When it comes to reading Web pages, the App Store is once again the iPad's ace in the hole. The excellent iPhone app Instapaper shines even brighter on iPad, allowing you to save interesting items you've found on the Web and read them later. And NetNewsWire, the RSS feed reader, uses the extra screen space to make paging through your feeds as easy as reading a restaurant menu.
Now, no app on the iPad will let you view items created using Adobe's Flash technology and embedded in web pages. Apple omitted Flash from the iPhone three years ago and hasn't looked back. The popularity of the iPhone (and the wave of interest in the iPad) have succeeded in making Flash less of a must-have technology than it used to be. Many major Websites are replacing Flash or offering a Flash-free version as an alternative. Still, if viewing Flash-based content on the Web is a major part of your life--I'm thinking specifically of all the Flash games out there for kids and Facebook users--the iPad is not going to satisfy you.
Finally, let's not forget the variety of comic books and graphic novels that are out there, already being served by a half-dozen different apps. The iPad's big, color screen makes it the best device for reading comics in digital form yet invented. If you're a comic-book fan, buying an iPad is buying into the future of the medium.
So is the iPad a great device for reading? I have to say yes, mostly thanks to the remarkable flexibility allowed by the variety of apps in the App Store. Now, people who find it hard to stare at backlit LCD screens for long periods of time will probably not share this opinion; but as someone who stares at backlit computer screens all day, every day, I didn't have a problem with it.
iPad as multimedia player
Like pretty much every product Apple makes these days, the iPad is a capable entertainment device. There's an iPod app for music playback; a Videos app for movie, TV show, and video podcast playback; a self-explanatory YouTube app; and of course an iTunes app to purchase and download content right on your iPad.
The iPod app is a hybrid of the iPhone's iPod app and the desktop version of iTunes. It's got the familiar iTunes play controls at the top and a source list on the left, letting you select different playlists or mixes. A set of tab buttons at the bottom let you sort your music library in different ways. You can edit playlists and create new ones with custom names, both firsts for an iPhone OS-based device.
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