Early iChristmas

baldurs-gate-enhanced-edition-ipad-release-confirmedSo my father-in-law is visiting for a few days, mostly to get snuggles from the new baby.  He also brought Christmas presents with him, so we had a fun early mini-Christmas with the family.  My son got a stuffed elephant big enough to ride, my daughter got a castle tent, and I got… an iPad mini.  Completely unexpected, I might add.  Not that I’m complaining!

Thus I’ve entered the community of tablet-owners.  After having played around with a standard iPad, the mini is a lot more friendly on the wrists and is definitely more agreeable to me.  It’s strange now to have both that and an iPhone, and so I spent some time trying to suss out just what I was going to use this tablet for.  Well, duh, gaming, right?

There are several titles that are iPad-only that I’ve had my eyes on for a while, and I snapped up Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition right away.  I will most likely be getting the Magic the Gathering app as well.  Having the extra screen space is nice, although playing anything on it requires two hands versus the sometimes-I-can-get-away-with-just-one-hand iPhone.  Reading Kindle on it feels a little more like a standard book, although I’ve long since gotten used to Kindle reading on the iPhone — so now all of those extra words seem superfluous.

I’ll probably be trying out Arcane Legends on it as well, mostly to see how it compares to the smaller screen.  The mini-tablet size seems much better for the complexity of an MMO UI, although it’s not like there are a lot of offerings out there right now.  Maybe I’ll try out that Celtic Heroes everyone keeps talking about.

I do feel a little ridiculously blessed in the computer gadget department now, since I’ve got a smartphone, tablet, laptop, and desktop.  The frugal part of me winces and thinks just how much I don’t need all this, and I know that if I don’t get some use out of this tablet I’ll feel really guilty.  I don’t think that’ll be a problem, especially since I’ll have some time over the holidays to tinker around with it.

I also realize that I’ve pretty much been sucked into the Apple ecosystem, particularly with the investment I’ve made in the app store.  I had given some thought about trying out the Android market and devices a while back, but I don’t really think that’s possible now.  And I guess that’s okay.  It certainly was nice to see that all the purchases I’ve made for my iPhone were easily installable on the tablet.

For those iPad/iPad mini owners out there, what do you do with it more or less exclusively over what you do with smartphones and computers?

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13 thoughts on “Early iChristmas

  1. Lucky you! Pretty please do a review for the BG: E? I’m really curious as to how well it translates to the touchscreen/tablet format, as well as the enhancements to the original game itself.

  2. I’ve found it’s almost completely replaced my laptop. The only time I’ve taken the laptop anywhere since I got the iPad last year has been trip to my girlfriend’s house to play Torchlight 2 over LAN. With a bluetooth keyboard it’s a servicable word processor, it’s great for mucking around on the web.

    Now I just need a retina one…

  3. The only thing I use my tablet exclusively for is. . . um. . . . . .well, nothing, really. But that said, I prefer to use it to browse the internet while watching tv to the laptop, and it’s nice to put on a kids show on Netflix or Amazon Prime on the iPad and let my 3-yr old watch that while my wife and I use the actual tv. My daughter adores the Temple Run game (and is better at it than I am. . . )

  4. My Android tablet is currently giving me approximately an extra 30-45 minutes GW2 gaming per work day. That’s the time I free up by reading and commenting on my blog reader list at work. I could have used the iPod touch for the reading part but typing replies on it was too much like hard work. On the 7″ screen it’s fine. I even played Arcane Heroes at work a couple of times.

    At home I mostly use it for watching YouTube. As I get to grips with what’s available I expect to use it a lot more – that’s what happened with the iPod Touch. The Android/Google Play games market doesn’t seem to be as good on RPG/MMO styles as iTunes, annoyingly, but with luck that will change as Android eats away at the Apple market, which it appears to be doing.

  5. I stream Netflix on my iPad Mini, read books and rss feeds, and play boardgames I’ve bought (ipadboardgames.com and ipadboardgames.org). It’s awesome and when a retina version comes out next year I’ll probably get it (and also a model with more memory) and make a gift of the one I have now.

  6. I use both a phone and tablet. I use my phone for music, games (yeah Humble Android Bundle), any quick web searches, and anything on the go. My tablet stays at home and gets used for kids/learning apps for my daughter, Skyping with family, more involved or longer web browsing, some games too, and things that just require a screen bigger than a phone like reading, streaming movies, etc. The tablet has also kind of become our second computer since my wife uses it in place of our PC most of the time these days.

  7. One of the best website/Apps that I use is called Appshopper. I find a few games I want and add them to my “Want” list. Then whenever they go on sale for cheap (or free!) I snag them up cheaply. Lots of good stuff out there too.

  8. I use the app Notesplus for taking notes in class. Combine that with auto-sync with Dropbox, and we are golden. I can email students entire sections of notes as a review if needed. Very handy

  9. Welcome to the tablet revolution! I love my tablet, though I don’t have the mini. I’m on the “new” iPad at this point, having cracked my first generation when I leaned on it underneath some papers on my desk at work.

    What do I use it for? I rarely watch TV without it nearby to look stuff up on IMDB. Their app is one of the best implementations I’ve seen on the iPad. Feeddler is my blog reader app, which works excellent with Google Reader, where I do most of my blog reading at work (hi boss!) and keeps everything in sync. Great for offline reading too. Though I have FlipBoard, I haven’t fully committed to using it for viewing various sites, though I’m hearing more and more great things about it around the net. I use Downcast for the (few) podcasts I listen to. It’s great for managing the shows you listen to, and setting them to automatically download while connected to your wi-fi network, and then listening on the go. I like the Kindle reader much better on the larger screen than on my iPhone. A number of the social networking apps are great on the iPad as well, and most are better than their web based versions (I’m looking at you Linked In!). Skype is awesome on the device, as the larger screen allows you a much better view of who you are talking to than skyping on your iPhone. There are also a couple reference “books” I’ve forked over the cash for due to their interactive nature and the amazing amount of information they have – “The Elements” and “”Solar System” are both pretty cool as reference items. And “Star Walk” is amazing for GPS star watching. The list really goes on and on….

    For gaming, I’ve got a ridiculous library of games. Big Fish games are pretty fun, and they almost all have a “lite” version so you can try before you buy – they generally fall into photo hunt/tile swapping categories, and are good time wasters. Smurf Village is an amazing amount of nostalgia fun and (along with Smurf Life which just came out) a great alternative to most of the murder simulator type games that are out there. Both focus on growing and building the village, as opposed to hunting down the next foozle and all of his next of kin. There’s also Dragon Vale, because who DOESN’T want a dragon zoo?!?! Between DV and Smurf Village that’s where most of my ipad gaming time goes. Best of all – F2P!

    And then of course there are the various iterations of ground based, upset avians that just look better on the bigger screen (including Star Wars, which is hilarious). Basically all the games you love on your phone are a bit bigger, a bit better (YMMV) on the larger device. Recently I picked up a new batch of apps on sale, including Baldur’s Gate (haven’t started it yet) and Pitfall, which is a blast!

    Sales are the way to go in the store, as eventually you can find most stuff for dirt cheap. I always keep an eye out for suggestions from everyone (Blogs, magazines, etc.) and have a running list of apps to check out that I have handy whenever I get the itch for something new.

    Finally, I think my favorite part of the tablet world is using GameCenter to connect with other players. Both Smurfs and DV have social interactivity that is managed through game center – visiting and gifting features – so you can check out your friends’ games and see how they are decorating their places. Plus there’s all the meta gaming such as leader boards, conversations, or spying on what your friends are playing to get an idea for something new to check out yourself. Feel free to add me, “Mattexl”, as I’m always up for finding more friends to play games with on my iPad!

  10. I’ve been a tablet owner since I got an iPad 2 which I use every day. Its replaced my laptop when travelling (mostly). Is a general ‘ pick up and google’ when I have a question. I take notes and write essays on it (a bluetooth keyboard is helpful here) for study. Gaming of course – I’ve just picked up Baldurs Gate. Great Little Wargame, Dark Meadow, The Room and Elder Sign are regulars. Plus all the usual Angry birds etc.

    I think the biggest use is as a large screen for looking closely at photo’s I take while out and about. Also its great to have another tool to access Evernote, and most of my other productivity tools work across all my devices.

    The biggest issue I have – being a PC gamer – is I don’t find games like Gangstar Rio / Rainbow Six and other FPS’s etc translate well to a touch screen. I think I’m just too used to having a keyboard and mouse.

    For reading, I still prefer my Kindle though. The iPad is to big and heavy after a while, although its great for magazines.

  11. I tend to use it to catch up on news a lot. BBC news and CNN news apps are both very good and completely free.

    I also find the iPad is the best device to be surfing the interwebs on. Bigger screen than a smartphone and more convenient than a laptop.

    Catchup TV is also very useful in my house. The wife uses it more than me. It is especially good with an apple TV.
    Apps like bbc iplayer, TED, netflix etc.
    What I like about the ipad / apple tv combo is my wife can use the ipad to stream something to the tv, while I can use a seperate browser on the ipad to surf. Both work at the same time.

    Oh and get TED. It has some very interesting lectures. You kind of run out eventually, but it should keep you busy for a couple of months.

  12. When I first got an iPad, I tried out the mobile gaming scene but I found that honestly, I’d rather just play on a proper computer; there were very few games that a) were compelling and b) more fun on a tablet than a computer. The exception is a selection of solitaire and PopCap-style games to entertain me in waiting rooms and so on. (My favourite is a slightly Sudoku-ish game called Jabeh.)

    Mostly, I use my iPad for reading, both web browsing and ebooks. My boyfriend gave me an iPad mini for my birthday a month ago and I’ve found I almost inevitably turn to it rather than my full-size iPad 3; the screen size is perfect for ebooks in particular. The fullsize iPad now mostly gets used for a different kind of gaming – I’m a pen-and-paper RPGer as well, so the iPad’s retina screen is great for character sheets and gaming manual PDFs. (And, of course, the obligatory dice-rolling apps. ;))

    I occasionally use the iPad for watching media, too — Australia doesn’t have good streaming media sources like Netflix or the BBC iPlayer, so if I *do* use it, it’s generally using Air Video to stream a previously-downloaded video file from my media centre computer to the iPad.

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