Apple Computer released the iPad to the North American market over the weekend. News sites have given it blanket coverage all week long, and with more than 500,000 units sold, the iPad has reportedly debuted more strongly than the original iPhone.

This doesn’t surprise fans of the big fruit, who rate the tablet-style computing device as something far better than an oversized iPod Touch. While it replicates the thin, sleek and simple design pioneered by the iPhone and iPod Touch, the iPad’s larger screen size allows users to a more enjoyable interface with digital books and magazines. Apps will also be better presented on the iPad’s super-sized canvas, allowing for improved productivity and an enhanced multimedia experience. On the larger format screen, movies, games and music are primed to shine, giving new cred to Apple as THE entertainment machine maker du jour.

While currently unavailable locally – Apple says the iPad will be onsale in Australia in “late April” for an “unbelievable price” – that isn’t stopping some Australians from flying to the US and buying them before they’re available officially in our country.

The original iPhone sparked gadget envy, and the Apple iPad is expected to do something similar, with people rushing for their credit cards and ordering it in as quickly as possible. If you’re considering yourself to be one of these people, be aware, that the model currently onsale in the US is the Wi-Fi version, not the better spec’d Wi-Fi/3G version you can expect here later this month.