So as you may have deduced from my post about my sisters' birthday presents, I got an iPad for my birthday. In fact, I'm posting on it right now. So that takes care of the first FAQ: yes, the keyboard is easy to use.
As for why I ended up getting one? Well, the pros on this post
So far, most of the apps I've downloaded have been at least worthwhile if not great. There have only been a few duds in the bunch.
From great to not-so:
Alice in Wonderland: Love it! I started out with the free Lite version and enjoyed it so much I shelled out the $9.99 for the full book (well, shelled out part of a gift card, but still). It's an interactive pop-up book, and I feel like it's something Lewis Carroll himself would have thoroughly enjoyed, particularly the disappearing Cheshire Cat.
Pandora: Never had tried it out on the computer, so I was pleasantly surprised. I'm really enjoying seeing what it comes up with as matches for my favorite musicians. (Free)
iBooks: The interface is unbelievable, and so easy and fun to use. I hope they expand the store soon, because it's a little thin right now, but I'm enjoying reading what books I can find. (Free)
Kindle: My less-favorite of the two e-reader interfaces, but the store is much, much more extensive, and the book prices are more reasonable overall. It does offer the options of white-on-black or sepia pages, which is nice if you prefer those to black-on-white for reading. (Free)
Smule Magic Piano: My favorite time-waster and kid-occupier. I don't know why it's so fascinating, but go search YouTube for "cat with an iPad" and see for yourself. I love the Guitar Hero-style songbook feature that makes it actually sound like I know how to play, too. ($1.99,I think)
NPR: Pretty straightforward... News and the ability to search for and listen to any public radio station. Worth more than the $0.00 I paid for it.
BBC: Similar deal, nice layout, also free.
NYT Editors' Choice: Really nice free app that gives several of the day's top stories in a clean, easy to use format.
Netflix: I'm pretty much Netflix's bitch, so I'll use and love just about anything they put out. That said, the Netflix iPad app is not the most intuitive or least buggy thing in the world. The app itself, on startup, takes you to a page with a scrolling list of your most recently viewed items and scrolling lists of recommended items. You might notice what's left off there: the basis of all Netflix activity, the queue. In order to get to your queue, you have to click on a tab which takes you to a webpage. And if you want to even think about watching a movie or episode of a TV show you've already seen? Prepare to spend 20 minutes figuring out how to get it to let you do that (Hint: it involves the "More Info" button). My final problem is that the streaming itself frequently slows down or stops altogether - I suspect it has to do with the close timing of introducing the service in the Wii and then the iPad coming out, and too many users overloading the system. All that said, though, I still prefer it to trying to use TV network players with commercials, and watch it all the time. It just has room for improvement.
The only dud I've found (well, there was one other I deleted, but I can't even remember what it was now) is Zinio. I had high hopes for this magazine reader, and it does look super slick, but to be honest, the free trial magazines annoyed me so much I ended up deleting the whole app. When you first open the library, it shows you these three free trial magazines. Cool, right. So I click on one. And it takes like 5 minutes to download because it has so much fancy interactive crap, but I poke around it for a minute to see what it's like. Then I want to delete the trials so they're not taking up all that space. Turns out the only way to delete them is to download them all completely first. Then you hit delete, then they go back to still being the same image of the cover that was there when you opened the library. See, you can never really delete a magazine in Zinio. Even if you never asked for Car & Driver, and never wanted Car & Driver, and would really rather it not be the first thing in your library, ready to start a 5-minute download any time you accidentally brush it with the heel of your hand on your way to Martha Stewart Living. So, for now, no Zinio for me. (Free, if you don't mind accidental huge downloads of Car & Driver and Mac World)