The screen size changes the touchscreen experience. It is more 'natural' and in proportion to finger size than the iPhone screen so working with websites is tremendous IF there is no flash. About half the sites have flash (I have discovered) including the BBC site which is like a giant flash repository. Can't see movies, stream any radio or tv and often can't see photos or interviews or the news synopsis. This is very frustrating as the BBC is my home page site. Something has to give: flash or apple's refusal to embrace it. But for first time users, this could be frustrating and for -say- and academic recommending links to her students, use limiting.
BUT the interaction with the internet and some Apps is like a window on the world of learning. You peel back the layers and engage with the material in an almost tactile way. This is potentially the best learning device I have ever used.
I shared three extension gestures for learning: draw a square to pop up a note; draw a ? for contextual help, and draw a spiral for drill down to more links and connections and maybe drill up to front page. These suggested themselves before I had touched an iPad. Now I can see the immediate value. Now, if I want to write a note I have to 'copy' the text, come out of the App or web page, launch notes and then 'paste'. It's okay but fiddly and you are not guaranteed to go back -eventually- to the same place.
Also, with a front- facing camera this would be the perfect Skype tool. It makes calls really well. So it needs a camera and maybe two cameras (one for vc and one for collecting information). You could go on a field trip and gather data, take pictures, write notes and build your project right on the spot. I would also imagine an iPad loaded with the relevant text books would be almost as cheap buying just the books (not withstanding the massive drop in weight lugging them round). This must be an option that many universities are considering.
The App store is closed in the UK so no apps until I sort out a US iTunes account. This is merely, temporarily, annoying but it limits what I can say as I am working off the core apps that came with the iPad and my iPhone apps. There has been criticism about the way iPhone apps scale, saying they look 'wrong' on the iPad, and scale pixillated. Not in my experience. My giant Tube map of the London subway looks great floating over the screen, and searching out train times using the Network Rail app is a pleasure as the lists are more legible. There are one or two that don't work at all but these do NOT convert over. Can't wait to see a real App that has been build for the iPad.
Mobile Me invisibly synchs my diary and address book and the 'two page' calendar layout is fabulous. It is a shame you cannot use your finger to turn the pages like a paper cadendar. i am sure that subtle change is on the way. I love the idea of sitting with someone and saying: 'I will just flick through my calendar to see what is available' and out comes an iPad!
Touch typing with the built-in key board is okay. But as a touch typist I tend to rest my fingers on the keys. If I do this the iPad goes mental and begins spewing out gibberish. I have to remember to 'hover' just above the keyboard. When I do this, I can type quickly as the key board appears to be full size in landscape mode. But hovering is tiring so this is not the keyboard for my magnum opus. I would prefer to use the plug in keyboard that attaches to the iPad (when it is available) and type normally.
Reading is no problem. I have no access to the books app so I am using my iPhone Kindle app. Amazingly the app allows me to upload all my books and then read at a time and place of my choosing. I have the Kindle app on my iPhone, Kindle, laptop and desktop and when I read a few pages on any book, in any medium, for as long as I want, the Kindle app synchs the others to the 'last page read'. That is simply delightful.
I will keep on experimenting (playing) and let you know how I get on. I may even have to charge this beast eventually! It draws so much power that plugging into my USB hub only synchs the iPad rather than charges it. It needs more oomph! for charging.
Game changer: quit possibly. This will depend on the apps exploiting this wonderful interface. Roll on the UK app store; roll on OS 4.0 and roll on enhanced screen commands and a camera.