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Just got my iPad. Now what?

Mel Martin

It's pretty clear that new iPad owners are hitting the app store in droves. Books, games and movies are all flying off the virtual shelves. Since you may be suffering from sensory overload, or just looking for some ideas, here are some things I've seen that might be worth a look.

I tried Time Magazine (U.S. $4.99) and Popular Science ($4.99) magazines on the iPad. The both look striking on the luscious iPad screen, but neither one really excited me enough to get me to subscribe. Time had nice use of video. Pop Sci looked stunning, but didn't have a lot of text. I think both magazines will need to come down below 5 bucks an issue to attract readers.

For news, I liked Reuters News Pro, the new NPR app and the New York Times Editors' Choice app. All are free, and make clever use of the screen and finger gestures. USA Today looks nice, but tends to crash and has some confusing navigation. Sometimes I clicked on one story and got another. I'll be patient with them, because they have some sharp coders and I know the app will quickly get better. Be aware that the USA Today app is free for now, but will cost money at some time in the future. The AP News app (free) is a bit of a mess. It has some clever ideas, but the stories are reduced to little thin strips and a lot of screen space is wasted. I don't want my news apps cute. I just want the news.

The Netflix app (free, but requires a Netflix subscription) is a major win. I tried a 2 week free trial, and the streaming movies look really good. The selection isn't always in line with my taste, but I'll probably sign up when the trial ends. Kudos to Apple for letting them in. They are certainly a movie competitor.

Weather Radar HD ($2.99) looks great on the large iPad screen. I love getting the radar views overlaid on the satellite maps. A handy app in severe weather.

I love Astronomy apps, and 2 of my favorites have been up-scaled for the iPad. Distant Suns ($6.99) has a nice 'what's up' feature, and tours of the night sky for your location. Unlike the iPhone version, it is pretty easy to take it outside and share your screen with others. It's great for kids, and the built-in iPad hardware lets you hold the unit up and it will match where you are looking with the map.

StarWalk ($4.99) has stunning graphics and nice pictures of planets and deep sky objects. It can also match the real sky above you making identifying things easy.

Both these apps are superior to their incarnations on the iPhone, mostly because of the bigger screen.

It was pretty obvious that I needed a case for my iPad. I looked at the Apple case, but it seemed a bit thin for travel. I chose the inCase Neoprene Slip Sleeve Plus ($39.95). Nice for travel. In also comes with an iPad stand. The case is nice. The stand is pretty flimsy and it seems mainly to fall over. Oh well.

I'd like to see some solid printing apps, since it isn't an included feature of the iPad (grumble) and I'd kill for a nice VNC client that uses the full rez of the iPad screen.

There are thousands of new apps and lots of exciting content to try. I'd love to hear about your discoveries, both good and bad. Happy hunting, and happy iPadding.

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