The iPad is one of the most entertaining entertainment devices since the original iPod, and even more important, it’s a breakthrough device that makes technology instantly accessible to ordinary people. Apple has long had a knack for designing complete products that appeal to both geeks and technophobes. Now it’s even gone beyond that, crafting something that a child or a grandparent can take to with ease. This is a device that brings all of the fun but none of the complications associated with a computer.
The iPad is all about the screen. At 9.7in the colour screen may be small, but its IPS (In-Plane Switching) technology makes it look good from any angle. Some iPad sceptics have described the iPad as no more than a big iPod touch, and the iPad’s comparatively large display certainly makes it the best ‘iPod’ for movie-watching yet. It’s also the first ‘iPod’ that two or more people can comfortably watch together, at least if they’re in close quarters, such as in adjacent airplane seats (and if they have the device nicely propped up). In fact, the iPad may be the best in-flight entertainment system ever designed, offering movies, games and more. And around the house, the tablet can serve as a sort of portable TV/boom box – its built-in speaker may be mono, but it’s loud and clear. In fact, the quality of the device’s built-in speaker is impressive, especially compared to the iPod touch’s speaker (terrible) or iPhone’s speaker (less terrible).
That said, if one were to nitpick, it would be to carp about the speaker’s one-sided nature. The speaker port is at the bottom of the device. When you turn the iPad to landscape orientation to watch a video, you hear most of the sound from the side of the iPad where the speaker port sits, making the sound unbalanced.
When it comes to content, the iPad gives you everything that you can get on any iPod, and more. Rent a movie or download a series of your favourite TV programme. And even if you don’t feel like buying your entertainment from iTunes, a wealth of stuff to see and hear is available, although we’re waiting to hear when the BBC iPlayer will be available on the iPhone.
With its 9.7in screen the iPad is certainly more appropriate for viewing content than the iPhone or iPod, but will this convince you to leave your MacBook in the corner? And when viewing movies and other video the iPad screen really shines – but does it shine too much, and can you ignore your reflection?
The real bonus of the iPad, when it comes to watching movies and other video content, is its portability and battery life, which will give you enough power for a long-haul flight between London and San Francisco. If you want to be entertained while in transit there is no better device for the job. Sure, you could pack your laptop, but it will weigh you down, and while the iPhone is great for watching the odd TV programme or film, the screen really is tiny.