One thing you have to say for the iPad: it sits right in the middle of three classic consumer hardware debates: fat/thin client; walled garden/libre; and information appliance/general purpose device. I have no idea whether this position makes it a better device, but it sure does generate a lot of passionate (though fundamentally boring-and-cliched-as-hell) blog posts.
The libre/walled garden is the only one I find even remotely interesting, and that only because of the cultural considerations it embodies — see this post from Alex Payne for more on that. Those making the assumption that the iPad represents some unitary future for computing* are being quite silly, I think — that’s not going to happen. But it’s worth reading Alex’s post to understand why that admittedly-unlikely event would be a terrible thing for people like him and me.
* Incidentally: any time you read something that approvingly quotes an expert whose listed credential is “futurist”, you should immediately dismiss it outright, and possibly also phone in a bomb threat to the publishing organization. Also: SixthSense is a neat tech demo, but assuming it works as well as the video is an astounding act of credulousness. Besides, no one wants to look that dumb in public.