I don't have an iPad but am wondering if it might be a good way to access my home PC when travelling. I run Windows7 and I understand iPad has remote desktop-type apps but how do you actually get it working across home firewalls and all that stuff? Also are there any clever tricks to cope with my home PC needing a restart, or being allowed to standby/hibernate, so it doesn't have to be in full running mode 24/7?
I use TeamViewer for my remote desktop needs. It has the advantage of having a free iPad version, and having some NAT traversal magic sprinkled on it so it gets past my NAT router without any configuration.
TeamViewer isn't the only option. A friend of mine swears by Logmein, but the iPad app does come with a price.
You can use wake-on-lan to wake up computers in sleep. There are a bunch of wake-on-lan apps available on the AppStore. Myself I just leave the computer on so I haven't tested any of them. In order to use wake-on-lan the computer needs to support it and it needs to be enabled in BIOS. In order to do it remotely you will also need to do some port forwarding on you router.
A quick google seems to recommend iNet WOL as a good wake-on-lan app, but I haven't tried it myself.
I use the iRdesktop app. I used to use one called RDP Lite, but imo iRdesktop was much nicer. It's possible RDP Lite has improved since then, but I haven't had a need to find out.