Okay, so now we know what all the hype was about: the iPad.
First thoughts: I wasn't too far wrong. And this thing is going to slaughter the Kindle and most of the other ebook readers on the market, even without Apple coming up with a better business model for the publishers. With Penguin, Hachette, Macmillan, Simon and Schuster and HarperCollins on board, they've just about aced the main US trade publishers — remains to be seen how smaller outfits plug into the platform, but at this point Amazon have a struggle on their hands. As iBook reads ePub format files it may be possible to add free content to it. Maybe.
The addition of iWork makes this more than just a fancy iPod Touch; it's actually going to be a useful personal productivity tool. So I guess I was right to guess Apple were positioning it as a whole new platform alongside the Macintosh line. (Not bundling the iWork apps for free with the tablet seems a bit odd to me, however.)
They've got the battery life right: as I noted previously, we're seldom more than four hours from a power socket, so 12 hours of video playback is ample. The text input is sufficiently right — you probably wouldn't want to write an entire book on a multitouch screen, but for email and web and light document editing it's going to be infinitely nicer than poking one finger at a time (or two-handed thumb-typing) on the iPhone ... and for that novel there's the hardware keyboard. The ability to run all iPhone apps out of the box means that it's got a pre-canned ecosystem; you're not stuck with iWork or iBook, given that office suites like QuickOffice or Documents to Go, and ebook readers like Stanza or the Kindle app, will run unmodified.
At the very least, this is going to clean up in some specialist sectors — medical computing, for example, which has already taken to tablet PCs (they're easy to sanitize and you can poke at them without sitting down and typing). More likely, given the aggressive (for Apple) pricing, it's going to make inroads into the netbook market — and education; this thing is brilliant for students. (12 hour life, reads textbooks, takes notes, weighs exactly as much as a single 300-page hardback, i.e. 600 grams: it's half the weight of a typical netbook, or a Macbook Air.) And charging over a regular dock connector means you can top it up on the go using any USB power source and an adapter cable.
Summarizing: I think this is a convergent device. It's not going to live up to the expectations generated by the initial hype, because nothing could; but it's significant, and I can see a lot of uses for it in the weird niche between a real computer and a mobile phone that is currently occupied by sluggish, small, cut-down laptops running Windows XP. In particular, the App store ecosystem is really going to help. I reckon the total cost of ownership of an iPad is actually going to be lower than that of a netbook, once you consider the necessary extra software you need to make a netbook do anything useful (and recall that the App store price points are typically cheaper than Windows application price points).
(As you probably guessed, I am very relieved that I wrote in that escape clause in my new year's resolution last month!)