Well, I got mine yesterday (more on that in a moment) and played with it most of the evening. I only got it for app development and will be giving it away in a few weeks, so it's not mine to keep, but I intend to give it some real-world testing in the meantime. Here are my reactions so far:
+ Viewing my photo library is marvelous. I expected this ... I'd love to have one of these to take to family reunions and pass around when talking about my last vacation, house projects, etc.
+ Browsing the web is better than I expected. The iPhone version of Safari really works well here, scaling websites to fit the window in either orientation, and scrolling and zooming with the touch interface.
+ And reading e-books ... I never even considered this, but the book reader is really cool and Project Gutenberg is amazing ... I immediately downloaded two books I've been meaning to read and I can't wait to try this.
- No Flash for video. I don't care about Flash eye-candy on some websites, but I do watch a lot of streaming video and virtually all of that is in Flash. When I got up early to stream a European bike race this morning, I grabbed my MacBook because I knew I wouldn't be able to use the iPad. Sadly, I'd expect it to take 1-2 years for HTML 5 to become prevalent enough to avoid this problem.
- Doesn't replace an iPod. It does pictures and video better than my iPod touch, but I can't put it in my back pocket to listen to music while I'm working outside, or slip it onto a dashboard mount to connect to the car stereo.
- Doesn't work as a standalone computer. I would strongly recommend this to some relatives who need a zero-maintenance web and email computer -- it's the closest thing to a functional "web appliance" that I've used. But you still need a main computer to operate it. It wouldn't even show the home screen without syncing to iTunes first.
One thing I haven't tested is the keyboard. My accuracy has been excellent for entering web URLs, but I haven't tried writing email with it yet. I usually don't even bother on my iPod touch, so I'm wondering how much more usable this will be. If I can write email on it, this could replace a laptop for shorter out-of-town trips, but if not, there's no way I could justify the cost for casual around-the-house use.
Now for the delivery story: I spent the morning at home waiting for UPS, but I wanted to run some errands so I finally left a note with my signature, which has worked fine in the past. When I got home, UPS had been there and gone, leaving a handwritten note that said, "Sorry, signature required" -- I was mad! But then I found two telephone messages from the UPS driver, one when he came the first time, and another two hours later when he came back again! He left his own number, so I called him back. He had just returned to the warehouse but offered to drive out again and meet me half way! I laughed and told him I'd be happy to come to the warehouse to pick it up. He left it for me at the guard house of the UPS air terminal, where the security guards were really suspicious until I showed them my call slip, and then were really excited and wanted to know all about the iPad. UPS really wanted to get these delivered on launch day and they seemed excited to be a part of the launch event! I must say, that made it all the more fun to get the device and drive home to try it out.