I just had another short spell in hospital and my love for the iPad just deepened. I'm writing a longer post on the apps I found useful there but the short form is that it made life a lot more pleasant.
Apart from being lighter than a laptop it is useful to have a device that can be recharged from the same gadget as your phone. It also has better games for hospital than any laptop - including a Windows laptop. You really want light entertainment and the ability to keep in touch with people. My iPad connected via 3G was just the thing.