The new iPad has met with a mixed response from punters because it's just not clear where this new device fits into the computing ecosystem. It's not going to replace the smartphone in your pocket, the desktop in your office nor the notebook in your study.
If anything the iPad is designed to replace your netbook - a low-powered, portable recreational device designed for basic tasks such as email, web browsing and social networking.
The iPad really belongs on your coffee table, and will obviously appeal to fanboys who have held out for an Apple-condoned netbook.
So what exactly would you do with the iPad in your lounge room? Basically, what you're already doing with a notebook/netbook on your lap as you watch television - checking your messages, surfing the web and chatting with friends via various social networking platforms.
The iPad's only real killer feature is the eBook reader app, with an iBookstore coming to the iTunes store. The iPad has the same size screen (9.7 inches) and price tag (US$499) as the monochrome Kindle DX, but if you just want an eBook reader you could pick up the 6 inch Kindle for just US$259. You can also expect Amazon to drop the price on the Kindle DX now the iPad has surfaced.
The iPad runs the touchscreen-friendly iPhone OS, not a full-blown Mac OS like Snow Leopard. Just like the iPhone, this means Apple has pretty much complete control over what you can do.
This control might be the iPad's undoing, unless the iPad Software Development Kit allows software makers to create killer apps for the iPad. Such developers should focus their efforts on the lounge room.
Apple's Remote app for the iPhone is a great way to control your computers remotely. For example, it lets you take control of iTunes running on any computer (or Apple TV) and send music - including internet radio - from that device to AirTunes base stations (Apple TVs or Airport Expresses) anywhere in the house.
Controlling multi-room audio from an iPhone is simply beautiful to use. For some reason you can't do this on a Mac or PC, you can pull music from another computer but there's no way to use iTunes on one computer to control iTunes on another.
The frustrating thing about the iPhone is that you can't stream music directly from an iTunes library on another device, you can only listen to music that's already stored on the iPhone.
Also, you can't stream music from the iPhone directly to remote speakers. iTunes lets you perform these tricks on a computer, but you can't do them on an iPhone.
Theses limitations of the iPhone are perhaps understandable considering the iPhone only features 802.11b/g wireless networking, but the new iPad offers faster 802.11n wireless networking.
As such, there's no reason why the iPad shouldn't be able to offer the iPhone's remote control features as well as iTunes' streaming audio features.
With 802.11n, the iPad should even be able to comfortably stream video to remote devices. If developers can tap into such features, it would make the iPad a very attractive entertainment device.
Along with streaming media, the iPad's other lounge room-friendly killer feature could be as a universal remote control.
The iPad lacks the infrared port required to control most home entertainment gear, but perhaps it's possible to use a Bluetooth to IR adaptor - similar to the IR to Bluetooth adaptors used to control the PlayStation 3.
If you could use the iPad to control your home entertainment gear - such as television, PVR, Blu-ray player and surround sound - and then stream content to this gear, the iPad would be the ultimate lounge room accessory.
Of course, all this relies on Apple giving iPad software developers the freedom to innovate, which we haven't seen so far with the iPhone. If Apple releases its grip on the iPad, it could have an iHit on its hands.
Also in this series, Picking the Perfect Home Entertainment Box:
Part 15: HandBrake abandons DivX for ripping DVDs, should you?
Part 14: Is LG's BD390 Network Blu-ray player the ultimate streaming media box?
Part 13: Logitech's Harmony 900 universal remote puts you a little less in control
Part 12: TiVo's upgraded Video on Demand is a kick in the guts for Foxtel iQ2
Part 11: Not all universal remotes are created equal
Part 10: Hulu blocks international access via Witopia
Part 9: What does Windows 7 offer in the lounge room?
Part 8: forget scratched DVDs, build a video jukebox instead
Part 7: Is Foxtel Download worth getting excited about?
Part 6: Is interference destroying your digital lounge room?
Part 5: Do you need a Freeview sticker?
Part 4: What's the best way to record your favourite shows?
Part 3: Networking your TV, PVR, console, set top box
Part 2: Creating a P2P season pass
Part 1: Internet video on the PS3
Buying a TV? Also see our series How to Pick a Great Flat Screen TV, And Not Get Sucked In By Marketing Hype