I've had my iPad roughly two months and haven't given much in the way of thought to why it has quickly become my mobile device of choice. Occasionally, I'll cross paths with someone online or in real life that'll question me about the merits of the iPad and why they should buy one. I feel like I never have a particularly good answer, and usually just pass mine over to them so they can see for themselves. In the aftermath of trying to do all kinds of crazy things with mine, I think I've only unlocked some of the reasons huddled behind the subtle appeal of the iPad.
1. Informal Mobile Computing
I timed the amount of time required to open my Macbook Pro, boot up, and load Pages so I can begin writing. It required almost 50 seconds to get the point where I could start typing, even with pages set to auto open at start up. The same task on an iPad (always on) requires less than 3 seconds. If I count up the dozens of times every week I feel obliged to jot down a few paragraphs for my book on whatever mobile device I'm carrying, that's a lot of time saved.
2. Not a Real Computer
When I pull out my iPad, most people have the same reaction a person would have checking their email on a smartphone. It isn't like pulling out a laptop, which can be awkward in most social situations. Pulling out my iPad to show someone a picture feels just like pulling out my wallet for the same purpose. It pops on, I share something with the person across from me, and bam it goes off again.
3. Desktop Extension
Most people dislike the fact that the iPad can't stand alone as a computing device like a laptop. Aside from all the obvious problems with having a touchscreen device running a standard cursor driven OS, I like being able to sync my data to it without juggling flash drives and that there are lots of cloud storage options cross platforms. It is far simpler to get my data, media, and files stored on my iMac synced with my iPad, as compared to my Macbook Pro.
It can't do more than 1-2 things at a time. Being a creative professional requires tools that release you from distractions. I've probably typed more for my book on my iPad than my iMac as a consequence. My iMac can have all sorts of things running while I'm trying to write. iChat, Netflix, iTunes, browser windows open to web comics, social networking sites, and more can run at the same time on my iMac effortlessly. At most, my iPad will push notify from my chat client, play music, and allow me to write at the same time greatly reducing the temptation to goof off or get distracted from the task at hand.
Virtually everything I can do on my iMac can be done on my iPad. I can't run World of Warcraft or Adobe CS4. Basically stuff I need a cursor for, and prefer doing on my iMac anyway. In fact, there are things I like doing that can only be done on my iPad like iBooks (I dig the interface), Sketchbook Pro (with my thumb), and Space Station HD (drool).