No, I wasn't at the big soirée in San Francisco and I have yet to actually handle an iPad, but after all the rumors I, like many others, was excited to see the actual device on display. As my readers know, what I'm primarily interested in is the iPad as EFB and it looks like it could work nicely for that purpose, with some caveats. First the good, then the not-so-good.
As one might expect with Apple, the construction quality and the form factor are excellent.
Height: 9.56 inches (242.8 mm)
Width: 7.47 inches (189.7 mm)
Depth: 0.5 inch (13.4 mm)
Weight: 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg) Wi-Fi model; 1.6 pounds (0.73 kg) Wi-Fi + 3G model
Decent estimated battery life of 10 hours.
Nice looking, crisp display. Haven't seen it in daylight, but if it's like my Macbook Pro then the LED backlight display with auto contrast control is quite good.
Price seems reasonable and competitive, though I'm thinking I'd probably go for the version without 3G.
Lots of connectivity options for moving data to and from the device, though you'll have to buy the 3G version to get the SIM card tray. D'oh!
Maximum operating altitude is 10,000 feet. The first thing everyone says when I mention this is "But it has a solid state disk drive!" Now this is pure speculation, but the altitude limit could be due to any number of components - the display, the internal switches/accelerometers that detect rotation and movement, who really knows? The altitude limit is not such a big deal for displaying approach plates as I know of few airports with a field elevation at or above 10,000 feet.
Operating temperature range could be an issue for some folks, depending on your location and the season: 32° to 95° F (0° to 35° C).
At the moment there is no support for multi-tasking, though the upcoming iPhone OS 4.0 is rumored to support multi-tasking.
The other issue with the iPhone OS is that some of my favorite applications that I'd love to see run on this device, like ReadyProcs for instance, would need to be ported. Depending on the APIs, this may not be a huge deal or it could be a lot of work. I'd speculate that Nacomatic and PDFPlates should be pretty usable with an iPhone-based PDF viewer.
iPhone applications for viewing maps, like SkyCharts and ForeFlight should be much more useful on the iPad.
Right now, this is all academic. The device won't go on sale for another 60 days and even then, one can expect shortages. But at least the cat is out of the bag.