I recently bought an iPad. It's the 64GB, wi-fi only model - in black if that matters. It took me a long time to get to the point where I thought it would be useful. I spent a good bit of time reading about them online and talking with people who had one. Ultimately, for me, the decision represented a compromise: get an iPad instead of a Macbook Air.
Portability and more efficient processing were the main reasons I was considering getting a machine. Work provides a notebook but it's a beefy thing that has the horsepower and storage space I need for a good bit of what I do. The 5+ pound brick is a bit much to lug around, though, as often I don't need the full capacity, e.g., going to visit relatives or short vacations.*
More recently the machine is not able to meet my computing needs. One of the main issues is that I'm pushing the limits of it's processing capacity. While many applications run reasonably well, anything with a video component causes the processor utilization to spike and, in turn, the fan to run at full speed. This is really problematic with using a webcam. Many of my classes are distributed between multiple campuses. In an attempt to be equitable, since resident and remote students are graded equivalently, I feel compelled to be available for video conferencing. Since my current machine doesn't have a built in webcam I have to add an external one. This is also a an issue while watching videos of any duration. It's not uncommon that computation-heavy programs I write/run also cause a near meltdown but I think that's expected.
An upgrade is not available to me until next August so I need a solution in the meantime.
After researching notebooks and tablets, I eventually decided that a Macbook Air was the best solution for me. Since I was arguing portability as a driver for the need, I was looking at the 11" version but wanted as much storage and horsepower I could get. This meant selecting the 128GB model and upgrading the RAM from 2GB to 4GB, perhaps, too, opting for the processor upgrade. So, those plus a couple of accessories later the price tag was about $1500. It was high enough that more thought had to be put into the decision. I looked at competing Windows machines but I wasn't able to get the same performance or a solid state drive - neither for the price of the Air nor at all.
The next option I considered was the iPad. With all of the positive reviews and feedback I received from others it became a very viable option. It of course isn't the same as a notebook but the cost was half that of the air and the tablet functionality was something that needed to be taken into consideration. In the end, the iPad was the direction I decided to go.
As you might expect, I am happy with the purchase. So far the only problem I have encountered is that I haven't found a way to share my iPad screen to others during web conferencing. Where I need it most is when using Adobe Connect as that is the platform used to distribute my classes. It's also a convenient tool during office hours if I need to demonstrate/draw.
A feature I use extensively in class is PowerPoint's pen mode during a presentation. We have interactive tablets in the classrooms where the majority of my classes are held. What I was hoping for was the ability to do that via the iPad when some other location. There might be an app that supports this but I haven't found it. I have the Keynote app which I am sure will be generally useful but wish the feature existed.
I feel the compromise was a good decision. If nothing else I can while away my free time with Garage Band.
* Technically university owned computing equipment should only be used for work-related activities so I should by my own for personal computing. However, there is an expectation that I am accessible when not on campus. So, in exchange for the mix of work and life, I'm completely comfortable for the general use of my notebook for personal reasons.