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It ain't an iPad till its got the right apps

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The can be hammered into a content creation device – but not without hitches like it cannot open multiple windows while working – but where it really shines is as a content consumption device.

The iPad is built on its applications (apps) and is almost retrograde in nature. Why do we say that? Because it tries to turn us back into an audience again, instead of being content creators. This also explains why media companies and advertisers are lapping it up, it once again puts them in control of the consumer’s media experience.

But is that bad? Not really.

The apps
When you start using the iPad, you have to start with a clutch of apps from the Apple App Store — without these it’s just a pricey browsing and music device. We started our iPad tests with over 50 apps but eventually zeroed down to about 10 apps that one can use daily.

Since iPad is great at reading and viewing tasks, the apps that are used the most are Twitter, Facebook, Kindle, Evernote, Documents to Go and a few games.

The iPad is surprisingly a good note taker. The keyboard is as good as a laptop keyboard and the convenience of it being a portable device is a value-add. Evernote is a great note taking companion for the iPad, since it can auto-sync your meeting notes back to your PCs and smartphones. Just keep in mind that it’s an online service so you need to be connected at all times to access any saved data files. Office apps like Dataviz and Documents to Go can sync local files from your computer and also connect to cloud services like Google Docs, Dropbox and iDisk.

The Kindle app is a no-brainer if you are an avid reader. Kindle, Amazon’s book reading platform, allows you to carry your book collection with you. The iPad comes with its own book reader, iBooks, but there are a few benefits to using Amazon’s Kindle app instead — a larger book collection and access to the community of reviewers on Amazon. Also, the biggest benefit of the Kindle app is the ability to stop reading a book on your iPad, and resume reading it on any other Kindle-powered device, like your iPhone.

Twitter’s official iPad app is the best way to access the microblogging site. Don’t miss the way the app exposes more or less info by simply sliding your finger left and right.

We also loved using the Flipboard app, one of the most talked-about iPad apps, which formats links your friends share on Twitter and Facebook into a beautiful magazine. It has been upgraded to support and making it the easiest way to browse your online social world.

Apple is pretty restrictive about the video formats it allows you to play. Officially m4v, .mp4, and .mov files can be played on the device and VLC media player opens your iPad up to a wide range of other formats. It’s really easy to get your files onboard, so you will be watching them on your shiny new tablet in no time.

Games can be the most addictive on the iPad’s glossy touchscreen. Games like Angry Birds HD, Fruit Ninja HD, TowerMadness HD, Scrabble HD and Real Racing HD kept us glued to the iPad for hours. The battery lasted for seven-and-a-half hours, but can vary depending on your web and Wi-Fi usage.

The experience
The BSNL 3G connection (Rs 999 for unlimited data) that we used for the iPad did not disappoint while browsing or sending emails. It was the inability to accomplish some of the most basic and important computing tasks like writing lengthy documents, inserting links and images that are painful on the iPad.

The multi-touch feature makes it an easy and intuitive platform while browsing web pages, using apps or even creating content. The launch of iOS 4.2, which promises to bring multi-tasking to the iPad, will be an important step forward. Future UI improvements should make it easier to deal with images and links while creating documents or emails on the iPad.

Verdict
The iPad is surprisingly good at such ‘limited’ content creation as spreadsheet editing, presentation tweaking and minor document edits while you are on the move or brainstorming with colleagues or attending discussions. But where it really shines is in its apps. The 60,000-odd apps made for the platform impart full justice to Steve Jobs’ creation — the 10-inch, touchscreen iPad retails at prices starting at Rs 27,900.

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