The iPad And You

Steve Jobs has lifted the lid on the long-anticipated iPad, but do you really want one? We take a look at how it might enhance your design life.

One of the worst-kept secrets in recent years is finally out in the open: Apple has just announced its tablet and finally confirmed that it's not the iTablet or iSlate but the iPad.

It looks like a giant iPod Touch with a fat bezel, comes in a variety of sizes from 16GB to 64GB with wifi built in and 3G connectivity as an option, it has its own iBooks bookstore to take on the Kindle and other e-readers, and it's fully compatible with everything on the App Store right now.

So, do you need one? We've been paying close attention to the launch and the thing that stood out most to us was a demo of a new iPad version of Brushes, a cheap and cheerful paint package that's already available for the iPhone and iPod touch. It's not Photoshop or Painter, and the lack of pressure sensitivity means that it's not going to rival drawing on a Cintiq, but it'd be perfect for sketching out ideas when you're on the move. And if you'd been hoping for a special iPad version of Photoshop then you're going to be disappointed, and since the iPad, like the iPhone, doesn't support Flash, you can't even use the online app.

Of course as it's compatible with existing apps there's a wealth of software that you're likely to find useful for the iPad, and with the iPad SDK being released immediately there's a good chance of your favourite package being updated to take advantage of the iPad's higher resolution and extra powers. Take a look at our five favourite creative iPhone apps here.

We reckon that the best reason for owning one is going to be as a great way of presenting your work. Load it up with your showreel and artwork and it'll be a perfect digital portfolio; plus if you're pitching for work you'll be able to buy a special iPad version of Keynote for just $9.99 and put the finishing touches to your presentation on the train. And even if the train's delayed the iPad won't fall over; Apple claims ten hours battery life and an entire month of standby time.

Will it live up to the hype? Despite Apple's over-excited description it's far from magical, but it does look like a sleek piece of kit and the price doesn't seem too outlandish; although there's no official UK pricing yet we reckon the basic 16GB model will set you back something in the region of £380-£400. It may not be an essential piece of design tech, but as a platform for web browsing, ebooks and presentation, plus a bit of productivity and plenty of games, it doesn't look half bad.

Hands on: Apple iPad review at