On Saturday, April 3, 2010, at 9:00 AM, Apple released the iPad into the world. By 10:00 AM, I was experiencing mine ($599 for the 64GB version). By the end of the day, 300,000 had been purchased. Or maybe friended? would be a better description. Or married?. The world has definitely changed.

My first impressions:

The iPad has far greater potential for business than I expected. For one, it runs Apple’s Keynote app ($9.95). To call this their version of PowerPoint would be like calling the Great Wall of China a fence. And because it has an optional VGA connector (yes, I bought that too) and impressive audio, I’m contemplating leaving my beloved MacBook Pro at home in favor of traveling light as in 24 ounces lite.

An iPad app called LogMeIn Ignition ($29.95) makes this infinitely more practical. It turns my iPad into my MacBook, or even into my Windows 7 PC, through the magic of screen-sharing. It’s unbelievable.

The iPad is going to save print media

Yes, I love the glossy look and feel of an actual magazine and the pleasing column layout of a traditional newspaper. On the iPad, Time Magazine looks even better than the original, especially with Steve Jobs on its April 12 electronic edition cover (smart move Time people). The Wall Street Journal looks exactly like the paper version of The Wall Street Journal, only better. The pictures move (as in video). Rotating 90 degrees gives me landscape instead of portrait. Swiping a finger turns the page instantly and effortlessly (try that in the center seat of the plane). Touching an item jumps straight to a story. Pinching the screen takes me back to where I was. The screen and the touch are fabulous. Put your mouse out to pasture.

This is as different from a laptop as a car is from a bike. It’s as easy to handle as an iPhone but bigger, much bigger (roughly seven times the screen area), which makes a screen-based keypad actually usable. I can type without fat-fingering every fifth letter.

The iPad is so intuitive (at least for an iPhone owner) that no manual or tutoring is required. Still, the amazing team at the Apple Store in Shadyside spent a full hour (during the busiest day of their professional lives) boosting me up the learning curve.

So now I’m also a new subscriber to Apple’s MobileMe service ($69.95 for Year 1). If I lose my iPad (or more likely, misplace my iPhone), I can see on a map exactly where I left either. Even if my iPhone is in silent mode, I can click a button and it starts beeping loudly. I can’t wait until this works for my car keys too (Apple iKey?).

iPad for Social Networking

I’m out of room for this article but would be remiss if I didn’t mention the last, best feature of the iPad: Awesome social networking. While TweetDeck (Twitter) ascends to a whole other level on this device, that’s not quite how I mean it.

I hesitate to reveal more for fear of accelerating Apple’s sales to an altitude that the company can’t support. I’ll just say to you men out there: If you buy one of these before your grandmother does (and she will), you’ll connect with more women in the following days than you’ve met in the past few years. I can’t explain the iPad?s allure but it’s a better chic-magnet than a puppy or baby.

I probably shouldn?t have revealed that secret but it’s no lie. Talk about an unfair advantage over the Amazon Kindle e-reader.