Apple iPad, Day 20: Music, Movies, and Books (Oh My!) With the iPad

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30 Days With the iPad: Day 20

After spending yesterday focused on the iPad as a portable gaming console, it seemed appropriate to stay in entertainment mode. Today, I explore other ways of to spend your leisure time on the iPad--like watching movies or TV shows, listening to music, or reading a good book.

Admittedly, this is the iPad's sweet spot. Productive uses aside, Apple seemed to initially target the tablet as a media consumption device, and iPad naysayers are quick to claim that is all it's good for. It seems reasonable to expect the iPad to excel in this area.

Pandora is a good source of streaming music to mix things up and here some different artists.

Like the iPhone, the iPad has the iPod app as its default media player. The iTunes app is a separate app installed by default which lets me shop online for music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, audio books, and iTunes U (education-oriented audio and video materials).

The iPod app is focused on audio content--playing music, podcasts, and audio books. I have a 64GB iPad, so it can hold a fair amount of music. I have enough music stored on the iPad to play for days without repeating, and I haven't even filled half of the 64GB. I am not in love with the iPod app, but it has always seemed functional enough. I can find my music by song, artist, album, genre, or composer, and create and play playlists, so it does the trick.

If I want to go beyond my own music collection, I have a couple different options. I can use an online music provider like Pandora, or I can use apps that stream live radio content to the iPad. I have the Pandora app, which is nice because I can select a song or artist I am in the mood for, and Pandora will play a diverse array of songs and artists that are similar.

For radio content, I have a couple apps. One is specifically for KRBE 104.1 FM here in the Houston area. The other is the app, which has a wide range of radio stations scattered across the nation--including Houston's KHMX 96.5 FM. Unfortunately, both are actually iPhone apps, but since they work. The KRBE app has additional features like links to the station's photos, Twitter feed, news blog and other information.

There are two things all of these apps have in common. First, all of them remain on in the background so you can continue to listen to music even if you switch to another app to get some work done. Second, they are all capable of streaming audio over AirPlay as well so you can use the iPad to beam music to better speakers.

When iOS 5 and iCloud get here, the iPad will be even more impressive. I can store my entire music collection online with iCloud and be able to access and stream it on the go from anywhere, and automatically sync my iTunes purchases to my other compatible devices.

Kindle for iPad
I prefer the Kindle app on the iPad to the Kindle itself for reading books.

When the iPad was first introduced, Apple also invested some fanfare in promoting its new electronic book store and app--iBooks. iBooks is nice, but I really don't use it. There was a free copy of Winnie the Pooh that came with iBooks when it first launched which I read to my daughter, but other than that I haven't touched iBooks.

Barnes and Noble has an app for its Nook content, and Amazon has the Kindle app. I have both installed, but I really only use the Kindle app.

I don't have anything against iBooks, or Barnes and Noble per se. It's just that I have an established trust and business relationship with Amazon, and I also own an actual Kindle. It is nice to be able to purchase a book and have it be instantly available on my Kindle, iPad, or iPhone (if I was really desperate to read something).

I like digital books on the iPad. Although the Kindle's e-ink display wins if I am out in direct sunlight, the iPad wins if I am in low light, or reading in the dark, and I prefer swiping to turn pages as opposed to pushing buttons on the Kindle.

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