ipad1[4] Jason Hiner has an interesting post on ZDNet about why the iPad is “only good for two things.” Of course, those two things are pretty big areas, and it should come as no surprise that one of them is e-reading.

Hiner says that the iPad is best for “reading and viewing”, and largely narrows that down to e-book reading, as it’s too awkward to hold it to consume movies or music for a long period of time.

But, as a reader, the iPad is admittedly amazing because of its brilliant full color screen, touch-based interface, and long battery life. And when I say “reader” I mean reader in the broadest sense of the term. As you’d expect, it’s great for reading news, books, static web pages, emails, long PDFs, and business documents. (For just reading books, the Amazon Kindle is still superior, but for omnivorous readers the iPad is the new king.)

He points out that it’s really handy to be able to turn it on instantly and to be able to flip the screen around to show someone else a document or image, to the point where he could sometimes do without his laptop altogether.

The other area where the iPad really shines is the multi-touch interaction—being able to drag things from place to place quickly and intuitively. He uses the example of Scrabble as remarkably easy to learn, thanks to the interface that mostly just involves dragging things back and forth.

One of the areas where the iPad has trouble, Hiner says, is in document processing. Not in text entry—he finds the iPad’s keyboard perfectly adequate for just writing—but doing more complicated things like adding links is difficult to impossible.

Thinking about it, I find I have to agree with Hiner. Most of what I do with my iPad involves either reading of some kind (e-books, RSS feeds, Flipboard) or similarly text-based social networking. The iPad is a completely awesome document-viewing device, and it works well for playing multi-touch-related games such as, yes, Scrabble. But it doesn’t surpass a computer with dedicated keyboard in a lot of ways.