The iPad Big Picture: What It Does
The iPad has many best-of-class features, but perhaps its most unusual feature is the lack of a physical keyboard or stylus. Instead, it has a 9.7-inch super-high-resolution touchscreen that you operate using your finger.
Here is a brief look at some of the iPad’s features, broken down by product category.
The iPad as an iPod
You can enjoy all your existing iPod content — music, audiobooks, audio and video podcasts, iTunes U courses, music videos, television shows, and movies — on the iPad’s gorgeous high-resolution color display, which is bigger, brighter, and richer than any iPod or iPhone display that came before it.
If you get an error message about an incompatible video file, select the file in iTunes and choose Advanced→Create iPad or Apple TV Version. When the conversion is finished, sync again.
The iPad as an Internet communications device
The iPad is also a full-featured Internet communications device a rich HTML e-mail client that’s compatible with most POP and IMAP mail services, with support for Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. Also onboard is a world-class web browser (Safari) that, unlike on many mobile devices, makes web surfing fun and easy on the eyes.
Another cool Internet feature is Maps, a killer mapping application based on Google Maps. By using GPS (3G or 4G models) or triangulation (Wi-Fi model), the iPad can determine your location, let you view maps and satellite imagery, and obtain driving directions and traffic information regardless of where you happen to be.
The iPad as an e-book reader
Download the free iBooks app or any of the excellent (and free) third-party e-book readers such as the Kindle and Nook apps, and you’ll discover a whole new way of finding and reading books. The iBookstore and relatively new Newsstand app are chock-full of good reading at prices that are lower than a printed copy.
Better still, when you read an e-book, you’re helping the environment and saving trees. Furthermore, some (if not many) titles include audio, video, or graphical content not available in the printed editions. And best of all, a great number of books are absolutely free.
The iPad as a multimedia powerhouse
The spectacular screen found on both iPad models is superb for personal video viewing. Add an adapter cable, and it turns into a superb device for watching video on an HDTV (or even a non-HD TV), with support for output resolutions up to 1080p.
You won’t even need an adapter cable if you have an Apple TV ($99), a marvelous little device that lets you stream audio and video to your HDTV wirelessly.
And the second- and third-generation iPads, with a pair of cameras each (that's four cameras in two iPads) and the included FaceTime video-chatting app, takes iPad’s multimedia acumen to new heights.
The iPad as a platform for third-party apps
Over 550,000 iPhone apps are available, in categories that include games, business, education, entertainment, healthcare and fitness, music, photography, productivity, travel, sports, and many more. The cool thing is that most of those iPhone apps run flawlessly on the iPad.
Meanwhile, the App Store offers more than 170,000 apps designed specifically for the iPad’s large screen, with many more on the way.