Yes, Apple's iPad is NOT a Tablet in the true sense of the term. It is not pen enabled and the other alleged attractions fall down because of this. HP's efforts are steadily improving and I currently use a HP 2730P (1.8Ghz) with Windows 7, it beats my Macbook Pro (2.6Ghz 17") hands down. MS Office on my HP is blazing fast, MBPro takes a lot more time to load the Mac version which may be to do with lack of development. Still, I am fast reverting to PC & Windows 7 & going off my MBPro (my family has/had 7 Apple laptops in past and we are now moving away from Apple).
The HP tablet is small enough to lug around, 12" LED screen which is bright and beautiful, MS OneNote is superb for handwriting (=Tablet PC, not iPad), it has built in SIM card for mobile broadband (a lot cheaper on O2) which works very well. Eminently readable screen, I read my text books and novels on it. I get 6 hours on the primary battery and I use a slice battery when on the move, get around 10-12 hours, adds little more to the weight. I paid more for my HP but I wouldn't exchange it for 10 free iPads. I did look at Toshiba, Lenovo & Fujitsu but I now have 4 HP tablets for family & staff who are all very happy with it. Even the warranty service is great !
I am sorry to say that the iPad is not "new technology", there are much better implementations of Tablet in the PC world. I agree with you that people should be very clear on their proposed uses for a Tablet and not be misled by the hype and pretty exterior. I must admit, having been an Apple fan for many years until I realised how tied in I was, I never thought the day would come when I would actually enjoy using a PC - Windows 7 did it for me. Now I wouldn't touch Apple products with a barge pole. I am quite happy to forego the "wow" & "pretty" factor for open hardware & better functionality.
In my view, iPad is NOT a Tablet - it is just a beautified large size iPod or iPhone. However, I expect that a lot of people with more money than sense will buy it in truckloads and everyone will coo over their new toy ! Reminds me of the "Emperor's New Clothes", wonderful.
I have been using a 'Tablet' for over two years now and what I consider to be a 'Tablet' doesn't appear to be what is now being promoted by Apple as a 'Tablet'. I think that everyone needs to carefully consider their intentions-goals for their purchase before leaping at this "new technology".
I use a Toshiba M750 with 4g of ram, etc. and full office and true mobile software packages. I have had great success with the hardware and software for its intended purpose(s), mobility and function.
If the intention in purchasing an Ipad is for personal limited media oriented use, then this may be the route. If, however, you want mobility for communications, note taking, etc. then a pen enabled full function true 'Tablet', although more expensive, is the answer.