iPad-tv-hookup-appleIn a previous post last week, we looked at a few reasons why you should spend that hard-earned cash on an iPhone (or any smart phone in general) instead of a tablet. And while they were good reasons, they didn’t cover the entire argument. There is a very good reason why tablets are selling faster than nausea medication at a 3D movie, and it boils down to one simple fact. Tablets are quality products.

The invention of the iPad was one of those rare moments in which Apple convinced the market that a “third device” (something you carry in addition to your laptop and smart phone) was not only viable, it was vital. I can remember the days before the iPad (2009, talk about ancient).

Back then, tablets were just some weird gizmo that math teachers used with to write problems on a projector for the whole class. However, the new modern wave of tablets is changing the very way we look at computing, and there are a few very good reasons why you should invest in one now.

There’s a Giant Touch Screen

Seems obvious, no? Yet it’s easy to forget just how much of a difference this one simple fact can make. Using any app is a lot easier with the large touch screen real estate. Netflix is particularly awesome on an iPad because of the bigger screen. While the iPad display isn’t exactly the iPhone’s Retina Display, it’s still pretty good and more importantly a whole lot bigger. Watching videos on an iPad is excellent.

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(image credit to okaygeek)

Then there’s games. With more room for touching and swiping, iPads feel a lot more roomy than their smaller siblings. Games like Plants vs. Zombies, Fieldrunners, Peggle, and World of Goo all feel a lot more natural, like they have more breathing room. Playing games on an iPad should feel like playing on an iPhone, but for the life of me I can’t see the similarities when I’m using an iPad. iPad games feel different, and in this case different is good.

Best Way to Eread Available

The iPad enjoys many advantages from its larger screen, but better ereading is one of the most obvious. Scrolling though text on books in Stanza or on the web is ludicrously easy on an iPad. You could make an argument for the Kindle here, but the iPad does enjoy the ability to do a couple things a Kindle can’t.

For one thing, comic books. Reading comics on an iPad is about as easy as reading a physical copy thanks to the large color screen. For another, magazines. Several magazines, most notably Wired, have made versions of themselves specifically for iPad. Can’t get those on a Kindle or iPhone.

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(image credit to kotaku)

Maybe it’s just because there’s less scrolling involved, but reading on a tablet is the definition of simple and intuitive. With the right apps, a properly equipped iPad could become a complete reading device, a gadget that does newspapers, magazines, blogs, RSS, and ebooks. If you travel a lot or read a large amount of online material, then an iPad is perfect.

Believe It Or Not, Tablets Can Be A (Slightly Awkward) Phone

Nowadays with the advent of the modern app store, there really is an app for everything. And believe it or not, that includes functions that were once the sole providence of cell phones. With a little ingenuity and some inventive app use, you could theoretically replace your phone entirely with a tablet.

Think about it. What does a phone do that a tablet doesn’t? Other than the obvious size differences, a tablet lacks the ability to do phone-y things like calling and texting. Those things are provided by your cell phone carrier. But, with a little work and some monetary cost to you, you can do those things on a tablet too.

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Calling can be handled by the obvious choice, Skype. This service is pretty darn awesome, putting its app on every device you can think of, including the iPad. The basic features (Skype to Skype calling) are free, but with a few important disadvantages. You both have to be online, and there’s no voicemail.

However, if you’re willing to shell out a little cash at impressively cheap prices, Skype will let you take calls offline and even record a voicemail. Just leave Skype running in the background and it acts exactly like a real phone.

Here I’ll put in a word of caution. Skype does not encourage you to use them as a replacement for a phone because you can’t call emergency services (the police, firefighters) without a real phone. You may be better off using Skype for everything but still keeping around a prepaid phone with a minimum amount minutes, just in case.

As for texting, that’s a little easier. There are hundreds of free apps that will assign you a phone number specifically for texting. Prepare to deal with some advertisements if you use a free texting app, but hey- it’s still free. And of course, all this calling and texting requires a 3G subscription to be always connected. So, in the end, you’re still paying a wireless carrier, but it’ll still be a lot cheaper.

It’s Not A Laptop, But It’s Almost As Productive

I like to trumpet how laptops are capable of so many more things like serious typing, PhotoShop, editing video, building websites or really any labor-intensive virtual task. However, the hard truth is that while iPads are still not quite equal, they are darn close. All of those advantages I listed above are making their way onto a touch screen in some form or another, if they’re not already there. With some accessories and the right apps, the iPad can be seriously productive.

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(image credit to bitesofapple)

Typing requires a hefty investment, but with a $70 Apple official Bluetooth keyboard you can type on your iPad. I actually used this keyboard to type on my iPod Touch before getting my laptop, and I can attest to its quality. Apple sure charges a premium for it, but the physical keyboard is a godsend for people like me who spend a lot of time writing. The writer apps for iPad aren’t exactly Microsoft Word, but if you just want to get some words down on the road they work perfectly fine.

As for visual projects like PhotoShop and video editing, those are on their way or already here. Adobe has companion apps for iPad that help with PhotoShop on PC. But those aren’t the real thing. That’s why they released a video of a totally redesigned PhotoShop running on an iPad. No news yet if it’ll be released, but here’s hoping.

Then of course, Apple’s got movie editing covered with the release of iMovie for the iPad 2. The app looks like it’s designed with the usual Apple elegance, so editing on the run might actually be possible without a PC. And from the looks of the iPad, it’s not the only thing that’s shedding the PC.

iMovie-for-iPad-apple-video-editor

iPads Are Awesome

Seems even more obvious, no? Still, think about it. If you’ve ever used an iPad, you know what I’m talking about. There’s just something (and I hate this word but I’ll say it anyway) magical about manipulating a giant screen with just your finger.

Controlling a complex device with your hands is subliminally appealing in a way that PCs can’t even hope to match and iPhones just don’t have. Using an iPad is fun. I can almost guarantee that if you do shell out for a shiny new tablet, you will certainly enjoy it.

That’s about it. What do you think? Do you prefer the iPad or iPhone?