Posts tagged tablet
I was lucky enough to get an iPad recently. I can truthfully say that it is my best ever gadget purchase. The iPad has not been designed as a general purpose computer and that is its biggest strength. It excels at web browsing, audio/video playback, as a book reader and at gaming. Below I’ll cover some of the apps I’ve been using to help me perform these tasks.
Safari is still the best mobile web browser I have used. The iPad version is basically the same as that of the iPhone. There are some tweaks to make better use of the screen real estate. This is most noticeable in the “tab” view for viewing multiple pages simultaneously. Although Flash is a noticeable absence from the iPad, I have not found it to be much of a problem. All of the video sites I frequent (YouTube, Vimeo, Funny or Die) support either HTML 5 or iPad compatible video. This results in a far better experience than even Flash video on the desktop. A simple pinch zoom brings an embedded video to full screen. It’s great.
It isn’t all good though. I am often left waiting for sections of a page to render even if it has already been recently rendered. This occurs when you are panning around a large website. This may be related to the small amount of memory given to the iPad (256MB). I also find the iPad redownloading a lot of content that you might expect to be cached. This often occurs when you navigate back and may also be due to the small amount of memory.
My media setup is made up of a Thecus NAS with TwonkyMedia server serving to my PS3. This works great for all of the many media formats that can be natively played by the PS3. For other files I use the fantastic PS3 Media Server which serves the same files on my NAS but adds a seamless transcoding function.
I wanted this same experience on my iPad so that it could act as another “screen” for local content. I first investigated DLNA/UPNP clients which would allow me to browse my Twonky server. There are a few of these but the main limiting factor is the iPad and its inability to play content in anything other than its preferred format. After some brief investigations into PS3 Media Server support for iPad, I eventually turned to another iPad app and matching software called Air Video. This works in a similar way to PS3 Media Server by providing a seamless transcoding experience especially for the iPhone and iPad. It isn’t free and it isn’t UPNP compatible but it has successfully transcoded every video I have thrown at it thus far.
I was already a Kindle owner, so for me the Amazon Kindle application for iPad was a must. This app seamlessly turns your iPad into another Kindle compatible device. All of your books will automatically appear on your iPad just as they did on your Kindle. The iPad is a solid book reader. For large format books or for books with detailed illustrations the iPad is far better than my Kindle (international, non DX). For reading basic novels I prefer the smaller and lighter Kindle. One thing I did notice was that I seemed to get less drowsy when reading from the iPad versus the Kindle. This can be good in some situations but is obviously not preferable before bedtime. Another issue which became apparent was that the iPad provided unlimited sources of distraction from the books I was attempting to read.
I use this reasonably priced piece of software to remotely control my Windows 7 machines via RDP. This software is simple to use and quite fast over my wireless-G network. The good thing about this application when compared with others is that it allows for direct interaction. By this I mean that to click a button you simply touch it. Other RDP/VNC tools first make you move the mouse cursor to a position before you can click it. One example of this iTeleport.
This is a rather pricey app that can be used for accessing your computers via VNC. The creators of this app also provide a number of additional OSX/Windows tools for helping you configure your firewall settings, port forwarding/UPNP. These may be useful for beginners but I found they just got in the way. As expected VNC was not as fast as RDP on a Windows machine. Also, the non-direct way of interacting with the host system (via the movement of a virtual mouse pointer) was quite annoying.
iNet provides a number of useful networking tools. This application is actually an iPhone application. I can put up with the iPad’s awful 2x scaling of iPhone apps because i use the wake on LAN function of this app to turn on my computers from my couch.
Although ridiculously priced, this app should be good. There a number of other sports apps in the AppStore that are designed to augment your TV viewing experience. As my sport of choice is F1 I coughed up the money for this app which should provide live timing and track position during practice sessions, qualifying and grand prixs. My first use should be at next week’s Spanish grand prix.
This game will appeal to anyone who likes Diablo or Torchlight. This game has all of the right ingredients and is fun to play but it is let down by its horrible leveling/balancing. It gets easier as you progress through the game to the point that you don’t really feel the need for new gear or attributes. I hope someone can fix this as the iPad is awesome for this style of game.
This is my favorite racer on the iPhone and it’s even better on the iPad. Although it pretends to be a simulation style racer, the car dynamics are far from realistic. This is probably for the best given the limited control inputs available. Heaps of tracks and great graphics make this game worthy of its premium pricing.
Tower defense games are brilliant on iPad. Field runners is one of the best. It has great graphics and is highly addictive.
This game is pretty much the same as it is on every other platform. It still provides some pretty intense arcade style fun. The virtual analogue controllers mean you won’t be as accurate as you would be on other platforms. Still this is worh the money especially if you are yet to try this great game.
This is the iPad version of the best selling iPhone game. In this game you direct planes and helicopters into runways and helipads in an attempt to avert inevitable fiery disasters. In this version they have added some splitscreen multiplayer modes and 3D?!? This game spawned a host of other “path drawing” games and is probably still the best.
This is another very popular game which has come from the iPhone. In it you shoot angry birds at mean pigs in all kinds of breakable environments. I don’t think the iPad has added anything to the enjoyment of this game but it was pretty fun to start with so that’s ok.
So, are there any other apps I should be using? I have omitted the Apple provided apps like iBooks and iWork as these are not yet available to Australians. In fact the iPad AppStore app itself is unavailable. For the moment i am forced to get all my apps through iTunes and then sync via USB. It’s a good thing the iPad is an incredible device because iTunes is rubbish.
See the videos and make up your own mind.