When I first saw the ipad, I thought “okay, so it’s a large iPhone”. It was obvious this device was going to be an interesting development, but I just wasn’t sure what I’d actually use it for. It wasn’t until I got my hands on one, that I grasped its full potential.
Everything my mobile phone can do, besides taking calls, my iPad can do it a touch better. It may not be as fully-functioning as my MacBook Pro, but to me, the iPad has filled the gap between the two.
The iPad offers a wonderfully immersive way to enjoy film, TV shows, online video, photos and, of course, web browsing. Though the screen resolution is, technically, inferior to that of the iPhone, the quality of the images is stunning. On a laptop, the keyboard and the sheer bulk of the device make it hard to forget that you’re using a computer. The iPad’s simple design pulls you in, making it possible to forget that you’re using a computer and just enjoy the content. Seamless connectivity helps here too, particularly on the 3G model, which will pull in web data even when there is no wireless network available. For web browsing, there is no better device than the iPad. For video content, the iPad is second only to your television.
The iPad has been pitched as a threat to ebook readers such as Amazon’s Kindle and the Sony Reader series. It’s easy to see why. Though more expensive than an ebook reader, the iPad’s flexibility makes it tempting for a casual reader. E-reader buffs will complain about the backlit LED screen, which is harder on the eyes than the e-Ink screen that comes with a Kindle. However, for short reading times – a commute, for example – the iPad does just fine and benefits from being able to ‘turn’ pages faster than an e-Ink reader can. Apple’s iBooks app provides a good reading environment, with beautiful attention to details such as page turning, but the British version will suffer by carrying only out-of-copyright books. That still means almost 20,000 titles but no recent releases until Apple is able to complete deals with publishers. However, that’s more of a problem for Apple than its customers because alternative reading apps are available. Amazon’s Kindle app and Kobo’s e-book app both offer bestsellers and their own, perfectly decent, reading software. Such choices mean that if you’re interested in e-books, the iPad offers a wider range of options than any dedicated e-reader.
Gaming was the surprise hit of the iPhone and iPod Touch apps so there are high hopes for the iPad as a games platform. Many of the early titles are remakes of previous successes. Field Runners, for example, which challenges you to create a maze of weapons in a bid to stop an army of nasties travelling from one side of the screen to the other, is every bit as addictive on the iPad as it was on the iPhone. It simply looks prettier. Other games, though, are boosted enormously by the new format. Civilization Revolutions, for example, a empire-building game, shines in this format. I’ve played variations of the Civilization series on desktops, laptops, games consoles and mobile phones but I can honestly say that the iPad was the format the series has been waiting for. Real time strategy games, indeed any game that works in essence like a board game, will shine on the iPad. And talking of board games, I highly recommend Scrabble, which allows iPhone users to use their handsets as a tile rack and the iPad as the board.