Another common criticism against the iPad is its screens 4:3 aspect ratio. I can't help but agree that this does make video less than ideal at times. Displaying at 1,024 x 436 pixels in the case of 2.35:1 films and 1,240 x 683 pixels in the case of 16:9 content is far from perfect, but honestly I couldn't care less. I'm never going to watch a film on such a small device except on an aeroplane. And guess what, the video on an iPad looks a heck of a lot better than on a seat-back display.
Importantly, this boxy aspect ratio, while not suited to video, works fantastically everywhere else. Because the iPad is the kind of device that you only do one thing at a time on it doesn't need a wide aspect ratio. When all I'm doing is browsing a website or reading an iBook reams of desktop real estate are simply not necessary.
Speaking of iBooks, here is another triumph of the iPad. I still prefer e-ink displays, but I'm amazed that the screen on the iPad is as readable as it is. I've managed to get a good few hundred pages into Don Quixote and my eyes haven't failed me yet. Magazine and newspaper publishers are embracing the iPad, too. The Times must surely be joking by asking £9.99 for its iPad implementation, but the Wall Street Journal is excellently reproduced on the iPad and Wired, with a few improvements, (better distiguishment between content and ads, fewer narrow columns of text) might well set the standard all others follow.
The iPad only really falls down as productivity tool. All three iWork apps are an incredible achievement, of that there is no doubt. But are they a replacement for iWork, for Microsoft Word, or even Google Docs? No. I typed the majority of this text on an iPad, using the virtual keyboard, and it's taken me about three times as long as doing so on a proper computer would and I've still had to move to my desktop PC to finish the job. A netbook is better here, therefore, because netbooks have physical keyboards and as a result you can be properly productive on one.
This, however, is the only advantage a netbook has. But it's my experience that, like the iPad, netbooks only work as supplementary devices - you still need a laptop or computer along with the netbook just like you still need one with your iPad.
And this is the killer argument for the iPad. Everything it can't do that a netbook can, a laptop or desktop PC does, and better. But for browsing the web, playing a few casual games, watching YouTube videos, listening to music, sending emails and so many other things the iPad experience is so much better than a netbook it's almost unfair to compare the two classes of device.
You're probably wondering what my point is, here, or whether I even have one. Well, here it is: the iPad is overpriced, under-featured; it could, put simply, have been better - of that I'm under no illusion. But because the iPad is such a delight to use, because it does what it can do so well, I'm convinced that Apple has another massive success on its hands. In fact, I'm so convinced that once the sample Apple has loaned us goes back I'll be putting my money where my mouth is and buying an iPad of my own.