Early adopters of the iPad prefer free content and ad-supported apps on the device rather than paying for content that is limited to one device.

The study, from research firm Knowledge Networks, is titled, How People Use Media: iPads -- A First Look. It surveyed 205 iPad owners and found most users are not paying directly for content. Six out of seven people surveyed say their top activity on the iPad is web surfing and email.

Early-adopters are currently treating the iPad as an Internet appliance, said David Tice, vice president at Knowledge Networks, in a statement.

Media companies and other content creators cannot assume that iPod behaviors -- purchasing content for the device -- will be immediately transferred to the iPad. In our early-adopter group, we saw, by nearly a 6-to-1 ratio, that iPad users prefer an ad-supported model over a pay model to gain access to content. At this point, a pay-for-content model would appeal only to a niche group of consumers.

The study compares the behavior of an ad-supported media model compared to a direct payment model, as seen on the iPod. Seventy percent of iPad owners have read an e-book on it; 61 percent an electronic magazine or journal; and 51 have watched network TV programs. Despite this, only 13 percent said they would be willing to pay extra for an iPad-friendly version of that content.

Rather than the pay-for-content model, people are looking at apps from Netflix, Slingbox and YouTube as the way to watch content. To buy content such as a TV show directly for the iPad, users would have to go through iTunes.

iPad users do use the device frequently according to the study. Seventy six percent of owners use the iPad at least five days a week, while 55 percent of owners use the device every day.