When you absolutely, positively need to be able to view Flash websites, the new Puffin Web Browser for iPad (US$0.99, universal app) is an inexpensive way to do so.
The app, much like Skyfire ($4.99) before it, runs the sites through a server for rendering and compression before delivering the results to your iPad. The result? You can watch Flash animations and movies that are not viewable with Safari.
I asked my TUAW cohorts to recommend a few Flash-heavy websites to check out Puffin, and each passed my tests with flying colors. First, Victor Agreda had me check the Fluidmaster website. This site is for a toilet repair kit company, and just going to the site in Safari was a total fail (see below).
Opening the same site in Puffin, I was immediately able to view all parts of the site, including the ultra-cheesy Flash-animated "Bob the Plumbing Expert" (below). Rendering was fast over Wi-Fi, so moving from page to page was quick and pain-free. As you can also see in the image below, Puffin provides tabbed browsing on the iPad.
One of our resident sci-fi experts, Dave Caolo, recommended trying to watch the Flash video episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars available on Starwars.com. When I loaded the site in Safari and went to one of the episodes, all I got was R2-D2 telling me I needed to load the latest Adobe Flash Player (below).
Popping over to Puffin, I was immediately able to watch an episode. In comparison to watching it on my iMac in Safari with the Flash Player, the video was a bit choppy, and the audio occasionally got out of sync.
One issue I did have with the app is that at the present time, cut and paste isn't supported. This was irritating when I was trying to paste in a password and couldn't. The Puffin folks say that it will be supported in a future version of the browser. The "drag" mode, which brings up a hand icon to facilitate dragging frames or scroll bars on websites, was also non functional for me.
Still, the app is much less expensive than Skyfire; $0.99 gets you Puffin on both iPhone and iPad, while you'd need to spend $7.98 to get Skyfire on both devices. For those who really need to view Flash sites on mobile devices, Puffin is a capable browser at a bargain price.