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Wired does a first iPad edition: It rocks, but costs too much

Mel Martin

This is what e-magazines should have always been. A sparkling layout, embedded animations, video and audio. Compared to what Wired has done, the other magazines offered, like Time and Popular Science, feel pretty much like tarted up PDF files.

Adobe created the translation for the iPad for Conde Nast, publisher of Wired. Originally, it was going to be Flash based, but when Steve Jobs put the clamps on that, Adobe re-did everything in Apple-approved Objective-C.

Wired for iPad, released today, is a dazzler. There are 3D renderings you control by moving your hand, videos that look crisp, and some interactive features that are very helpful in getting a full understanding of the subject matter. I especially enjoyed the tour of the Mars missions, the tribute to the Industrial Light and Magic special effects factory, and the interactive view of what is inside Worcestershire sauce. Many of the ads are interactive as well, finally giving readers a reason to learn more about a product.

Gallery: Wired Magazine for iPad | 3 Photos

Wired is US$4.99 at the app store, and frankly, as good as it is, I feel the price is too high. I really like what Wired has done, but all these magazines seem to be settling on 5 bucks an issue, when you can subscribe to the paper edition for less. A current Wired promotion lets you subscribe to the dead tree version for ten dollars a year. If you are launching a new product, it just doesn't make sense to bilk download subscribers.

Some other negatives: This is a big download. Half a gig. If you plan on keeping back issues, as Roy Scheider said in the movie Jaws, "we're gonna need a bigger boat."

Sometimes it's hard to tell where to click. There's no rhyme or reason to the way the interface works. Swiping left takes you to the next article. Dragging down takes you to the next page in the article, but there are no indicators on screen. Sometimes tapping an article brings up an icon to take you to the magazine index and home page, sometimes it starts an animation. Sadly, there is no search function, or built-in browser although both features are coming.

I think Wired has done a great job with this magazine. It feels like it was made for the iPad, and it's certainly worth a look. If Wired can get the price lower, and make the interface more intuitive they will have a real winner, and an example for all the other e-magazines to learn from.

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