All the main questions I had about it are answered right here. Pogue, like me, is a tad bewildered as to why this paradigm-breaking bit of gear is being criticised for not being an ordinary computer. D'oh.
Q: Am I really supposed to buy this thing when I already have a laptop and an iPhone?
A: It always surprises me how many people are made indignant by the very thought of the iPad, as though Congress passed a law that requires you to buy one!
You're not, as it turns out. Buying one is totally optional.
That said, the question is a little odd, because the iPad really is very different from a laptop or an iPhone. I guess people have a lot of trouble with the idea that it's a new category, something unlike anything they've used before. All people can do is compare it in their heads with stuff they HAVE used before.
But I'm telling you, the multitouch screen/software makes it very, very different from a laptop, and the screen size makes it very, very different from an iPhone. It's something entirely new. So yes, if it appeals to you, you'd have to buy it in addition to your laptop or iPhone.
All the same, I have to admit that the Bloke (who is himself incorrigibly gadget-minded, so this was actually quite a shocking question, coming from him) had a point when he asked what I planned to use it for, and I'm not quick-witted enough to have replied by asking why utility need be the only criterion for possession-lust (for, after all, it usually is not). Or to have invoked one of my favourite quotations: 'How do I know what I think till I see what I say?'