I just thought I'd take a minute to remind everyone that Apple is a consumer electronics company. They, unlike lots, do really good things for education (see the ADE initiative, iTunes U, Apple Learning Interchange, and others) but first and foremost they are selling products to people. Lots of us in the higher ed space are looking at the iPad lamenting the stuff that didn't make it ... but at the end of the day it is a really nice product in the consumer space that will evolve.
It might be a hit at my house and if it is, it will cost us a heck of a lot less than a laptop for each of the kids. The only thing that would keep it from being something I'd heavily promote is that at the moment it lacks any sort of real digital content creation tools -- and that may be one of its biggest short comings out of the box. We know from our own surveys and national data that kids are creating lots of shareable digital media. How does the iPad fit into that World? I am hoping Apple will do the same thing with some of the iLife apps as it has with iWork -- port them to iPad. Imagine an iPad with iMovie or Garageband on it ... it would be an amazing UI opportunity. The current inability to do native (read as the Apple way) content creation on the iPad is an oversight.
Having iWork on the device makes it something I can easily take on trips and potentially present from ... I say "potentially" because most of my Keynote stacks are heavily laden with digital video. I am guessing Keynote on the iPad can manage all that stuff. That integration alone makes it a great business tool for me. I use Safari, Keynote, Gmail, and Google Docs for more than 90% of my work so the iPad fits my profile. Looking at it, the horizon is unlimited because of the App Store. How long will it be until people start building apps that really take advantage of the form factor and meet business needs?
I am guessing that the iPad will fit into most peoples' lives. Will everyone in my house have an iPad? I am guessing that is what Apple is hoping for ... I didn't see anything that said the iPad can have multiple accounts running on it. From what I can see is that the iPad and its owner have a 1:1 relationship. A Macbook can be shared, while it looks like the iPhone in that it is a single user device.
No matter, we'll be testing it. I feel like there are enough interesting aspects of this thing that we need to understand it and its potential relationship to teaching and learning.