I bought an iPad2 (WiFi-only 16GB model) back in September. It's been a mixed experience. But, in spite of my flaming hate of crApple and most everything they represent, I kinda like the device. It's pretty clear it's a consumer
device, though, in a lot of aspects.
The iPad is used mainly for light surfing and eBook reading, and the occasional game of Mahjong. It's a pretty expensive device for those needs, and even taking all it's capabilities into consideration I'd say it's grossly overpriced (~650 USD here in Denmark).
So, why an iPad? I seriously considered a Kindle, since they're craploads cheaper and the e-ink technology is better for reading (easier on your eyes, better viewing angles, no glare problems, et cetera) and has much longer battery lifetime. However, I had a chance to play around with a Kindle, and it just isn't very comfortable when dealing with tech books and needing to page back and forth - the physical dimension of the screen doesn't match most tech books, and PDF doesn't reflow. And screen updates are sloooow (comfortable enough for reading-a-page-and-advancing-to-next, but not flip-flopping).
In addition to that, the project I'm currently working at requires a 2x1-hour train commute a couple times a week, and the train is really too cramped for laptop use to be comfortable - a netbook wouldn't be much better. A tablet is perfect in that situation; I can catch up on non-work related web browsing to and from work while there's network coverage (WiFi hotspot feature of the work-provided Android phone is nice!), and eBook reading or Mahjong when there's no network.
With the attempt at justification out of the way, a look on the good and bad.
The good includes the instant
on, and instant-on-network feature. This might sound like a small thing, but it's a deal-changer really. There's a lot of situations where I'd either be annoyed at having to turn on a computer, or miss out on an "information opportunity", where it's just so fast and easy to grab the ipad and check something out. Works wonders when having discussions in bed, wikiepedia/google/imbd/whatver to the rescue and an argument (or just plain curiosity) is settled.
For a fair amount of situations involving travelling, I enjoy having access to the internet - but don't really need a fully capable computer. An iPad is a lot smaller and lighter than a netbook or laptop, and fullfills the basic needs. This does matter when your backpack is fully stuffed and already pretty heavy before adding the internet-junkie-device
The physical build is nice. I've played around with a couple of android tablets, and they felt very flimsy (and were pretty slow) - and as expensive as the iPad. A real shame, I'd definitely enjoy a more open platform...
Stuff in general seems smooth and fast - gotta tip my hat to the graphics stack in iOS.
Now, the bad
#1 being the walled garden "we know what's best for you" approach, and the tie to crapTunes. Now, it may have been me doing something wrong, but I couldn't even get the thing to turn on before connecting it to a machine with crapTunes installed. And the registration process required
me to enter my VISA CC#, and the final step showed up in Spanish... yeah, crApple software is intuitive and just works, *cynical laugh*.
The UI is pretty incoherent, with different apps trying to look all snowflake unique. It's silly for iBooks and Newsstand (for instance) to try to look like physical places. Gimme something lean-and-mean without clutter and stupid textures, kthxbai.
The lack of multitasking. I can't play a youtube video in the background, neither in the dedicated youtube app nor an inline video on, say, facebook. Not even when staying in safari but simply browsing another tab.
Youtube is also pretty damn incoherent. Sometimes videos play inline. Sometimes they open the external youtube app. And sometimes they won't play at all (AFTER switching from safari to the youtube app) - of course because you've hit a flash-only video, which the pad doesn't support. Lack of flash & Java support doesn't bother me, but the scizophrenic user experience does.
Also, the lack of a "back to what I was doing before you launched this other thing" capability would be nice. Sometimes
the four-finger-drag gesture of iOS5 works, but often I find I have to press the "back to home screen" button and then launch safari again (which does remember the open tabs, at least).
But safari and open tabs... that's another issue. If you open too many tabs, it will simply silently close older tabs. No "launching a new tab will close old tab, proceed?" prompt or (more crApple-style, I guess) simply disallowing you to open more than N tabs. Nope, we silently kill your older tabs. Great intuitive design. Yeah, memory is limited, but you could at least keep the tab with just an URL reference and just reload content, you c*nts!
Content-reloading happens often, anyway. Not that big a deal, I can appreciate it's necessary when you have such limited memory, but it can seem a bit arbitrary just when
it happens. Sometimes I can read 4+ news articles and go back to an index page without reloads, sometimes everything reloads after reading one article.
On iOS4, Safari used to crash at least a couple of times a week. Sometimes just exiting without notice, sometimes freezing up and requiring me to hit the home button. With iOS5 it happens roughly once a week. SOLID SOFTWARE ENGINEERING THERE, crApple!
The official twitter client makes a bleep noise when updating, even when volume is turned all the way down. (I don't really use twitter, I just follow Notch and trent reznor and john carmack. Honestly. I'm not one of those
The way how everything is so... limited
sucks. No way to access your files, you're at the mercy of how crApple deems you should do things. Which means crapTunes. Or the occasional opportunity to email stuff, or send to dropbox, if you're lucky. Yay, having to transfer files to the interweb and back, instead of copying stuff locally across wifi... <3. And iCloud is also just a magic black box, no useful web interface that lets you get at your files. Dumbed down, locked-down, we-control-your-assets.
One of the reasons I bought the iPad in spite of all the locked-down-ness was because Stanza
provides a sane way to get your ebooks onto the ipad - pull from a Calibre server on your LAN via WiFi. And darn were I pissed when iOS5 broke Stanza
! I mean, come on, you've got a super-limited OS that only has to run on very specific hardware... and yet an OS upgrade breaks a user-mode program? I've got software written for Win95 that still runs on 64bit Win7... that's 14 years and major architectural differences under the hood, but still servicing a lot of the same software. And crApples platform has applications breaking for a relatively minor OS upgrade? Meh.
I think that's enough bile for now, might add more later when I bump into or remember other annoyances.
Even with all that, I haven't regretted buying the iPad. There's several days where I don't turn on my workstation or private laptop now, since I can fullfill surfing/mail/facebook/etc needs from the iPad (and thus don't get sidetracked with all the stuff present there (like... world of warcrack). I just wish the platform was more open, didn't hold your data hostage, and that it wasn't so ridiculously expensive.