Apple iPad review: First look

Is the Apple iPad really any good or just a lot of hot air? We review it to find out.

Apple iPad

Indoors or on a bus, plane or train, the iPad is hands down the best eBook reader we've had the pleasure of testing. The display is amazing, as we've already mentioned, but the iBooks UI and the graphics details make reading books on the iPad a fantastic experience. It's almost as if you're staring at a real book through a thin piece of glass, only it's much more vivid and detailed.

Add in multi-touch support and all of the interactive features Apple has provided, such as instant access to dictionary look-ups by simply long-tapping on a word, and you've got the most enjoyable electronic book reading experience money can buy.

Outdoors - say, by the pool or at the beach on holiday or less excitingly en route to a meeting, for example - the iPad is better utilised as a tray for drinks and such like.

While a device like the Amazon Kindle is incredibly visible in nearly any lighting conditions, the iPad display is less than ideal in direct sunlight.

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Black words on the white background are fairly visible but just like the iPhone and iPod Touch displays, the white areas of the screen tingle with colour as it reflects small amounts of light in every direction.

Considering most of the display is white when an ebook is displayed, it becomes very straining on the eyes after just a short period of time.

Of course, this carries over to all aspects of the iPad. In fact, iBooks is one of the more usable apps on the iPad when it comes to sunlight. At best, using the iPad in the sun is a painful endeavour that requires the user to continuously reposition the device in order to compensate for changes in lighting. At worst, such as while trying to watch a video, the sun makes it almost impossible to see what's going on.

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