Over brunch on Easter with our friends, Steve and Marlene, at Home on the Range in Black Rock, one of our favorite places, Marlene asked my wife, "So are you thinking about getting an iPad?"

"What's an iPad?" my wife said.

"It's a small, lightweight tablet you can drop right into your purse or briefcase," Marlene pointed out. "And you can use it for e-mails, Web access, downloading books or magazines and movies, as well as tons of games among other things. But what's so great about the iPad is the size. You don't have to drag around a clunky laptop."

"And how much does it cost?" my wife inquired.

"About $499 to $699," Steve said. "It's like an overgrown iPhone or iPod."

That quickly ended the iPad conversation, since we certainly don't have the shekels to buy an iPad right now. But our discussion had piqued the interest of Dave, who was seated next to us at the restaurant, and who was more than happy to jump in.

That's what I love about Home on the Range. Everyone is so friendly that you may come in as strangers but you could leave as acquaintances. Steve and Dave, whom I learned later was a sports writer for the Advocate in Stamford and had also written for the Citizen, spent a good 20 minutes on the pros and cons of Apple's latest toy.

Dave shared that he was thinking about heading down to the Apple store in Greenwich that afternoon to be sure he got one of the first of these little treasures, but wasn't sure if the place would be open. We all agreed that not many retailers would go against their practice of closing for Easter Sunday, but for this product, maybe a few places like Best Buy might court hungry computer nerds who were trying to be the first in their neighborhood to enter iPad land.

It turned out from the newspaper accounts the following day that none of us needed to worry about being able to find an iPad. According to a piece in the Monday Wall Street Journal, one analyst projected that just over 7 million iPad would be sold worldwide this year, but believes that in comparison with a conventional cell phone or computer the iPad will be a device that people may want but don't need.

Amen. With so many devices out there already, I'm not sure how many more toys we can absorb in our already computer-isolated society. I actually chuckled when I read about a woman in Michigan who immediately downloaded the Bible when she picked up her iPad. She wanted it for church. My gosh. Is nothing sacred?

I will admit that being able to subscribe and download magazines is intriguing, but not enough to spend the $500 on even the least expensive iPad. I honestly could see myself doing no work at all and being totally caught up in iPad land.

Analysts estimated that hyped up first customers probably bought about 700,000 units nationwide on the first day but few stores sold out. I doubt if Steve and Marlene were among those first to purchase a unit after our brunch.

I will admit that I'm intrigued by the Kindle and similar devices, and the price is about half of what the least expensive iPad sells for. While we're tempted, neither my wife nor I have purchased one of those units and I'm sure we won't until we see a really reduced price.

My other concern is how often I'll use an iPad. These days, my workload is pretty heavy and my evenings are catch-up time on other work. I doubt if I'd truly get my money's worth.

By the way, I forgot to mention that a high point of our brunch at Home on the Range was the sighting of the guy who does the Apple commercials on TV, who was enjoying Easter breakfast with his family. Steve discreetly pointed him out to us and said that he lives in Fairfield. I definitely didn't embarrass myself by rushing over to get an autograph, but it was tempting.

Meanwhile, it was nice to get a brief education from Marlene and Steve about the iPad and hear about it on the weekend it was introduced. I may get up close and personal in a store soon and try one out, but I'm definitely a long way away from buying. I have to believe that in a year or so, the price will come down radically and a new round of buyers will be at the table. Maybe I'll be one of them.

Steve Gaynes can be reached at steven.gaynes@yahoo.com.