The iPad vs. Everything Else

Can Apple's much-hyped tablet replace your notebook, e-reader, smartphone, audio player, magazines, or gaming device?

By  |  Sunday, May 2, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Our Eight Favorite iPad Applications

USA Today: USA Today’s free app is the best of the daily-newspaper entries, with a layout that closely mimics the dead-tree version while adding cool interactive slideshows, graphics, and polls.

Netflix: Putting Netflix’s im pressive stable of streamable movies on the iPad’s brilliant screen is a no-brainer (you’ll need a Wi-Fi connection). The app is free, but you must pay at least $9 a month for a Netflix account to stream movies.

Sketchbook Pro: If what you miss most from kindergarten is finger painting, then download this $8 app. The controls are easy to master, but are still sophisticated enough to create real beauty in the right hands.

IMDb: You’ll find no better way to settle a barroom bet over which of the Baldwins was in The Usual Suspects(Stephen, BTW) than to turn to this free app, which allows you to dig deep into the well-known online treasure trove of cinematic trivia.

Magic Piano: Play traditional keyboard classics such as “Für Elise” and “Flight of the Bumblebee” through this $1 app’s fun, Guitar Hero-like interface.

Marvel: This free app presents the adventures of masked avengers in a whole new way–it moves you automatically from frame to frame of an illustrated story with merely the flick of a finger.

Epicurious: If you don’t mind a few sauce splatters on your iPad, the free Epicurious app is a near-perfect kitchen companion, and you can search through hundreds of recipes. The app puts together a shopping list for selected recipes and provides easy-to-read instructions.

Instapaper: Perfect for people with a Wi-Fi-only iPad. If you come across an interesting article, click Instapaper’s ‘Read Later’ bookmarklet in your computer’s browser. Instapaper ($5) strips out the ads and sends it to your iPad.

–Edward N. Albro

iPad Gaming: Compelling–and Awkward

As a gaming device, the iPad has lots going for it. The display is large and gorgeous, the processor is snappy, and the multitouch interface allows for innovative ways to play. Plus, the App Store is a model of instant gratification: You can snap up relatively cheap games wirelessly. But don’t toss out your Nintendo DS or Sony PSP yet.

The first question for iPad gamers is this: How the heck are we supposed to hold this thing? At 1.5 pounds, it might seem light, but holding it aloft for extended play sessions can be tiring. Trickier still is playing when you can’t get a seat or are in a crowd: Try flailing your arms around to steer that sports car while you’re standing on a packed bus.

And then there’s the button issue. Steve Jobs hates them, but buttons are an important reason why the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP work so well: If you need to reload your weapon in a first-person shooter, your thumb can find that button easily while you concentrate on ducking behind a wall.

The iPad’s controls are frequently just on-screen icons or arbitrary tapping patterns. It’s no fun being fragged because your thumb is a half-inch off the trigger.

For some game genres, however, the iPad shines. The de vice is big enough to be shared, making board games like Scrabble feasible. Strategy and tower-defense games benefit from the large space; the interface makes it simple to place structures and issue blanket orders to large groups. Micromanagement is still tricky without a keyboard and mouse, but the iPad’s implementation of such games is superior to anything that consoles–portable or otherwise–have attempted.

Verdict: The iPad is a game-changer for some genres, but most mobile gamers will still want to hold on to their DS or PSP.

–Nate Ralph



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16 Comments For This Post

  1. ediedi Says:

    So, in conclusion, why would one (who presumably owns a laptop and a smartphone) get an iPad, unless one is a gadget freak?

  2. Harry McCracken Says:

    Being a gadget freak definitely helps. And nobody -needs- an iPad (except, maybe, for people in the media and software business–if you create content or write apps, I think you need to understand this gadget by using it).

    After a month, I’m finding myself using the iPad as a reading device (very often), a music and movie device (sometimes), a gaming machine (not too often, but I plan to do more), and a miscellaneous app platform (Facebook, Foursquare, etc). I use it a lot around the house, and sometimes around town (especially on the subway), and had a blast with it on the one plane trip I’ve been on.

    When I want to write (such as blog), I use a notebook. When I want to do graphics work (such as images for my blog), I use Photoshop on a notebook.

    In the old days, many of us had a desktop and a laptop; today, the desktop is optional. For those of us who are down to just a notebook, I see the iPad as serving a similar role to that which the laptop did in desktop-dominated days–a secondary, more convenient device.


  3. Phil Says:

    I totally disagree on the iPad/Kindle part. The Kindle is fabulous – I don’t need color to read and on the Kindle I can read with one hand, turn pages without fingerprints, read on the beach, download a book from anywhere, I could go on and on. The Kindle is the best device I have ever purchased – it goes everywhere with me. I can’t see buying an iPad unless I wanted a toy, and had a ton of expendable money that I couldn’t put to better use. And I don’t want to be tethered to a computer, OR Apple’s iTunes programs to do anything. A Kindle needs no computer. Look at the instructions – “System Requirements: None”.

  4. Ediedi Says:

    ” I see the iPad as serving a similar role to that which the laptop did in desktop-dominated days–a secondary, more convenient device.” – thats the best definition i heard for the ipad. Put this way, it kinda makes me consider one.

  5. Ed Renehan Says:

    I’m loving the Kindle for iPad app. Complete Kindle functionality with additional iPad bells and whistles available via the same device.

  6. Dru Richman Says:

    Harry McCracken said: “And nobody -needs- an iPad (except, maybe, for people in the media and software business…”

    And my Mom who is happily computer challenged. Oh, and my grandparents. And, of course, my physician who uses it to take notes during patient visits (that are then send to the patient’s file, wirelessly). Then there’s my neighbor’s kids, who carry almost 50 pounds of books home with them every day would probably appreciate carrying a 1.5 pound device with ALL of their textbooks inside. I’d imagine that the auto technician would be happy NOT to have to paw through four hugh technical manuals to find the parts to repair my car…I could go on, but you get the point.

  7. axt113 Says:

    Yeah like any idiot would give their kid a $500 Ipad to carry around, ROFLMAO

    Next day kid comes home with a broken Ipad, or saying their ipad was lost/stolen, parent is out $500, and needs to buy replacement books for kid.

    As for the other people, just use android, more powerful and cheaper

  8. Dru Richman Says:

    axt113 said: “Yeah like any idiot would give their kid a $500 Ipad to carry around…”

    You obviously either don’t have kids or have such a low opinion of them that you probably shouldn’t.

    In reality over 50% of kids under 15 own a cell phone or smartphone. In Maine, every student from the 6th grade onward is provided with an Apple laptop. Are the parents ultimately responsible. You betcha! And while there have been some instance of problems, the most striking result is that test scores have dramatically increased and truancy has dramatically decreased.

  9. Tech Says:

    The iPad still comes out on top.

  10. Gp Says:

    Always was anti Apple, tIll I had a stroke, then saw how useful the iPhone was. Liked the ease of use and convenient size/screen, along with huge choice of useful free n cheap apps. So I was really open to the iPad, and bought one 1st day while passing Apple store in late morning after the initial rush and saw only 3 people in line. Used/played with it for 2 weeks, returned it within return period, and bought the 3G version for use while traveling x-country.
    Really handy for reading Nytimes, emails etc, perfect for watching Netlix and ABC past shows, can’t wait for Hulu app. The instant “ON” makes it so convenient in addition to true 10 hr battery. Lots of plusses.

  11. William Carr Says:

    You kind of dropped the ball in comparing the Kindle to the iPad when you listed the Kindle as $259.

    The Kindle DX is the same size as the iPad, and costs $489.00

    So you’re comparing the mini-size Kindle without automatic rotation to the iPad.

    That’s not quite honest, is it?

  12. Harry McCracken Says:

    @William Carr: Hmmm? Not sure if I get your point, especially about not being honest. I’m aware of the Kindle DX but chose to compare the iPad against what’s clearly the best-selling Kindle, the standard version. I made no claims that I was comparing the iPad against the model closest to it in pricetag and screen size.


  13. kindle books Says:

    i like your product more reliable first time i get this useful thing so i will use it in my regular data.

  14. Facebook Likes Says:

    Mostly people prefer kindle reason is that kindle Amazon product in this time Amazon is a company that gave you quick response like replacement and other problems.
    Amazon worked all over the world like from advanced country to third world country provide kindle book with out delivery charges.
    So mostly guys like this company and trust on kindle books.

  15. Web Develpment Says:

    I pad is urgent use packet directory that help your urgent response when you went any where then you solve your problems. computer is a heavy device you can handle easily so if you use Ipad that good for you.

  16. Fiddle Lessons Says:

    I have I pad problem with operating like when i open Ms Office 2007 don't open excel file error in different type other language appear. How i solve this problems if you have any guide please share here.