Long story short, I don't own an iPad (Canadian...), but am considering it. Thanks to the delayed release up here, I won't get a chance to play with an iPad first hand until the end of May / early June. To that end, I'd really appreciate any advice from real life iPad owners on how well it meets my requirements.
So what do I want an iPad for? I'm a Uni. student whose first gen netbook is getting a little long in the tooth. I want something which is excessively portable and with enough battery to last a full day. I've got a few specific concerns I will outline below.
1.) How is the iPad for note taking with and without a physical keyboard attachment? I haven't gotten a good answer on this yet. Some reviewers, like Anand, have been fairly positive about the digital keyboard but others have suggested extended typing is an ergonomic nightmare. I don't expect to write massive essays, but without a physical keyboard I'd like to be able to comfortably jot down the 'key points' of a lecture (say, 700w/2hr). With a keyboard, I'd like to be able to do full blown note taking. Realistic?
2.) Connectivity. I hate iTunes, I love Dropbox. Ideally documents on my iPad would be automatically synced over Dropbox or some such service. Is this supported? Related, would I be able to to download a .pdf article into a Dropbox folder, annotate said .pdf on the iPad, then have it auto-magically synced back? If I have to use an send files as attachments in emails or use iTunes to sync, the iPad would seem less practical to me.
3.) Not really anything to do with studying, but how good is the iPad's codec pack? More importantly, how good are third party real time transcoding apps? I've got a few terabytes of movies, and I'm simply not going to convert them into some kind of iPad friendly format. If I have movies shared over a network, is the iPad comfortable with streaming various formats?
4.) How effective is the iPad as an e-reader? I don't want to read Joyce's Ulysses, but can you comfortably read a 20-40 page journal article? Also, what app would accomplish this? Are pdfs treated as ebooks by the iPad's native reader? I've seen that app take notes on selected text, can these notes be exported into a consolidated note sheet? I occasionally use my iPhone in tandem with Dropbox to work as a reader, but it's a PITA to read and kills the battery, and my netbook just isn't ergonomic as a reader, so this seems like a case where the iPad could actually fill a new niche in my life (and free me from the semi-barbaric need to lug around reams of printouts).
5.) This is less a concern about 'should I get an iPad' but rather, what kind of iPad should I get? My first thought was to go for the wifi 16gb, the logic being I don't intend to store much more than text on the iPad locally, undermining larger storage capacities, and everywhere I would intend on using the iPad (home/campus/work) is blanketed by wifi, and the one place that isn't (the subway) is inaccessible to cellular signals anyways. I'd like GPS, but I'll always have my iPhone with that capability. Can actual owners tell me if this is sound logic, or did people smack their heads when they realized that the 3G model really is *that* much better?
6.) How much do most users here spend monthly on their iPad Apps Store accounts? Every month or so I buy a $0.99-1.99 game for my iPhone, which is fine, but I could just as easily not. I'm worried that if I give the iPad an integral role in my computer stable, I'll be dependent on shelling out large amounts of cash just to get third party apps which would probably be free on a windows/linux netbook. Given the iPad costs more than a netbook upfront, I'm really quite reticent about having drastically higher operating costs as well. Anand wrote that new iPad owners should expect to spend $60-$120 on apps right out of the box. On top of a 30$ case and a 70$ keyboard, this is kinda steep.
I know there are some more high profile concerns (flash, usb, multitasking), but those are well documented and, for the most part, soon to be fixed or not really of concern to me. Any advice would appreciated. I guess I'm trying to figure out if the iPad really is as neat as it seems or if I'm just tricking myself into thinking it can do things it either can't, or I don't really need it to do.