Apple's done it again.
I must admit I was skeptical about this product until I got my hands on it. I played with it for a good 20 minutes at the Apple Store yesterday and still won't buy it just yet (more on that in a moment), but this device is amazing.
The size is just right, the weight is just right, and it feels good to hold. But that's not all. Consider this:
If the iPad was just for video, it would be remarkable. As I watched a movie, the stunning HD display was a sight to behold, let alone when you put it in your hands, set it on a table, or prop it up. All those mini DVD players on the market just took a major hit. This has Netflix and the huge movie offering of the iTunes stores too (rent or buy).
If the iPad was just for gaming, it would be fantastic. After trying a few games, I was blown away by the interface, ability to control movement seamlessly, plus the natural feel of holding the game as you play it: all remarkable. Not to mention the visual experience. It returns memories of the Gameboy for this old Nintendo fan and "wows" you for how far we've come.
If the iPad was just for touch-screen Internet browsing, it would be special. There are other products like this on the market, but the speed and ease of navigating this system with your fingers feels right. The thousands of apps already available (and of course many more to come) utilizing the Internet puts it in your hands in a whole new way. And the size of the iPad screams down to the iPhone: This is how touch-screen Internet browsing (and maps, as Dave Winer points out) should really work.
And of course, if the iPad was just for books, it would be revolutionary. And it is. While I don't own a Kindle, I've played with one before, I've even tried Barnes and Nobles' Nook, I've read books on my iPhone, and I've read books the traditional way. It's a whole new reading experience that nothing else comes close to.
But the fact that all of this is rolled into one device is absolutely mind-blowing. Not to mention the iPod built in, which by now is expected of course, but it is special in itself. People feel connected to music; it motivates them, it soothes them, it psyches them up. You can do that too with the iPad. And check your email, take notes, and do hundreds of more things thanks to the Apps store.
And to put something to rest: The Flash issue is overrated. It's Web developers and certain organizations flipping out that they're not compatible with the iPad, but realistically, there are so many other things you can do on this device, never mind Flash! Yes, it's a significant part of the Internet, but its applications are dying, and all Web sites that use it would be wise to move on. All of my favorites Web sites look just fine on the iPad. (And Facebook and Twitter.com both work great.)
So the iPad's lone flaw: its price.
Of course, it's a new Apple product and that will change over time, but you can't expect the masses to purchase this thing, plus the add-ons such as 3G, 3G monthly fees, a warranty, and most importantly (and adding up the quickest) -- the apps. These aren't your typical 99 cent apps. The good ones are going to cost you. And the iPad experience takes a huge hit without great apps.
It would be easy to get the $499 wireless device, yet still hit $1,000 when all is said and done (ironically what original price rumors were), and that's the low-end product. You could go crazy and pay a whole lot more. That money is probably better spent when you think long and hard about it, as great as the iPad is as a fun luxury to have.
So, even though this is a dream product in my eyes, I'm not buying one just yet. Either that price goes down, or Sling Media releases its iPad app so you can watch live television on it (its in the works), and that MIGHT put me over the edge - maybe.
If money's not a factor for you, yes, get it. For millions of Americans right now, the unemployed, the hurting, and for those paying back college loans such as myself and people struggling to make ends meet -- it's a tease. You're better off waiting.
But make no mistake about it: the iPad will be around for a while. Its impact on the future of personal computing, gaming and books will be significant.
This device is revolutionary, and it will shake up a few more industries just as the iPhone, iPod, and iTunes store did before it.
Well done, Apple.
UPDATE (4-11-10): OK, so after three visits to the Apple Store, I got an iPad. And I managed to do so well under my $1,000 estimate above.
It's still pricey and I wish it would be more affordable so everyone could get one, but my initial estimates of its cost were probably a bit harsh, as some noted in the comments.
Why I did it? Some helped convince me, but also I believe in this product, I really do believe it's the future of personal computing, and I believe in its potential as a productivity device. Now owning it, those beliefs have only grown stronger.
Follow Craig Kanalley on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ckanal