iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

We're going in and reviewing as many iPad apps as possible—LIVE—right now, and updating throughout the day. We'll start with the essential apps. If you have a specific app you want reviewed, let us know in the comments.

This is only the first part of our app review marathon, for part 2 go here and for part 3 go here.

Note: For all apps, we'll show the portrait screenshot on the left and the landscape on the right, so you can see what both look like.

App Developers: If you want us to take a look at your app (no guarantee that we'll review), send over some download codes.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

ABC Player

Video looks crisp and loads quickly over Wi-Fi. You can skip around inside an episode—like you can on the website—but you're still stuck watching all the ads. No way to skip those, but if you're used to watching these 30 second spots from Hulu and ABC.com, then this should be no problem. Portrait mode works fine, with the bottom half of the screen taken by navigation, but when you're actually watching then you should go landscape. There's a zoom-in option too to fill the screen. Free. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Pretty damn good port of the ABC website.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Marvel Comics

Good, but not fantastic. Portrait mode is good for reading the entire page, and you can double-tap to zoom in to a specific panel, which is great for landscape. Then swipe forward (or backwards) and it'll advance or go back panels. The major omission I see is the lack of double-page mode in landscape, so you can see two-page layouts (when something crazy or dramatic happens) the way they were meant to be seen in comic books. Otherwise, the screen is great for reading comics and the interface works fine. Comics are $2 each, app is free. What they should really do is have a subscription service—something like $20 a month and you can read as many comics as you can without vomiting. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Good initial effort, but definitely functionality holes Marvel can patch in the coming weeks.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Geometry Wars Touch

Geometry Wars! It's hard to complain when one of the best dual-stick shooters comes to another platform...but we've got some. The game looks fantastic, even though it's graphically less impressive—fewer particle effects and shapes are more pixelated—than the XBLA version. The controls are damn good for a touchscreen, but if you're comparing to two physical sticks, you lose out on the twitch action that advanced players need. But, being able to put your thumb down anywhere on the left and right side to activate move and shoot sticks dynamically is a really good new paradigm. One huge loss is that the bomb button is in the middle of the screen, meaning that you can't quickly hit it when you're in trouble, making it mostly useless in extreme situations. Also, you can't resume games if you exit the app and come back. But otherwise, pretty fantastic. $9.99. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

A little pricey, but it's Geometry Wars on the iPad, which means gamers need to get in on this.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Netflix

Netflix on the iPad is freaking fantastic. Essentially the Netflix webpage ported into an app, you can scroll and arrow button tap (flicking doesn't work so great) through new releases, or you can view a list of your existing queue. One button press brings you to a full-screen stream of your video, which you can scrub through in a similar fashion to iTunes videos (just be prepared for a few moments of buffering). The only improvements I'd like to see are a Roku or Xbox-like Cover Flow option to flick through your queue, as well a generally smoother experience scrolling through the main movie browsing interface. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Stellar implementation, just a few minor hiccup-type bugs to be ironed out.

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Pandora

Basically, the only thing the iPad version has over the iPhone one is the artist information. Otherwise, Pandora didn't really take advantage of the extra space to do anything cool, like display large, beautiful artwork for album covers, or stream lyrics or anything innovative. It's still Pandora so it's still useful, but for those people who were expecting to stream Pandora while doing other stuff, there's still no multitasking. Also, you can't get to your bookmarks. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Still good, but kinda disappointing that Pandora didn't do anything really new on the iPad.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

NYT Editor's Choice

If you liked the NYT app on the iPhone, know that NYT Editor's Choice evolves the experience of a newspaper on a mobile screen in a tasteful, natural manner. Toggle between newspaper-style front pages five categories: News, Business, Technology, Opinion and Features. View it all in portrait or landscape mode while flicking smoothly from one page to another—it looks great either way. But the perfect, subtle detail on such a large screen? Click on a story and you'll cross-dissolve to the full article. You can even email articles—the only thing it's missing is the option to search. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

If you like the NYT, it's a free must-have without that obtrusive of advertising.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

TweetDeck

Like we said when we first saw the screenshots, TweetDeck makes good use of that wider screen to put more information in front of your face—the entire point of TweetDeck in the first place. It's fast and you can rearrange columns easily by double tapping, then dragging. So far it's a pretty damn solid Twitter implementation, on par with the desktop version of TweetDeck. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Daddy like.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Epicurious

Functionally speaking, Epicurious on the iPad is not much different than on the iPhone (you browse by the same categories along with shopping list support). But that's the point—you have a unifiedlibrary across iPlatform. And on the iPad, layout makes all the difference. Viewing lists simply makes more sense than browsing through recipes Cover Flow style. And the sheer speed and fluidity (over Wi-Fi, granted) of navigation, adding recipes to your collection and then saving those recipes as itemized shopping lists—you'll be impressed. What can I say other than that this doesn't feel like a V1 iPad app. This is polished, functional and wonderful if you're the cooking type. Heck, it's free, so that alone makes it worth a shot. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

I've used Epicurious on the web and iPhone extensively already, but the iPad implementation is already my favorite.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Smule's Magic Piano

These are the guys who brought you Leaf Trombone, Ocarina and T-Pain's sing-along fun times, so they know music apps. Magic Piano is a little weird as a standard Piano app, because the keys are invisible by default and you have to learn the positions to make music. You can also set how many keys you want on your piano, or even have it in a circle pattern. The neat part is the pre-set songbook, where you can play along DDR-style to some pre-set music. You can make it super easy, so that as long as you manage to hit the screen with your finger instead of the desk or your own eyeball, it'll correspond to a correct note. Or go harder, so your tap placement actually matters. $3. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Fun music app by guys who know fun music apps.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

AIM

It's AIM for iPad and it's free. The actually AIMing part works great in both landscape and portrait, even if you should probably use it in landscape mode to have both active IMs and your buddy list visible at all times. Typing is what it is—not fantastic, but good enough—and most everything is pretty responsive.

The Lifestream is a little weird, pulling in Facebook, Twitter, delicious, YouTube, MySpace and Digg streams from what seems to be your AIM contacts. By adding Twitter to this I expected the Twitter stream to function like an actual Twitter app, but it seems to only grab updates from whoever you have on AIM. Not that good, and I'd rather just use a standalone Twitter app. Free. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Good for AIMing, not so good for everything else.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Adobe Ideas

A free sketch app from Adobe, which looks powerful enough for someone who actually knows how to draw to produce some good content. This is what I pulled out in 3 minutes. It's pretty simple, but has opacity, color and brush size and compatibility with Illustrator and Photoshop on the desktop. It's free and decent so you can't complain. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Someone who knows how to draw will love it, but those of us who don't will enjoy scribbling.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

LogMeIn Ignition

LogMeIn is one of the easiest VNC remote access methods now, with it taking care of all the firewall and NAT penetration for you, breaking the install process down to just installing the software onto your PC/Mac. LogMeIn Ignition is basically the same as it is on the iPhone, letting you remote access your computer from anywhere (but it's much faster if you're on the same network). The iPad version is pretty great, even if the controls are a little complicated. Scrolling around and clicking are the most awkward, because your finger actually only moves the mouse (or the screen), instead of directly tapping where you want to click. Basically, you need to move the mouse to your click location and then click. The convenience outweighs any of the quirks, even if it's $30. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

If you're the type of person who wants to carry your iPad everywhere to control your computers, this is a must.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Apple iBooks

Apple iBooks review here.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Digits Calculator

It's a calculator app. It's also $0.99. It works nice, and it looks good, but there should be free ones soon. You should wait. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Wait for a free calculator app.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Accuweather

It definitely looks nice, with the portrait view showing current weather (plus other meteorological data), and a two-week forecast, and the landscape mode showing just the forecast. There are also other slick views, like a circular hourly mode, video weather forecasts and the weather map. What's goofy are the settings: there are a couple bugs here, like not being able to properly add a city in the landscape mode, which should be worked out quickly. Otherwise, it's a good free app, with the only downside being that the stupid ad pops up from the bottom occasionally. If you want, you can pay a dollar to get rid of the ads. [FreePaid]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Very pretty, and worth paying the $1 to get rid of ads.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Twitterific

Definitely prettier than TweetDeck, which we reviewed earlier. Twitterific is an entirely different paradigm for Twitter though, and the large fonts, big individual tweets and spacious design should be more than enough for regular users that don't have a dozen searches going on at once. There's only the free version now, so get used to ads. Update: There's an in-app purchase upgrade to go to the non-ad version. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Good and pretty, but ads.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Scrabble

This comic really sums it up correctly. We're a bunch of jackasses that spent $1700 to play a $10 board game. And you know what? It's fucking worth it. Each (free) Tile Rack app for iPhone/iPod Touch has a dictionary and the ability to rotate the board to face you. You know what you're getting with Scrabble, and this is a pretty polished version of the game. You'll see what we mean in the video above. The iPad app is $10, but the support apps for iPhone/iTouch are free. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Nerd fun, especially if everyone has a Tile Rack.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Tap Tap Radiation

It's essentially the same as Tap Tap Revenge on the iPhone, but bigger and the targets move around. You know if you want this thing already, but we're kind of over the whole Tap Tap type of gameplay. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Good if you like this kind of gameplay. We're mild on it overall.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Fieldrunners

This is the same Fieldrunners you know and love from the iPhone, it's just had its resolution jacked up for the iPad. And it looks beautiful. Gameplay is smooth, the sound effects are great, and having that extra screen real estate keeps you from accidentally tapping the wrong turret when you're upgrading them. Tower defense games don't get much better than this, really. $8 [iPad]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Same great game as is available on the iPhone, but with better graphics.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Labyrinth

It's like Labyrinth on the iPhone (you can even play iPhone levels), but in 3D and on a bigger screen. The 3D is pretty awesome, and you can even play user-created levels. There's a free version and an $8 version. Try the free one first to see if you like it. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Why not.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

MLB At Bat

The super-popular official baseball app has been upsized for the iPad, and it delivers everything you're used to from the iPhone version. You get live game stat streaming with a strike zone graphic that's automatically updates. You can also stream live TV broadcasts of games, provided you aren't in a blackout zone. And even if you aren't live streaming, you can watch highlight clips from the games you're following soon after big plays happen. For hardcore baseball fans, this one is gonna be tough to pass up, even for $15.

iPad App Review Marathon Live

The next best thing to watching baseball on TV, and a great stat-filled companion for when you are.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

IMDB

A very clean and snappy interface. Looking up movies and actors is extremely intuitive and elegant since you can easily scan through top titles on the splash page or dive into the search bar up top. Taping the Browse button accesses TV schedules, Top 250 Lists, Moviemeter, and local showtimes-keeping you from having to exit out and search elsewhere. Photo galleries are fine tuned to play well with the iPad and produce crisp, clear images that can be browsed as easily as your local photo collection. But it's not without a few glitches. When switching from portrait to landscape mode the lower IMDB and Browse buttons seem confused where to position themselves and end up flickering back and forth between the left and and center of the screen. Movie trailers fail to launch and if you quit the app it does not resume where you left off, making for a tedious few moments while you renavigate. We'll have to see how soon this gets patched, but it's off to a fantastic start. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Great interface and intuitive navigation, although trailers fail to launch.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

iPDF

iPDF is a free PDF reader. In theory, it should be great! In practice, it's entirely useless. That's because the only way to load PDFs into it is by using its built-in PDF search engine. If you have, you know, specific PDF files you want to read, there's no way to open them up. What's the point? [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Doesn't let you load up your own PDFs, just PDFs found via its built-in web search

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

eBay

The eBay app does about what you'd expect, allowing you to search through and bid on auctions. The search results are laid out with large images, making it easy to scroll through auctions visually. Unfortunately, many forms of instant payment aren't supported by the app yet, so a good number of auctions tell you to go to ebay.com if you want to bid, which kind of defeats the purpose of the app. But for casual browsing and those auctions that you can bid on in-app, it's pretty slick.

iPad App Review Marathon Live

For the auctions you can bid on, it's great. They just need to add all the payment options to the app. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

The Dossier

This app is kinda super awesome. It has one entry per person in your Contacts list, which you can then fill out with notes and photos, plus tie in their Twitter stream. You basically pretend to be the world's nerdiest private investigator, making little observations (and clothing size reports) on your friends. It'll be very awkward when someone finds all your notes on people, but until then, this is unique for sure. $5. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Unique, but definitely weird

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

IM+

M+ is an instant messenging app that allows you to connect not only to popular messenging services like AIM and Gtalk, but also to Twitter and MySpace as well. It also has a built-in browser so you can surf the web while you chat. It's nice in theory, but in practice it feels really janky and hard to use. It crashed on me a couple of times and half the time I pulled the keyboard up the area to type into didn't show up with it. If you want to be connected to lots of services at once and be able to surf the web while you chat, this should be a decent option once they iron the bugs out. But as of right now, it's not worth the money. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Better in theory than in practice, not worth the $10

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Wikipanion for iPad

Straight up Wikipedia. The iPad version of the world's most popular iPhone Wiki is as speedy as ever and should keep time wasters or pub trivia cheats extremely satisfied. Bookmarking pages is a snap and quitting out of the app is without qualms since you can resume right where you left off. Browse the main page for something that suits your interest or stumble around with the infamous random page button to read about the most obscure stuff ever. The article text itself can be tweaked to suit your style—big or small, serif or sans, there's no wrong way to read your favorite entries. The more 3G centric geolocation feature lets you be your own tour guide and read up on relevant articles from around your immediate area. Switching from portrait to landscape is not as snappy as I would have liked, but that's really a minor gripe. Spend 5 bucks on the Plus version and you get offline viewing capabilities. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Classic Wikipedia. Five bucks for the Plus version nets you offline viewing.

Air Sharing HD

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Air Sharing is one of our favorite iPhone apps, and it only gets better on the iPad's roomier screen. It lets you wirelessly mount your iPad as a drive on your computer so you can load it up with files. You can then view, share or print everything from PDFs to Excel documents. For anyone complaining about the lack of a file system on the iPad, this gives you one. And on our first testing of it, it's speedy and stable. Highly recommended. [iTunes
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iPad App Review Marathon Live

Lets you load up your iPad with any documents you want, adds printing support.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Command and Conquer

Review here

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Flight Control

Flight Control is one of the most popular iPhone games, and with good reason. It's simple enough to figure out how to play almost immediately, but it's challenging enough to keep you coming back for more. And the new iPad version uses the bigger screen to improve upon the original in almost every way. You have the same gameplay as the iPhone version, but with bigger, more complicated levels with more runways and types of aircraft. You can play with friends either sharing one screen or over WiFi. And the higher resolution allows for a nice boost in the quality of the graphics. Awesome. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

It's like Flight Control for the iPhone, but better in every way

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Bento

If you're into organization and you like your organization beautiful, then Bento's $5 iPad app is a solid listmaking solution. It has 25 templates for managing just about any type of information you throw at it, be it contacts, to-do lists, collections, etc. As with all of these types of things, you'll probably get the most mileage if you use it with its corresponding Mac app, Bento 3, but even on its own, Bento's a good fit for the iPad. The aesthetic of the lists, which take the form of clipboards and journals, matches the iPad well, and Bento makes it easy to select individual items in greater collections either by selecting them from a list or browsing them with a swipe. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

If listmaking's your thing, Bento does it beautifully, though you might sacrifice some of the more complex database functionality for the good looks.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

iDisplay

Use your iPad as a second monitor! Review here

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Comic Reader Mobi

Yes! The Comic Reader Mobi app lets you put your own comics (zip, cbr, rar, cvz, pdf support) and read them on the iPad. You can either use the app's built-in FTP server support and FTP over files, or you can use iTunes' new file transfer, which is a lot easier. In either case, once the files are on, you can swipe (or tap) to go between pages, and it'll even auto-detect which orientation to place the image in depending on the image size. This solves the problem of needing to go to landscape view that we complained about in the Marvel app reader. The only downside is that this is $15, but if you get your comics from somewhere other than Marvel's app, then you'll want this. You know what I'm talking about. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Really good comic reader, but pricey.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Delivery Status Touch

If you needed proof that the iPad could make anything beautiful, look no further than Delivery Status Touch, a bigger, shinier version of the iPhone app that is dedicated solely to tracking your packages. The premise is pretty straight forward: if you're a person who's buying or selling a lot of stuff online, Delivery Status will keep track of all those tracking numbers, from the big guys like UPS and FedEx, Apple and Amazon, all the way down to the nobodies like Sagawa Express and Aramex. It shows each tracked item in a side pane with color coded tabs and provides large, multitouch maps of their whereabouts on the right. If you create a free account with the developer, Junecloud, it'll sync your tracking numbers between a desktop widget, iPhone and iPad, which is pretty nice. All of this, though, seems like overkill unless you routinely have at least 4 or 5 incoming shipments at a time. And for $5, it's almost certainly an unnecessary extravagance. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Delivery Status achieves the seemingly impossible task of making package-tracking gorgeous, but at $5 it's only for serious powershippers.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

SketchBook Pro

Eight bucks and a stylus turns your iPad into a Wacom tablet. Obviously I can't draw as well as a first grader or come anywhere close to the advertised samples on the iTunes page, but SketchBook Pro is an amazing app that hints at the iPad's content creation potential. It flings you into its interface after a crash course on how to adjust, resize and manipulate your brushes, then you're let loose on a blank canvas to do your worst (or best). Using your fingers is a tad cumbersome since any unwanted input from your palm is interpreted literally and can add some stray strokes to that magnum opus, but thankfully there's an undo button. A stylus helped keep the line fidelity steady so consider purchasing one if you're serious about drawing. Recommended for artists and doodlers everywhere. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Fantastic sketch app despite the learning curve. Consider purchasing a stylus.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Stumbleupon

Stumbleupon is a community that acts as a springboard to most of what's good, or popular, on the internet. Input your interests, get recommendations, and then give your recommendations thumbs up or thumbs down. Simple. The trouble is this app kinda blows. It's slow to load pages and only offers a maximum of 16 choices per category to view at a time. If you go to the actual website via Safari you'll find you get better functionality and speedier page loads. The recommendations are not always consistent as well. It's kind of like a 4chan image board free-for-all in terms of what you may or may not see on a given splash page—making it a pain to try and find something again if you didn't add it to your favorites. Also, I couldn't log in to save my life, probably just a launch hiccup, but a huge downside nonetheless. Free. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Only for die hard Stumbleupon fans.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Popular Science +

One of the biggest promises of the iPad is to save the magazine industry. PopSci's app offers a digital version of their famous magazine. Rather than flicking from left to right through pages, you flick through whole articles in this manner. To actually read content, you scroll down the page (with more flicking). This left right up down pattern is odd at first, but you'll adjust after about a minute—thanks largely to the pretty pictures and overall speediness of the interface. My main qualm is simply that in the April 2010 issue (the only one available at this time), text is always presented in the same skinny column layout (in landscape and portrait). We want to keep the magazine style around for its artistic layouts, and tablets are a place to take those layouts to new heights. $5 with one free issue included. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Not the absolute endgame for magazines on tablets, but it's a usable start.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

ESPN ScoreCenter XL

If the iPad is going to be your new newspaper, then it has to replace box scores, too. ESPN ScoreCenter XL does that and more, letting you put together a custom package of the sports and teams you care about, enhanced with video, play by play rundowns, and live stats. The app is a gateway to a wealth of information, but the layout isn't super intuitive, so it still seems like a wealth of information—too much, at some points. The basic things—stats, scores, standings—are all laid out plain and simple, but there doesn't seem like there's a unifying element that brings it together as a manageable package. And at $5, it might be best to wait and see how the sports app scene shakes out. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

ESPN is a worldwide sports powerhouse, so you know they're not going to skimp on content, but they need to do some streamlining to make it all work.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

NPR

Every Giz writer is loving the NPR app, and it's obvious why: You can't question the app's sheer robustness. You can scroll through tons of content on the mainpage, look up any NPR station to livestream and even play some of the most premium content like This American Life on demand. Plus, the iPad's speaker makes for the perfect, cheap radio effect—allowing you to ditch AM receivers once and for all. But if the app fails in one place, it's that there's simply too much content presented in too many different ways. Flip through icons, use forward and back functions, scroll through lists, search by radio station to find more lists—everything is jumbled. We'd just love one simple view option for every major show. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

It's the most robust NPR app yet—we'd just like someone to chop down the interface.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

ContactPad

Facebook isn't showing signs of letting up anytime soon, and even if you're currently in your personal Facebook Backlash stage, as I am, the idea of dumping all your Facebook friends into the Contacts app on your new iPad isn't a bad one. Sadly, ContactPad is not the app to do it. The $3 app offers a list of all your Facebook friends, in no discernible order, which you're forced to peck through one at a time to dump into contacts. I don't know if it's a function of my friends' privacy settings or what, but for most of the friends I checked out, the only syncable options were Image and Facebook URL, so the contact the app created was basically a thumbnail shot of my friend with a link to their Facebook page. And that's not saving anyone any time, now is it. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

The idea of pumping up your Contacts with Facebook friends isn't exceptionally exciting to begin with, but ContactPad makes it downright annoying.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Plants Vs Zombies HD

It's been widely acclaimed on almost every portable platform known to man, but I admit, I avoided Plants Vs Zombies, much because I knew it was coming to the iPad at a higher resolution. The game is beautiful, and tower defense titles (of which I'm a huge, huge fan) obviously work wonderfully on a large touchscreen. I was quickly suckered into way too much "test" time with Plants Vs Zombies, despite it being far simpler than the hardcore tower defense games I usually play (you don't route enemies through a maze like other games, and towers don't have quite the same rock, paper, scissors effects). It's just charming, addictive eyecandy. My only real complaint is that this, along with many other "HD" games don't include a free version for my iPhone. $10. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Great, yet another tower defense game that I'm going to spend hours playing.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Dragon Dictation

Dragon is probably the biggest name in voice recognition, and it's for good reason. Their NautrallySpeaking engine actually lets you, you know, speak naturally, and records your voice with surprising fidelity. I rattled off "Sally sells sea shells by the sea shore," which it parsed perfectly (maybe because that's a common test sentence?) but it kept up pretty well, though not perfectly, when I started rattling off paragraphs of my own design. Best of all, it's free, like the iPhone version, so you can try it out and see if you like talking to type without investing a dime. Worth checking out if you're someone who thinks important thoughts that deserve preserving.

iPad App Review Marathon Live

As far as voice recognition note taking goes, it does the job, and, hey, it's free.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

National Geographic World Atlas HD

I don't know what I expected this app to be, but even at $2, World Atlas HD let me down. It's essentially a world map (coupled with limited demographic data) that you can look at in a few different styles. If you've used Google Maps/Earth for more than 5 minutes, this will feel antiquated and pointless—especially as locally saved maps fail to download, the app crashes and, when you zoom in too far (which you will), you're rereouted to Bing's maps that don't match the old school map experience. $2 of app spam. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Just use the Maps app and have fun with Street View.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

SplitBrowser

SplitBrowser, as its name would suggest, offers a browser that's split into two independent, resizable panes, each with their own address bar, navigation buttons, and pinching and tapping functionality. The idea here is that you could watch a YouTube video, in that disengaged, glancing way that we're all used to watching YouTube videos, while surfing around in the other pane. That's not the only use for two panes—any streaming service, like, say, Pandora, would work in this setup—but it's the arrangement that makes the most sense to me. Anyway, in practice, it's OK but not great. The bar splitting the browser windows is a little too thick and unsightly, and watching a video in one pane makes the flicking and scrolling in the other one a little choppy, which, especially on a device as elegant as the iPad, is a big ding. The iPad's screen seems big compared to an iPhone and opens up a lot of new possibilities for new apps, but I'm not sure it's quite big enough to justify two paned browsing. Still, it's only $2, and if you're someone whose surfing includes a lot of reading up on one thing while glancing at a video of another, it works as advertised. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

SplitBrowser gives you a split browser, like it says it will, but it's not quite a convincing use of the iPad's limited screen real estate.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Voice Memos

Voice memos. On your iPad. Pretty much a no brainer and I'm sure you've probably downloaded this already. If you've used any voice recorder ever you know the drill: Record, Stop, Playback, Delete—oh, look, a new VU meter! That's the jist. The trouble is this first version has a HUGE flaw. You can only toggle the playhead in landscape mode and when you try to—let's say fast forward to the 35 minute mark in a 40 minute lecture, the playhead glitches the fuck out and completely fails. Meaning you'd have to physically sit there and listen until the part you wanted cued up. This is sure to be fixed, but renders this app essentially useless in the mean time for practical purposes. Sound wise it does the job. Audio is crisp and captures voices relatively well. Plug in your iPhone headphones and use the built in mic for more candid functionality. Background noise can be an issue in a crowded setting, so keep that mind if you have to interview the elderly at a dirt bike rally.

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Essential app crippled by playhead glitch. Wait for the update.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

EXO-Planet

EXO-Planet is a local Bluetooth or internet Wi-Fi based third-person shooter that's actually pretty decent. It has only capture the flag mode, so if you're not a fan of that and would just want to deathmatch or team deathmatch, this isn't for you. But jumping around space in zero gravity and grappling around avoiding gunfire is hard to turn down. $7. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Limited modes (one), but still a fun shooter.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Dungeon Hunter HD

Until Blizzard brings Diablo to the iPad, Dungeon Hunter HD is the closest experience you'll find to the classic, top-down action RPG. You'll notice a few shortcuts (like grainy icons) that were taken in porting Dungeon Hunter from the iPhone version, but you'll quickly look beyond these minor blemishes as you hurl lightning bolts, develop skill trees and, of course, dungeon crawl for loot with superb graphics and some of the best controls you can find on a touchscreen. For $7, it's a no-brainer purchase if you enjoy the genre. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Buy. This. Shit.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies for iPad

It's essentially the same game as the iPhone one, complete with the 2nd add-on DLC map and larger-sized screen/controls. It looks better than you'd expect on an iPad—definitely not as good as a 360, but you'd be impressed. Two of the three control schemes are good. The dual stick and the touch screen are usable, but tilt, the best one on the iPad, is really awkward with the increased weight.

Single player is lots of fun, and 4-player multiplayer, both Internet and local Wi-Fi, work well. The only problem is that connecting to each other is really finicky and dependent on your wireless connection, so it might not work well for you. It's $15 though, so you have to weigh out how much you really want this game compared to the previous two relatively-similar incarnations. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Controls and presentation/graphics are good, but the price is high.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

NetNewsWire for iPad

If you use an RSS reader on the Mac, you know NetNewsWire is the best tool for that job. But the $10 iPad version fell short of my expectations. It handled my countless subscriptions smoothly enough—no small feat—but actually browsing the content was cumbersome, largely because the app puts all navigational buttons at the top of the screen (which makes no sense when you actually hold the iPad). Such design elements may seem trivial, but as soon as you want to casually skim your feed, you'll realize that the interface is constantly fighting you. You can share links to places like Twitter, but beyond that, it's just a $10 means to clunkily experience RSS. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Performance is decent, but navigation needs work—especially with its premium app price.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Touchgrind HD

Basically a higher resolution port of the popular iPhone game. You have a skateboard and use your fingers as makeshift skater legs to ollie, grind, and pop shuvit to your heart's content. The learning curve and turning are a bit hard to grasp initially, but once you get the hang of things the potential for fun really opens up. Sound effects are fantastic and pitch perfect for the most part as you grind from rails to wood to wipe outs, making completed tricks all the more satisfying. Since the game lacks its own music iPod integration is essential—and thankfully present—just create your own custom playlist and skate an endless jam session. The parks are a tad bare and you'll be staring at concrete a lot while you grasp the ins and outs of doing tricks. Unlockable boards are plentiful and keep things engaging while you try to climb the global point leaderboard. Eight dollars is a pretty reasonable price considering some other HD titles are inflated rather ridiculously. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Relatively inexpensive for an HD game. Satisfying sound effects. Learning curve may be a bit rough.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

PAC-MAN

You've probably bought PAC-MAN 5 to 10 times by now on various platforms, and the new iPad version is a most barebones classic version. But I enjoyed the experience enough for it to be worth $5. Why? Nostalgia. And not just PAC-MAN-exclusive nostalgia. I mean, playing PAC-MAN specifically on the iPad reminded me implicitly of the old Coleco game from the 80s. Still, for most people, I have a feeling that $5 for another repackaged version of the game feels a little steep. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

Personally, I dig it. Objectively, it's a bit of a rip-off.

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Zen Bound 2

Review here

iPad App Review Marathon LiveS

Tetris

The $7 you'll pay for the official iPad Tetris app won't buy you anything too revolutionary—if you're a fan of the iPhone game, you'll know what you're getting into on the iPad. The look is the same and so are the controls: you use your finger to drag the blocks to your desired column; you tap the screen to rotate them; and a downward flick sends them zipping towards the bottom of the screen. Of course, you have the option of turning on a D-Pad if you prefer old school gameplay. The app includes Marathon and Magic modes, which were also featured in the iPhone version, so there are no real surprises here. If you're a Tetris fanatic, it's a fine upgrade. If you're a casual fan, it's probably worth sticking with the iPhone version. If you're just looking for something to pass the time, there are a lot more exciting games out there for $7. [iTunes]

iPad App Review Marathon Live

It's touch screen Tetris, no more, no less, same as the iPhone

We ran out of space! For part 2 of our app review marathon go here. For part 3 go here.

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