase how the iPad can revitalize the publishing industry -- the colors are so vivid and the interfaces are very good.
Oh, the Marvel Comic app is FANTASTIC. Reading graphic novels is never same again. Also, Zinio has an iPad app, too.
Also, with the PDF viewers, you can view any PDF files on the iPad. And size really matters.
6. Some must-have apps: WeatherBug and AccuWeather; Big Oven Pro (this is going to make the iPad a kitchen appliance!), ABC Player (for streaming your favorite ABC shows), Netflix (yes!), Kindle, iBook, SoundHound (if you think the iPhone app is great, try the iPad version!), Photogene, Marvel Comic, GoodReader (for reading PDFs and text files), TweekDeck, Wikipanion, Adobe Ideas (great for jotting down notes, drawing, etc. for your novels), iWork, Kayak.
7. I only bought Pages (I don't really need Numbers or Keynotes, right now,on the iPad since I already have iWork on my Mac), because I'd like to use the iPad as my portable computer 80% of the time. It works just fine, for simple writing and basic stuff. Don't expect to do complicated desktop publishing with it, but it should work just fine for writing novels, etc. But I can certainly see how a dock and BT keyboard would be very useful. Typing on the iPad is actually easier than on the iPhone, but still, it's good for the occasional email or web browsing, but not for writing a novel...
8. It's really fast. Everything responds so quickly. The wifi connection is really quick -- web pages come up almost instantaneously. Apps that use the wifi connection also are much more responsive than on my iPhone. Synching with my computer is very quick -- I was able to sync all my music, videos, photos, and apps in about 15 minutes. Overall, it just feels really fast.
9. Now the bad: the keyboard is better than the iPhone simply because it's bigger, but still it's harder to type on -- you will need a real keyboard if you want to do some serious typing.
No USB port -- but I don't see the problem... you can connect the cable to your computer and do things with iTune (or SSH/FTP), etc. And there will be adaptors for video, etc. in the future.
No flash: yes, that's a problem for some sites -- for example, my online banking site uses Flash, so I can't use it on the iPad. But for the most part, YouTube, etc. are fine, and they will have special apps for them. For example, Netflix and ABC stream videos just fine. Hulu is coming out with an iPad app, too. And many sites are now going to do HTML5, which the iPad supports.
No multitasking: for the most part, I don't find it a problem. It definitely is not a laptop where I will be surfing the web, writing a novel, listening to music, checking email all at the same time... still, it can be annoying. For example, I can't listen to Pandora and do something else. Granted, I can listen to the iPod while doing something else -- so my question is, if Apple can do it with their own app, why not 3rd party such as Pandora? But anyway, this is a minor annoyance.
No camera: I don't find that a problem at all. I am not going to use the iPad for video chat or conference. I also have an iPhone and a digital camera with me so to not have a camera on the iPad is not a deal-breaker at all. Would it be nice to have a camera on the iPad? You bet. But no big deal.
I am honestly quite crazy about this. I was able to go a full day yesterday with only the iPad (I left my laptop at home). It does just about everything I need to do, and does them beautifully. I really enjoyed reading books and magazines on it.