Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Not another iPad review -- Part 2


And here's the second installment of my iPad review. If you missed the first part, click here to read about books, magazines and comics on the iPad. This part's all about surfing, games and work -- the last bastion of laptop computers.



Surfing

Browsing stuff just works. The experience is just as good as it is on a PC, with a few shortcomings.

You skip through different pages like this

Safari is a pretty robust browser that loads pages quickly given you have a speedy connection, and the size of the iPad is just right for web pages. Changing orientation to horizontal helps matters along further.
 

Notice the missing Flash banner

Of course, there's no Flash for Safari on the iPad, which means no YouTube videos (you'll have to use the app instead), and a bunch of holes in a number of sites. It wasn't such a big issue for the sites that I visit, but it really depends on what sites you like to go to. Most advertising/marketing sites simply won't work as they're fond of Flash.

The other problem I encountered while surfing is that Google Docs doesn't work properly on the iPad. You're dumped on a mobile version of Google Docs and accessing the desktop version still doesn't give you access to your files. (Why? Why? WHHHYY?) This is a huge letdown. As any Google Docs user knows, this would have been a great alternative to iWork on the iPad.

Everything else is ace on the browser side of things. You'll find yourself grabbing your iPad more often than your laptop for your surfing needs.

Safari isn't your only choice when it comes to browsers either. There's Atomic browser as well as Opera browser available on the app store. Atomic browser lets you surf with tabs, which is pretty neat.


 
Games

What you get on the iPhone or iPod Touch is basically the same thing you get with the iPad. So all that Tap Tap nonsense and all those tower defense games survive intact on the iPad. For fans of casual games, this is good news. Nintendo and Sony however don't need to be too worried just yet.


Mostly, you get larger versions of games that have been successful on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Plants versus Zombies, Flight Control, Peggle, Tetris, all the usual suspects. The bigger screen does somehow make these games more pleasing, but gameplay doesn't change much, if at all. Tap Tap Radiation gets honorable mention as a fascinating departure from the usual Tap Tap games. You now have to chase the touch pads around the screen.


More "hardcore" games are also starting to appear on the iPad, such as Command & Conquer: Red Alert and Civilization Revolution (sadly not available in the Philippine App Store), but these appeared first on the iPhone, so again, nothing new here.

I'd like to see some games that really break new ground. At the very least, it would be nice if they could port some of the existing game genres to the iPad. Right now you've got some racing, some shooters, and a whole bunch of puzzle/block games and tower defense games. I'd trade an arm to see proper role-playing games or the big titles you see on the consoles -- even if it means adding a controller.

Games have a long way to go on the iPad. It looks promising though, but we'll have to see what the developers can come up with in the months to come.



 
Work

So far so good, but doing actual work is where this whole iPad thing falls down. There's iWork for iPad, as well as a sprinkling of other Office-type apps, but getting your files to and from the app is deeply flawed, mostly because on the iPad you have no access to the file system.
 


So how do you get the files on your computer to your iPad? For iWork, you sync your files via iTunes and it's a terrible bother doing so. I'd kill to be able to zip files back and forth via Wi-Fi and Bonjour like other apps do. (Comic Zeal does it, why not iWork?) Luckily, if you have Dropbox on your computer and the app, you can send files that are saved to your Dropbox account in the cloud to your iWork apps.

Once the files are there, there are only two ways out: 1) via email, or 2) via iTunes. Ugh.

Speaking of email, if you want to check your email in the middle of writing a Pages doc or making a Keynote prez, you'll have to exit your current app and open the Mail app. If you want to do anything actually -- open your Evernote, open the calculator, send an IM -- you have to close the app, do your thing, then open the app again. That's because there's NO MULTITASKING YET. What a bother.

iPhone OS 4, which includes multitasking, is supposedly coming late this year, so if you have any plans of working on an iPad, you'd best wait until then.
 


UPDATE: Thank heavens for DocsToGo. They recently updated their app for the iPad and if you upgrade to the Premium version ($5.99), you'll get full syncing with Dropbox and Google Docs and a bunch of other services. You can also sync via Wi-Fi with your desktop. And if you like the iTunes method, you can always sync through iTunes. And you get to edit Word, and PowerPoint files for cheaper than iWork. And the PDF viewer is excellent too. So what's the catch? Bluetooth keyboard integration isn't so hot -- the arrow keys weren't recognized in the app -- and opening a doc file on my computer revealed that the fonts weren't the same when they looked the same on DocsToGo. Even then, it's not too shabby. A couple more updates should fix these issues.

It syncs with everything!

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