Entertainment, Thy Name is iPad

Looking for the perfect portable entertainment device? Check out the Apple iPad first.

Nothing illustrates the confluence of electronics technology better than the new Apple iPad. As far as most people are concerned, it’s just a new toy–but the early adopters are legion, because it offers so many things that people want, all in one slim package.

All In One

Now, the iPad doesn’t have quite everything; you’ll still need a separate phone. It does use a spiffy iPhone-like interface, though, which is why it’s sometimes described as a cross between a tablet computer and a smartphone.

And it’s a tablet computer, all right, but not the kind you’re used to. The keyboard is a virtual set-up that some people find a bit off-putting, for example. But with a little experimentation, you’ll be typing like Mavis Beech in no time.

The rest of the interface is pie-simple. There’s a home button at the bottom of the unit; everything else is virtual. You can move from one group of icons to another by swiping your finger on the surface. One touch opens most applications, and you can change the screen orientation just by turning the iPad on its side.

As you’d expect from an Apple product, the graphics capacity is excellent; digital photos have never looked better. Also, you can use Wi-Fi to easily access the Internet, and the gaming capacity is OMG-worthy.

The iBook e-reader software is particularly striking. To turn the page, you drag your finger across it… and it turns like a real page. The interface is easy on the eyes, and it’s backlit, unlike most book readers.

I found myself regretting buying that snazzy e-reader for $250 six months ago. If only I’d waited… Curse you, Steve Jobs! Curse you!

And did I mention that it’s got the same iTunes capacity as the iPod? Don’t have to carry one of those around anymore, either. Plus, you can play movies and (soon) TV shows on a screen much larger than any you’ll find on a smartphone or mp3 player.

Basically, Apple has packaged an iPod, a tablet computer, an e-reader, a gaming device, a video viewer, digital photo frame and more in a sleek package that appeals to just about everyone. Leave it to Apple to invent something that’ll make them a pile of cash in the middle of a recession (they sold 3 million in the first 80 days!)

Bottom line: the iPad is well worth buying, even at minimum price of $500. It’s more for fun than productive work, but there’s nothing wrong with that. So while the Apple iPad isn’t the laptop killer some people hoped it would be, buying one is a lot cheaper than buying all those other portable electronics separately.