Over the last few days I have heard an amazing amount of buzz over the new Apple iPad. To be honest, I'm kind of shocked. Before I get into my opinion of the iPad let me state the standard "I'm just an engineer" disclaimer. Engineers are not the best at identifying new markets. I mean, what engineer would have ever guessed there would be a demand for The Jersey Shore. :)
A good example of this buzz is Mike's post on the iPad being "potentially one of the most important, culture-changing products in history." For me the bar for important culture-changing technologies is quite high: Light bulb, refrigerator, radio, TV, cell phone, internet and so on.
In my opinion we can categorize all of these devices (PMP, Tablets, Laptops, Desktops) by two broad use-cases: Content Consumption and Content Creation. The iPad is a great device for light to medium content consumption. I use my iPod all the time to quickly check my email, twitter, search, and so on. The GUI was so masterfully designed that I use the iPod rather than the laptop. However, there are times when I need to perform heavy content consumption and I absolutely need multi-tasking, large display, and quick application switching. The iPod or iPad will never be my first choice.
On the content creation side (above light content creation) the iPad fails miserably. Even with the larger iPad display I'll still use my laptop. At a price point that makes the iPad comparable to a laptop I am not sure why anyone would not just buy a laptop that will serve both use cases.
So my final opinion: I think it is a great device that will make a great upgrade for someone that enjoys the iPod/iPhone. As far as transformational, I'll wait till the next big thing from Cupertino.