Apple iPad Review: The Tablet Revolution Begins

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Multi-Media Performance

We'd guess that at least half of iPad buyers are looking to consume multimedia on it, if not more. The race to get ABC, Netflix and a host of other video sites to be "iPad-friendly" before it shipped brings us to that conclusion, not to mention that this form factor is perfect for kicking back and watching a missed episode of your favorite drama or that old Netflix movie you've been meaning to view. The panel is just XGA, meaning that it won't handle anything near 1080p without down-scaling, but in case you forgot just how impressed we were with this panel earlier, let us remind you: it's incredible.

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Watching high-resolution multi-media on the iPad is impressive to be sure. We downloaded an HD episode of "V" just to see how well it handled high-res content (a 1.26GB file for a ~30 minute show), and we were amazed on all fronts. For starters, it loaded up in an instant. It was playing merely moments (not seconds) after we touched it, and it looked stunning. There were no glitches, stutters or excess heat buildup from the pressure of the processing workload. Just a gorgeous look at a gorgeous program. We also flipped the unit side to side and back to front a number of times just to see if the CPU could keep up, and it did. The transitions were seamless and near-instant, far faster than those on the iPhone 3GS. We couldn't believe how well transitions were handled even during the middle of playing back an HD video file.

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All lesser resolution videos also look fine and play back without a hitch, but this unit is begging for high quality rips. It has no issue managing large files and high resolutions, so be sure to throw whatever you've got at it, except for Flash encoded video though, unfortunately.  Other than that, the iPad is a portable movie viewer's fantasy device.  While we wish the resolution of the 9.7" panel was somewhat higher, with a native wide-screen format, the beautiful blacks, deep colors and blistering whites made up for it.  The iPad just looks astounding when used to view high quality multimedia content, and it plays that content back without a hitch, every single time.

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