As a technology geek, I can see the appeal of devices like the Kindle and the iPad, especially as far as portability goes. It would be great to have a device small and light enough to carry around all the time, yet less annoying to use than a smartphone.
That being said, the iPad in particular seems to have major disadvantages as a content-creation machine. The web browser has trouble with some parts of the back end of WordPress (creating posts, editing posts, dealing with media, etc). The multitasking capabilities of the device are also somewhat lacking. Rather seriously, copying and pasting on the iPad is far from easy or intuitive – a pretty critical failure for someone who needs to move text between emails, blog posts, blog comments, other webpages, etc.
To me, the MacBook Air looks like a far superior option for people actually heavily involved in the creation of content. It’s a real computer that is fully under your control (you can even install Flash!), and it has a real keyboard and real web browser. If you are doing more extended work, you can plug in a mouse. It lets you take content from a USB key, or plug in your iPod to charge. Alongside all of that, it is remarkably small and compact – especially the 11″ version. It’s not as powerful and capable as a full computer, but it is plenty capable of accessing the internet and email, which would be the critical functions for me. If I need a computer that can do some heavy lifting, I can always go home and use my Core2Duo iMac.
If I wasn’t in the process of saving up for an uncertain financial future, I would almost certainly go out any by one to replace my heavy and increasingly non-functional G4 iBook. As it stands, if I do find myself heading off to join an academic program, it is probably an investment I will make.