Well, my brother, the tech junkie, plunked down around $500 to be an early-adopter (like more than 300,000 other Americans), as is his way. Which means I got to play with what's been called a glorified iTouch and can report back to you with the juicy-but-practical details.
So, I can see why the iPad is so covetable. It's sleek and slick, all shiny black with a bright, super-fly, and shockingly crisp multi-touch screen. It's only got one physical button on the screen -- and that button's function is really simple: It brings you back to the main screen. This makes it almost fool-proof, even for those who aren't super-techy.
And its pint-sized-ness makes it easy to carry, even in an already over-stuffed diaper bag, if I wanted to. Which puts my relatively small MacBook to shame.
But the real reason to want the iPad is its practical-ness. For the everyday working woman (and mom), it's got all the basics -- a schnazzy email system, web browsing, a syncable calendar and contacts database, plus an amazingly vivid LED screen for displaying photos and video, which would be an awesome way to show off my daily updates on Kavi. But it's also got your iTunes hook-up, a Kindle-esque iBooks reader, live maps, and iWorks, so you can do your basic Word-stuff and number-crunching. And those are just the included functions.
My brother showed me how to browse the Apps gallery, where you can download programs to make your life easier. There's already more than 1000 iPad-specific apps to choose from. On his computer, he had a New York Times reader, access to shows from ABC, Marvel comics, video games (even Tetris, which is my weakness), recipes, budgeting tools, coupon trackers, Facebook, NetFlix and Kindle. And a bunch of other apps moms can't live without. Plus, you can sync your existing iTouch or iPhone apps to your iPad, which means there are more than 150,000 apps available for download. It's overwhelming, but once you get the hang of it, these things do make your life easier. The only thing it doesn't have? A phone.
So here's the thing: if you have an iPhone or some other smartphone type of gadget, you probably don't need an iPad, as fun as it may be. But if you don't want to drop the extra $30 a month for a data plan, the WiFi iPad is probably more than enough to cover your everyday Interneting, reading and playing on the go functions. It picks up existing wireless where ever you are, so it'll work at the local cafe or library, et al, but without the 3G data plan, know that you're unlikely to be able to swing that stuff on the train or on the road. Still, with iBooks, iTunes and the ability to download movies and TV shows, you'll definitely be entertained whether you have Internet access or not.
And the iPad can also function as a clean, organized daily planner. Which means the multi-functionality really works for new moms in that it can eliminate some of the bulk you'd have to lug around if you had your lap-top, your planner, your e-reader and all that other modern day crap we have to deal with. An all-in-one mom tool, in a way. Which means I'm still coveting it, although I'm not quite ready to drop the $500-plus on it just yet.
Are you geting an iPad?