Reviews

Quick Review: Kindle on iPad

Kindle on iPad is, well, not as good as Kindle on a Kindle or iBooks. That's going to be the bottom line for a lot of people. It works in both portrait and landscape - though curiously I can't find a way to get a two-column book view in landscape. You can do most of the traditional ebook things: change the font size, adjust brightness, jump to any point in the book, have your place saved, etc. On Kindle you can also bookmark pages and add your own notes - all of which get synced up to Amazon's cloud so you can see them on other Kindle devices like your iPhone, a Kindle, etc.

Instead of an in-app store, Amazon sends you to Safari to browse and search for Kindle book - which I don't find especially annoying because the iPad's web browser is so good. Amazon has a slightly better selection of books than Apple does too, though in both cases I often find myself stymied when trying to find a particular book.

With both Kindle and iBooks my basic feeling is that they're good for light reading, but the difficulty of entering and exporting notes means that while I'll use them for entertainment, I won't use them for 'serious' work.

Hopefully Amazon will update this app to support two-column landscape mode soon.

Video and gallery after the break!

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Native iPad apps vs. "pixel doubling" iPhone apps

How do native iPad apps compare with "pixel doubling" iPhone/iPod touch apps on the iPad? When Steve Jobs and Scott Forstall first introduced their magical new device, one of the bullet points hardest hit was that most of the (then) 150,000 iPhone apps would "just work" on the iPad -- either letter-and-pillar boxed, 1:1 in the center of the iPad screen, or with 2X "pixel doubling" that made both horizontal and vertical sizes twice as big (480x320 iPhone apps would show up as 960x640 on the iPad's 1024x768 screen).

It looked fine on the videos but people on the scene said there was a little (or more than a little) jagged edged, aliases, blurred chunk going on in there.

So we put some games and other apps to the test to see for ourselves and the verdict...

Eh, they're alright. The looks faired from okay to pretty good, but when compared to native iPad apps you really notice the lack of iPad-ness -- like watching an SD movie blown up to HD, you start to miss the details. It's almost claustrophobic at times because you know a real iPad app could just blow out of those lower-res constraints. And while the sliding screens work really well on the iPhone, once you get used to popovers and sidebars on the iPad, you miss those as well when they're not present.

  • For Universal Binaries (apps with both iPhone and iPad interfaces included), this is a moot point of course. You get the best of both and a consistent experience between devices.
  • For free iPad apps, just download the higher res version. It can be a pain to double-up on your apps but it's worth it.
  • For paid apps, try the iPhone version first but check out the iPad versions and if the extra usability or functionality is worth it to you, get it.

I ended up getting almost all native iPad apps, but I'm a sucker for UI. If you've found any iPad versions you couldn't live without, or any you wish you hadn't spent the cash on, let us know in the comments!

Videos and screenshots after the break!

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Quick Review: TweetDeck on iPad

TweetDeck on the iPad is a mixed bag - most of the contents of that bag are utterly awesome for the power-twitter user. If you need to follow a lot of Twitter streams then there's simply no better way to track them all than TweetDeck. If you use TweetDeck on the desktop, you can set up a TweetDeck account and have your chosen columns synchronized between your desktop and iPad. If you have multiple Twitter accounts, you can send from multiple accounts too.

The not-so-awesome part of the bag comes when you want to view a link from a tweet. In landscape mode you simply can't. In portrait mode what happens is the tweet appears in a at the top of the screen. You can also view profiles, recent tweets, and more. For displaying a single tweet, that area is simply giant. For displaying a web page linked from a tweet, it's maddeningly small.

I said in the video that TweetDeck might my favorite iPad Twitter client, but I'm finding more and more that the portrait mode isn't quite working out for me.

Video and gallery after the break!

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Quick Review: Marvel Comics for iPad

Marvel Comics for iPad [Free - iTunes link] and iPhone [Free - iTunes link] finally brings one of the big two old media giants to the mobile age -- albeit kicking and screaming. And... this is the future of comic books. They look gorgeous on that big 1024x768 screen. There's a ton more functionality shown off in the video below but they get the core experience right and that's the most important thing.

There are other comic book stores and readers for iPad, and we'll be looking at them, but Marvel deserves huge kudos for even entering this space -- unlike DC which continues to sit on the sidelines, treating the digital revolution as confusingly as their cross-over events. (What?)

Now I'm a comic book geek from way, way back. Among my first comics were the now-Classic Dark Phoenix Saga from the X-Men. I love Marvel and I want to love this app. In many ways I do, but it makes me as angry as it does happy.

So if you just wanted to know about the app itself, stop reading and go get it. It's free. If you want to hear me rant because I care, read on after the break!

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Quick Review: Early Edition RSS Reader for iPad

Glasshouse Apps, makers of the gorgeous Barista and Cellar apps for iPhone and iPod touch is branching out for the iPad with Early Edition RSS [$4.99 - iTunes link] -- and yes, it's gorgeous.

Like Apple itself, they're going for a much more "real world" UI metaphor, in this case a newspaper. The main content is not so much flowed as typeset into place beneath the big, banner headline that's your latest article, and a cascade of older, and thus smaller, articles beneath it.

In landscape mode you get a sidebar similar to the built-in Notes app, with a circle around the currently viewed feed (or all feeds, the top choice). In portrait mode, you get a popover that serves the same function.

There's no Google Reader or Instapaper support yet (see comments, below) but they should be coming. That'll be a major drawback for some, but in the meantime you can add any feed you like with the handy plus button. (I cut and pasted Android Central's feed in from Safari with nary a problem).

Once loaded, tapping on a headline takes you to the RSS version of the article and you can toggle over to the web version in-app. In a nice touch, if you back out of an article and then tap it again, it remembers which state you were last in.

All the text showed up nicely rendered and easy to read, and graphics and even inline YouTube video were right there. I couldn't double tap to get the video full screen, but it played within the page just fine.

Note: they were kind enough to include TiPb's review feed as a default, along with TUAW, Apple Hot News, and some others. Risky, because if they mangled it our thanks could easily have turned into venomous sideways glares. Lucky for all involved, they nailed it.

If you're looking for RSS on your iPad, love good design, and Google Reader and Instapaper aren't "must haves" at this very moment, then check out Early Edition and let us know what you think!

Video and screen shots after the break!

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Quick Review: Crosswords on the iPad

My love of Crossword apps on mobile devices is no secret, so I was pleased to see that Standalone, Inc had their Crosswords app ready for the iPad at launch.

The phrase "just a big iPod Touch" is getting tossed around a lot this week and in some ways Crosswords is a perfect microcosm of that - some of the same iPhone screens and elements are available as pop-ups and in general there's no actual functionality that's available on the iPad version that you can't get on the iPhone -- except the gigantic screen. Portrait mode has enough space to show you a long list of clues, the keyboard, and in most cases the entire puzzle without zooming. Landscape is even better, giving you both the across and down clues in separate columns, the keyboard, and a zoomed-in view of the puzzle.

Naturally, there are plenty of features like hints, the ability to tweet your time, and of course the ability to download dozens of different crossword puzzles every day from both free and for-pay premium sources.

Video demo and gallery after the break!

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iPad Video: ABC, Netflix, and Videos Apps

We have to say we're pretty excited about the streaming video possibilities on the iPad. So excited, in fact, that the YouTube app feels pretty much like old hat. Jeremy already took a quick look at Netflix on the iPad and the verdict is that it works and the magic of simply having Netflix streaming on an iPad does much to overcome the fact that what you essentially have here is an app made of up Netflix's webpage.

ABC Video, however, is much more elegant and is a nicer iPod app. You get a set of tabs at the bottom for viewing video, your video history, and even a schedule of ABC shows. The video looks crisp to my eyes, but I'm especially impressed at how well the app saves my place on the various shows I've watched.

A quick video comparison of ABC, Netflix, and the default Videos app, along with a gallery of ABC and Netflix, are after the break!

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Quick Review: Twittelator Pad for iPad

I've spent a good time of today tweeting from Twittelator Pad [$4.99 - iTunes link], and I must say that I'm rather impressed.

Twittelator Pad is best viewed in landscape. On the left hand side, your timeline is displayed in a nice traditional fashion and on the right hand side is where you can access all other features of Twittelator Pad. Choosing different tabs on the bottom has nice animations that are appealing to the eye.

One of my favorite features of Twittelator Pad is that photos are embedded into your timeline and conversations. In most cases, pictures are plenty large enough with no need to enlarge them. Twittelator Pad also has a nice drafts feature that is easily accessible when you need it.

So far, Twittelator Pad has given me the Twitter experience I desire on the iPad. To see what Twittelator Pro has to offer in more detail, check out the screenshots and video after the break!

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Quick Review: Plants vs. Zombies for iPad

We are pretty sure by now most of you have heard of a little game called Plants vs. Zombies from the developer Popcap. TiPb would now like to introduce you to Plants vs. Zombies HD. [iTunes Link - $9.99] Right away I know what many of you may be thinking, why spend another $9.99 on a app I always paid for on my iPhone or iPod touch? I am here to tell you that if you love the game on any platform - buy it for iPad as you will not regret it. Plants vs. Zombies HD on iPad is the best way to experience this game.

The iPad version is identical to it's iPhone counterpart in the gameplay aspect but is much more graphically pleasing to the eye on iPad. You defend your home from invading zombies with an arsenal of 49 zombie destroying plants. The plants (a.k.a. weapons) available to you include peashooters, wall-nuts, cherry bombs and more to dismember the 26 different types of zombies. Along with all of this zombie action you get five game modes:

  • Adventure: 50 levels — Play through day, night and fog, in a swimming pool and on the rooftop.
  • Mini-Games
  • Puzzle
  • Survival
  • Stress Free Zen Garden

Screenshots after the break!

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Quick Review: Netflix for iPad

You say you just picked up a new iPad and wanted to sit back and watch your favorite episode of Lost or perhaps a blockbuster movie? If you are a Netflix member you can do just that with the official Netflix iPad application! [iTunes Link - Free]

All you have to do is download the Netflix app from the App Store and you can instantly watch TV shows and movies directly on your iPad. Once you start the app you will be taken to the Netflix website that seems to be optimized for iPad and you will enter in your password and username and everything will be familiar. If you start to watch a movie from your computer or TV and want to resume it on your iPad, you can. Even better is that since the app uses the web interface you have the ability to manage your que or make any account adjustments directly from your iPad.

I've been playing around with it for a while now and must say it is very snappy with no lag in the UI and the video content streams flawlessly. This is a must have for all Netflix users out there!

Screenshots after the break!

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