Yes, a tablet like the iPad would do a lot of the same things that iPhones, netbooks, and laptops currently do. But we think there's a niche for people who don't have iPhones (yes, those people exist!), who want something larger for when they need more than a quick reference, or who don't want to bring a netbook or laptop into the kitchen.
1. E-cookbooks - Current e-readers like the Kindle and the Nook just aren't great for cookbooks. They're black and white, and just a little too small to be useful for casual cookbook browsing or following a recipe in the kitchen. The tablet totally changes the game, bringing a full-color, nearly book-like experience in electronic format. There aren't very many cookbooks available yet, but we're betting this starts to change in the next year.
2. E-magazines - Ditto for magazines. We've often wished for an easily searchable and navigable archive of all our favorite food magazines. Conde Nast is already working with Apple to develop electronic versions of their magazines and we can't wait to see what they come up with. We even wonder if defunct print magazines like Gourmet (*sniff!*) might find new life in an electronic format.
3. Recipe Searching - Like many of you, we no longer print out the recipes we find on the internet. This means that we have to decide between bringing our laptop into the kitchen or transcribing every recipe we make into a notebook. A tablet would be easier prop up on the counter, be a little more durable against spills and crumbs, and save us the time and paper it takes to write in our recipe notebook. On the downside, we'd have to figure out a different system for taking notes and making recipe adjustments when working electronically.
4. Blog Reading - We don't know about you, but we read A LOT of blogs, food-related and otherwise. Being able to curl up on the couch with a tablet to do our reading has a lot more appeal than being chained to our desk or even holding a netbook on our laps. Since we haven't had the chance to hold an iPad yet, we're also guessing that it's easier to do a lot of internet reading on a larger tablet than on our iPhones or a small-screened netbook.
5. Kitchen and Cooking Apps - A tablet with apps (or simple internet access) is useful for quick conversions, advice on cooking errors, timing cooking, and plenty of other things. Apple says that all the current iPhone apps will run on the iPad, and we'll be looking forward to seeing what apps are developed specifically for the larger iPad.
6. Movies and Clips - We like some entertainment in the kitchen, especially if we know we're going to be there for a while. It's a bit more superfluous than our other reasons, but it would be nice to have the ability to play movies and TV shows in the background while we cook.
There is also the X-factor - those uses for the tablet that that we can't currently imagine simply because we've never had a device quite like this. That's not necessarily a reason for getting one right now, but it's a reason to keep an eye on how tablets keep developing over the next few years.
Now that you've had some time to think about it, how do you see a tablet like the iPad being useful or not!) to you as a homecook?