Ryan Block, a former editor-in-chief of AOL’s Engadget who now runs the tech-thingamajig community site GDGT, was standing outside San Francisco’s Union Square Apple Store around lunchtime today. Block was there to pick up a review loaner from Apple.

What’s the coolest thing about the iPad, we asked? Block’s reply reminded me why I like him: “I don’t know yet,” he said. Many gadget blogs and tech news sites have already compiled lists of the top iPad apps, before actually trying them on a real iPad. “I could tell you what the best-looking ones are,” Block shrugged, but he’s waiting until he’s had more hands-on time before issuing any proclamations.

Apple’s launch strategy for the iPad was shrewd that way. A few well-placed reviewers seeded the Internet with hands-on reviews, but far more buzz was generated by TV celebrities waving iPads around on NBC, CBS, ABC and the Comedy Channel this week. David Letterman and Stephen Colbert both gloated about their iPads, without much knowing what to do with them.

On Thursday, Apple surprised app makers by unveiling the iPad section of its app store two days early. To be cruelly honest, watching PR people and gadget bloggers scurry to get app reviews and top ten lists published immediately was fun. But the result feels a bit dishonest: Recommendations of apps, complete with screenshots and demo videos, by supposed experts who hadn’t yet touched an iPad. Remind me again why I should believe anything they say?

[Photo: JP Manninen]