By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

When you’re looking to buy a computer that will last you several years, it can pay dividends to spend more on a high-end model that will deliver greater value over time.

Sure, you could grab one out of the bargain bin, but don’t expect its plastic case to stand the test of time. And do you really want one that’s thicker than a dictionary?

Diving deeper into your wallet is more likely to fetch you one that’s slim and lightweight yet built like a tank, with a dazzling display and powerful components that are capable of running even the most demanding software for some time to come.

However, with so many models and options out there on the market, it isn’t always easy to tell whether computers represent genuine quality or carry a brand premium.

To help, Microsoft has launched a new hand-picked collection of premium PCs called the Windows Premium Collection. They all run the latest Windows 10 operating system and combine slim and modern hardware designs with cutting-edge software.

Better yet, these impressive offerings represent years of evolutionary design; thinner, faster, harder, you’ll be able to count on them for years to come.

Flipping useful

The first two entries in this list come from Microsoft itself – and it shows. The Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book are tailor made for Windows 10 and show off the company’s hardware and software working in beautiful harmony.

Surface Pro 4

The Surface Pro 4 is a 12.3-inch tablet that can be used like a laptop when combined with its super-slim keyboard accessory. Featuring a spacious display with a productivity-enhancing 3:2 aspect ratio, which is closer to a piece of A4 paper in shape compared to traditional widescreen laptops, the Surface Pro 4 is perfect for typing up documents, browsing the web and even drawing thanks to its digital pen.

Weighing just 1.7 pounds and measuring 8.3mm thick, this flexible tablet is portable enough to take anywhere and packs the power of a full-sized laptop thanks to housing Intel’s powerful Core-series processors inside, alongside a capacious 1TB SSD and large battery life capable of delivering up to 9 hours of battery life.

As with all devices running Windows 10, Surface Pro 4 comes with Microsoft’s Cortana personal assistant that adds an extra way of interacting with Windows 10 by using your voice to ask for anything from weather updates to football scores and even adding dates to your calendar.

Surface Book

Next up, the Microsoft Surface Book represents a revolution in laptop design. Unlike the Surface Pro 4, which is a tablet first and laptop second, it comes in the classic laptop shape but features a detachable 13.5-inch display that can be removed and used a tablet at any time.

Milled out of a single piece of magnesium alloy, the Surface Book brings a rock solid chassis that sports two full-size USB 3.0 ports, a full-size SD Card reader, a Surface Connect port and a mini-DisplayPort for hooking up to an external monitor.

Surface Book comes with the latest Windows 10 Anniversary Edition, which features the Windows Ink software hub. Here you’ll find everything you need for interacting with the display using the supplied Surface Pen – from drawing over the top of websites to creating masterpiece drawings or writing yourself reminders to be synced to Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud service.

Envy X360

Another flexible device, the 15.6-inch HP Envy X360 15.6-inch can also be used as a tablet or laptop but without detaching the display. Instead, this larger 15.6-inch device uses an innovative 360-degree hinge to flip the display all of the way around, allowing it to stand in several different positions.

You can stand it up like a regular laptop, flip the screen all the way around to use the Envy as a big tablet, or even position it in an inverted ‘V’ shape to turn it into a monitor for streaming online video and watching with a friend.

For creatives working with media, the Envy X360 features a huge 1TB hard disk option, which combines with a 128GB SSD for incredibly fast boot and application loading times. That’s twinned with Bang & Olufsen speakers with HP Audio Boost for custom-tuned audio.

Thanks to an integrated HD infrared webcam, the Envy X360 allows you to log into Windows 10 using Intel’s facial recognition technology and Windows Hello, saving you from having to remember yet another password. Frequent travellers looking to swap storage for extra battery life may be interested in the 13-inch version of the X360.

It still comes with a sizeable 512GB SSD but increase the 15-inch model’s 9.75 hours of battery life for a massive 12.5 hours, placing all-day working without having to reach for a plug socket squarely on the menu.

Spectre x360

Another convertible laptop, the HP Spectre x360 is more manageable than the Envy X360 due to its smaller 13.3-inch display. However, it still manages to match that machine’s 12.5 hours of battery life, making it a reliable option for catching up on episodes of The Apprentice on train journeys without hogging half of the table. Featuring an alluring gold-and-black design, it’s bound to catch eyes.

The Spectre x360 remains one of the most comfortable convertible laptops to grip thanks to its rounded corners and military-grade metal construction. You can feel the benefit when holding the device in tablet mode with the display folded all of the way around, or resting it in your lap.

Videos appear mesmerising on its vibrant 1,920 x 1,080 pixel-resolution display, which provides ample space for being productive on the desktop. Configurable with up to an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB or RAM and Iris graphics, there’s more than enough power under the Spectre x360’s hood to run multiple applications at the same time under Windows 10.

XPS 13 and XPS 15

If you don’t require a laptop that boasts the flexibility of a tablet, the Dell XPS 13 and XPS 15 are the way to go.

Both feature Dell’s innovative ‘Infinity Edge’ display technology, which shrinks the bezels down on the sides of the display to mere millimetres. The main benefit there is that Dell XPS 13, which weighs just 2.7 pounds, has the footprint of an 11-inch laptop while featuring a pixel-packed display.

The impressive combination makes it the most bag-friendly 13-inch laptop that can also handle demanding applications. It’s a similar story with the XPS 15, which carries the footprint of a smaller 14-inch laptop but can also be configured with a powerful Nvidia GTX 960M graphics solution for playing the latest games at high-quality settings.

Combining magnesium-alloy materials on the lid and base with a luxurious soft-touch carbon-fiber base rest, Dell’s high-end XPS laptops represent the pinnacle of luxury in fantastic form factors.

Perfect partners

As if these impressive devices aren’t tempting enough on their own, you can save £20 on Microsoft Office, or £60 on McAfee LiveSafe Unlimited 2016 when you buy any Laptop, PC, Mac, iPad or tablet from Currys PC World.

Plus, enjoy a range of versatile delivery options including free delivery within 5 working days and next day delivery from £3.95. Just can’t wait? No problem. Reserve online for free and collect at a local store as soon as you like. Once reserved, your item will be held until closing time the next day, to be paid for when you collect.

Powered by WPeMatico

By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

Are you sure your monitor’s big enough? Does that mouse glide as smoothly as it could, and wouldn’t your life be better with a convertible notebook? If you’re a computer fan, you’re probably asking yourself these very questions in the run up to Christmas, a highly festive and upgrade-friendly time of the year.

Whether you’re thinking of giving your computing setup a dramatic overhaul, or only need to replace your old squeaking mouse, we’ve picked out ideal replacement products and inserted them into our buying guides below.  

Computing gift guides

Best computing systems

Best computing peripherals

Powered by WPeMatico

By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

Each successive year brings a fresh batch of PC peripherals designed to help you eke maximum enjoyment out of the latest games.

Unlike graphics cards, processors and other components that get more powerful as time goes on, peripherals follow no obvious blueprint. As such, their makers tend to focus on value, innovation and, of course, trends.

This year we’ve seen more RGB-backlit pads, keyboards, mice and headsets than you could shake a USB stick at. And if you haven’t upgraded to a mechanical keyboard yet then, well, let’s just say you’re not short of options if you do make the jump.

Without further ado, click (or tap) on ahead to see which PC peripherals we’ve enjoyed wielding in our clammy, competitive hands in 2016.

  • You’ll need the best PC to go with it

Of all the peripherals to splash out on, none can instantly raise your game like a surround-sound gaming headset – and the RGB-backlit Arctis 5 do it in effortless style.

A soft and comfortable patterned headband makes them look like a pair of cans you might take to the gym, and they’re great for both extended gaming sessions and listening to music on your smartphone thanks to their unusually long cable.
The Arctis 5 boast clear mid-range tones and punchy bass, and they really come to life once you activate the onboard DTS Headphone 7.1 Surround Sound mode.

It helps pick out enemies’ footsteps from across the room and around corners, which makes all the difference when one bullet in a shooter spells game over.
In comparison to busier headsets like Razer’s Man’O War and Logitech’s Artemis Spectrum, the Arctis 5 almost hides its gamer credentials while packing many of their crucial features.

Having manufactured keyboards sporting its own green and orange key switches in recent years, Razer knows how the feeling of a keyboard can make gamers tick.

The Ornata stands apart from the Corsair K70s and Logitech G810s of this world by featuring a low-profile body shape and shorter, sculpted mid-height keycaps.

It features Razer’s new “mecha-membrane” switch under the keys, which retain the tactile “click” of Cherry MX Blue mechanical keyboards while sporting a lower actuation (or travel distance) point.

The result is a keyboard that lets you execute double-taps and other key commands in a split second while feeling effortless to type on.
We also love its lava-like RGB backlighting and plush wrist rest, which feels like a sport car’s leather interior.

Keeping your laptop’s temperatures down using a cooling pad is a great way to help improve its gaming performance without breaking the bank.

Cooler Master’s NotePal is an affordable and stylish laptop cooler that’s constructed of durable aluminium. Sturdy while your machine is placed on top, its two 80mm clip-on fans can be positioned to target graphics cards and other components that get toasty when placed under load.

The NotePal can even be used as a permanent home for your gaming laptop when you’re stationary thanks to cable grooves that keep wires tidy.

Because it’s powered by your laptop using two USB ports, the unit works best when paired with Cooler Master’s USB hub that adds a host of extra ports. 

A webcam? In a PC gaming peripherals round-up? That’s right – the  C922 is no ordinary office webcam (though you can use it for regular conference calls). It’s specifically designed for the Twitch generation – gamers who stream gameplay footage online with themselves in the background, in other words.

It lets you broadcast your gameplay in Full HD resolution while streaming your facial expressions at 720p and 60 frames per second (or fps). Much like Razer’s Stargazer webcam, the C922 can automatically cut out the background behind you, leaving nothing but your animated self in the frame alongside your streamed gameplay footage.

While it lacks the Stargazer’s RealSense tech that lets  you log into your computer using your face, the Logitech boasts better low-light correction and comes with a 3- or 6-month XSplit Premium license depending on where you buy it from. 

You probably spend tens of hours a week gaming in a chair, so why not make sure you’re sat in a comfortable one?

noblechairs’ Epic features the same wide-back adjustable design as its Real Leather cousin, but instead uses a faux leather covering inspired by car seats to keep costs down.

This is still much more expensive than your average gaming chair, and you’ll feel the difference when your rear’s planted firmly in it.

It features fully adjustable height controls, the arm rests raise and lower and you can tilt back in it almost to the point where it almost doubles up as a bed.
For a truly authentic racing car-like experience, pair it with the next peripheral on our list… 

Compatible with consoles in addition to PCs, Logitech’s G29 steering wheel features an authentic leather cover that goes a long way to drawing you into the world of a real-life racing driver.

The successor to the G27 features 900-degree lock-to-lock rotation, allowing you to correct your path through over or understeering in simulators such as Assetto Corsa and Project Cars. The G29 also packs in dual-motor force feedback that lets you feel every shock and vibration – especially in rally simulators and other off-road racers.

And it’s not just the wheel that impresses – its floor pedal unit mimics the performance of a pressure-sensitive brake system for a responsive and accurate breaking feel. It won’t slip around on your floor either thanks to rubber feet for hard surfaces and a retractable carpet grip system. 

Most people bawk when they see the price of the Xbox One Elite controller. Console accessories are supposed to be relatively affordable, but the flagship Xbox One controller isn’t designed purely for use with Microsoft’s console – it works with PCs and laptops running Windows 10 too.

When you look at it that way, it’s around the same cost as a mid-range mechanical keyboard – and it’s about as premium as controllers get.
The Elite’s metal and plastic construction lends it a reassuringly weighty feel in the hand.

Easy to grip, it comes with swappable thumbsticks of varying lengths that are suitable for different genres. Shorter sticks, for example, make it easier to execute tight turns in shooters, while the longer ones provide extra stability in racers.

There’s even more control around the back, where you can fire off commands to your heart’s content using swappable triggers. 

A mighty impressive Full HD monitor that’s a perfect fit for esports players (or anybody who’s competitive online), the ROG Swift MG248Q is a speed demon. With a 1ms response time and blazing 144Hz refresh rate, this monitor makes gaming smooth as butter if you have the graphics card to drive it.

Only owners of AMD’s GPUs will feel the full benefit here, as the MG248Q features compatible Adaptive Sync tech that reduces screen tearing when the two are paired.

While we recognise that owners of Nvidia’s graphics cards are better off going for the G-Sync-equipped ROG Swift PG248Q, the MG248Q can be picked up for £150  (around $180) less online making it a much more viable option for competitive gamers on a budget. With its angular base and black-and-red design, it looks darn cool too. 

Everything has RGB lighting these days – from gaming headsets to mice and even motherboards. It was only a matter of time before your mouse pad started flashing all the colors of the rainbow.

On that note, say hello to the Razer FireFly. Available in micro-textured cloth finish and hard surface options, this 4mm-thick mouse pad offers a capacious surface area for mousing with precision.

Its main draw, however, is its customizable Chrome RGB backlighting that can be programmed to flash along with Razer’s other peripherals.

It was the only mouse pad to light up until the arrival of Corsair’s MM800 RGB Polaris, which serves up an intriguing alternative thanks to its built-in USB port – especially if you own any of that company’s gaming devices. 

The rising popularity of 4K TVs and console-sized PCs has seen some PC gamers leave the comfort of their bedrooms for the living room.

Spotting the trend, Corsair has built the Lapdog for keyboard-and-mouse die-hards looking to replicate the feeling of sitting at a desk while kicking back on the couch.

Unlike the Razer Turret lapboard which integrates a chiclet-style membrane keyboard, the Lapdog lets you insert a full-sized Corsair K65 or K70 mechanical keyboard, which is positioned to the left of its massive hard mouse pad.

It has several USB ports out the back, meaning you can hook up other wired peripherals and devices without having to leave your comfort zone – literally. 

Powered by WPeMatico

By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

Just a few years ago, pundits were predicting the beginning of the end for traditional desktop PCs. Though not as prevalent as they once were, desktop computers are still kicking, even with the rise of devices speculated to “replace” them.

What many of us overlooked was the appeal of the desktop on a fundamental level. Buying one means averting dead batteries and the option to replace parts individually when they stop working. It also means streaming services, like Netflix, in 4K – assuming you’re equipped with the gear to support them.

  • For a PC that doubles as a game system, check out the best gaming PC

Unlike smartphones and tablets, a desktop computer can be as powerful as your wallet can handle. Modular by nature, upgradeability in other devices generally pales in comparison to that of a PC. The CPU, graphics card and disk drive can all be swapped out for improved components down the line.

With that in mind, there is also a wide range of form factors to choose from when shopping around for a new PC. The ease of use associated with all-in-ones, like the Surface Studio, is sure to appeal to some while others will prefer the inexpensive media devices crafted for the living room known as mini PCs.

With the exception of our Apple examples, which come bearing macOS 10.12 Sierra, and the Chrome OS-equipped Acer Chromebase, you can expect any one of the PCs on this list to support Windows 10 – whether out of the box or with an upgrade.

In this article, we’ve grouped 10 of the best computers, ordered from the highest to lowest in terms of pricing, specs and our reviews where applicable. That said, our list is subject to change as even more fantastic PCs make their way to market.

Apple iMac

The iMac is known for its essentialism. Easy-to-use hardware combined with the famed accessibility of macOS makes for a nigh-perfect computing experience. A built-in screen, speakers and 802.11ac wireless networking are only complemented by the fantastic Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2. All you need is a power cable to get it up and running.

There’s quite a range of iMacs, starting at £899 (around $1,365 or AUS$1,943) for an entry-level 21.9-inch model with a dual-core processor that’s just enough for basic tasks, up to 27-inch iMacs with quad-core processors and even the optional 5K display. If you want a faster, quieter and more reliable storage option, you can opt for a hybrid solid state drive as well.

Even on the low-end model, the IPS display is bright and vivid, with a clever design where the edges of the aluminum chassis are thinner than many standalone monitors. And as standard, the iMac runs macOS, although Apple makes it very easy to install Windows alongside if you want to continue using your existing Windows software.

Read the full review: Apple iMac with 5K Retina display

Apple 4K iMac

Boasting a vibrant Retina 4K display that’s packed with color, Apple’s new 21.5-inch iMac is a small bundle of aluminum joy. Its display’s massive, 4,096 x 2,304 pixel-resolution is great for surfing the web in comfort with multiple windows side-by-side in El Capitan’s Split View in addition to image and video editing, watching 4K video content and just about everything else.

As expected from an Apple computer, it’s a typically well-built machine that, in true iMac tradition, barely takes up more space on your desk than a larger laptop. Apple is bundling the 4K iMac with a superb set of accessories, too including the latest versions of its Magic Mouse 2, Magic Trackpad 2 and its all-new Magic Keyboard.

Just make sure you upgrade the standard spinning hard drive to a 1TB Fusion Drive (or even better, the 256GB SSD) if you want to shell out a bit more cash to eliminate lengthy loading times.

Read the full review: Apple iMac with 4K Retina display (21.5-inch, Late 2015)

Dell Inspiron 3000

Sure, it’s not quite as small as a PC like the Acer Revo Build or an Intel Compute Stick, but you can configure a Dell Inspiron Dekstop as a mini-tower, and therefore, it won’t take up too much space either on a desk or underneath it. 

With a black design and a silver trim, Dell has gone to some length to make this standard PC chassis look quite sleek and a bit more exciting than a mere black box. As standard, it has a dual-core Intel Core i3 Skylake processor rather than a Celeron, and 8GB of memory – so it’s a lot more capable than the Revo Build.

For an extra bit of cash, you can upgrade the processor to a quad-core Intel Core i5-4460 and the graphics card to a discrete Nvidia GeForce 730 or an even more powerful AMD Radeon HD R9, for a decent all-round performance boost.

Apple Mac Mini

The Mac mini exhibits the luxury of an Apple desktop without the price tag to match. Starting at a mere $499 (£399, AU$779), the Mac mini is barebones yet affordable. Though it ships without the otherwise expected Magic Mouse and Keyboard peripherals, getting to choose your own accessories is, at the very least, liberating.

And, while it hasn’t been updated in quite some time on the hardware front, the Mac Mini’s Haswell-based i5 processor still chugs along nicely. Plus, with Iris Graphics onboard, you’ll get a bit more juice than expected. Combined with 500GB of storage space and 4GB of RAM, the Mac mini is arguably the best starting point for OS X newcomers even if a contemporary makeover is long past due.

With an aluminum shell and simplistic industrial design, the Mac mini represents Apple at its very core. Where it mainly lacks, however, is in performance. Luckily the option for a Fusion Drive, which marries the power of both HDD and SSD technology, somewhat makes up for this inadequacy. A configuration sporting 8GB of RAM is an option too, but if you don’t want to shell out the extra cash, the base model will do just fine.

Read the full review: Apple Mac mini

Asus K31ADE

Asus is a unique PC maker in that it offers a wide range of computers for a variety of different types of users. You typically won’t find in a mini PC with this many configuration options that no matter which one you opt for, the underlying computer remains the same. 

The VivoMini UN45 may look like one of Asus’ DVD burners, but in reality, it’s a full-fledged desktop that can be used as a companion for watching 4K movies in your home theater or it can even be connected normally to a monitor or a TV. 

Moreover, the UN45 bears an M.2 SSD regardless of which model you opt for, ranging from 32GB to 128GB. However, if you don’t mind the reduction in performance and configure your VivoMini UN45 with an Intel Celeron N3000, you’ll get the liberty of a fanless design that’s completely silent even when the CPU is under full load.

Acer Revo One

The Acer Revo Build is one of the few desktop computers you can actually take advantage of on the go in addition to with your at-home setup. Featuring upgradeability that’s as easy as stacking Lincoln Logs, the Revo Build is both the perfect media PC and a stellar charging station for your other devices.

Unfortunately, that’s assuming you shell out enough for the most expensive configuration, which comprises an Audio Block for built-in sound output, a 1TB hard drive block and even a graphics block for Ultra HD video. The Revo Build packs in not one, but three USB ports, an SD card slot and even DisplayPort. Plus, if your phone is up to task, you can even utilize wireless charging. 

Read the full review: Acer Revo Build

HP Pavilion Mini

The HP Pavilion Wave is the latest in a trend of desktops posing as entirely different hardware. This time it’s a speaker, thanks to a partnership with Bang & Olufsen, and the HP Pavilion Wave succeeds where others have failed. Rather than muddling the audio quality exerted from the Wave’s onboard speaker system, HP and B&O Play have devised an audio fabric that actually improves on sound quality and looks good doing it.

At the same time, the HP Pavilion Wave manages to future-proof itself with Bluetooth 4.2 capabilities, three standard USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, DisplayPort and even a single USB Type-C port. 

Unfortunately, there’s a sheer lack of upgradeability that comes with the territory of buying a PC like this. That wouldn’t be such a problem if the parts it came with were more impressive, but the HP Pavilion Wave tops off at a Core i5 processor and 8GB of RAM with no option for an SSD in sight.

Read the first look: HP Pavilion Wave

HP 260 G1

When we reviewed the original Intel Compute Stick, we were undeniably disappointed by its lackluster performance and ostensibly unnecessary fan integration. Well over a year later, Intel has addressed both of these complaints with one major change: the switch to the company’s Core M-series processors. 

Whether you’re appeased by the Core m3 or you need the slight bump in power exhibited by the Core m5, the Intel Compute Stick offers a solution. Of course, it’s still not ideal to pack a fan into a tiny dongle, especially when the Core M CPUs were designed with noise elimination in mind. 

But, the Intel Compute Stick still maintains a cost low enough to where it may not matter if it doesn’t run completely silent. Its tiny form factor and powerful (for the price) CPU is enough to tide you over nonetheless.

Read the full review: Intel Compute Stick

Lenovo IdeaCentre Q190

When it’s not busy perfecting its ThinkPad formula, Lenovo is hard at work on its bombastic series of entertainment-centric desktops. Stacked with one of the most powerful Skylake processors on the market combined with a discrete GPU of your choosing as well as your preferred hard drive and solid state drive pairing, the Lenovo IdeaCentre 710 is more than enough for 4K video playback and then some.

Although it’s designed more for video editing than twitch-shooting, the IdeaCentre 710 can handle some light- to medium-weight gaming with ease. It might not run the latest Battlefield at the highest settings in 1080p, the IdeaCentre 710 is still far more capable than it has any right to be – and without costing a fortune at that.

Aside from the limited GPU configuration options, the only complaint we have is that for such a high-quality machine, the Lenovo IdeaCentre 710 ships with Windows 10 Home rather than Windows 10 Pro. As a result, you’ll need to upgrade manually if you want the option to defer updates or access your desktop remotely.

LG Chromebase

Chromebooks are Google’s reaction to cheap laptops that can barely run Windows 10 but, for whatever reason, still do. As such, there’s no reason the Chromebook operating system, Chrome OS, can’t be applied to all-in-one PCs as well. That’s the logic behind Acer’s Chromebase 24, a powerful performer with some nifty additives.

Being an all-in-one, it bears the same benefits as Apple’s far more expensive iMac – no need for loose cables spread across the floor. The speakers (of which there are two, along with four mics) are built into the display, which itself extends from the computer it contains.

Chrome OS is cleverly designed to work with files stored in the cloud rather than locally, as Google Apps substitutes Microsoft Office. It takes some getting used to, but once you do get into the swing of things, the Acer Chromebook 24 works, and it works well.

  • Find out how HoloLens will change computing forever

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article

Powered by WPeMatico

By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

Update: Our latest entry may cling to last year’s flagship GPU tech, but it does so with accentuated flair. Read up on the Acer Predator 17 X at number 4!

You don’t want to build a computer. No matter how much better the value is, the sheer amount of time spent perfecting a build takes away from, frankly already limited, game time. 

Instead, you would rather fast-forward to the fun part: actually playing games. Keep in mind that while there are more than enough gaming laptops on the market to choose from, the convenience of taking your rig on the go, complete with a built-in monitor and keyboard isn’t cheap.

On the low end, a decent notebook will set you back around $1,400 (about £900). For the best PC games at a 4K resolution and consistent frame rates, you can expect to hand over significantly more of your savings for sufficient hardware.

That’s assuming, though, that the games themselves are optimized enough to run properly. Fortunately, if you’re in the market for VR, lower system requirements equate to a greater swath of gaming laptops you can choose from – assuming you’d rather not go for a VR backpack from Zotac.

Here we’ve sampled a number gaming laptops from different manufacturers spanning various budgets, ensuring that there’s something in store for everyone to enjoy…

Best gaming laptops

The Asus Strix GL502 may not boast the most innovative design, swapping out the usual black and red color scheme for one that makes it feel like Halloween year-round. But, it’s undoubtedly one of the best when it comes to gaming in 1080p. In fact, we were able to crank the settings all the way up in Overwatch without taking a hit below 60fps. The battery life is janky, sure, but the screen, performance and onboard sound system more than make up for it.

Read the full review: Asus ROG Strix GL502

Unlike most laptops its size, the Alienware 13 R3 bears a hinge-forward design. By moving the heatsinks usually located beneath the keyboard to a distinct bulge that projects outward behind the screen, it allows for a thinner, 0.81-inch (0.22cm) chassis. Unfortunately, this means you won’t find many 13-inch laptop bags that will actually suit the Alienware 13 R3; rather you’ll likely have to opt for a 15-inch carrier. The real draw, however, isn’t the Alienware 13 R3’s protruding appendage or even its impressive quad-core, H-class CPU. While you may be tempted by the inclusion of a full-size Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060, it’s the OLED touch display that caught our attention. The flavorful color gamut puts practically every other laptop on the market to shame.

Read the full review: Alienware 13 R3

Best Gaming Laptops

The Origin EON15-X is a real head turner. Packing a desktop Skylake processor and a full-size Nvidia Pascal-series GPU into a fairly compact 15.6-inch notebook, Origin’s greatest offers even more performance than some hardy gaming towers. The extra CPU power is handy for users who need to edit video and other processor intensive tasks that a mobile chip can’t handle. You’ll also get an extra kick of performance no matter what game you’re running. Combined with a powerful GPU and a not-so-shabby battery life, the Origin EON15-X is definitely worth consideration over all others.

Read the full review: Origin EON15-X

The Predator 17 X isn’t the kind of laptop you would take to a coffee shop on a Tuesday afternoon to catch up on assignments. Unless you don’t mind lugging around a bulky power brick and a 10.03-pound (4.67kg) computer, this is a notebook best left at home. The Predator 17 X is, however, one of the most well-rounded gaming laptops. A desktop-class Nvidia GeForce GTX 980, for instance, is built into the base of the machine, making it (just barely) capable of gaming in 4K. This is a smart move considering that, if you shell out a bit more cash over the base model, the 17 X boasts an Ultra HD display, complete with G-Sync functionality. Paired with more than enough ports to get the job done, the Acer Predator 17 X is well worth the steep asking price, even if it does take three-and-a-half hours to charge.

Read the full review: Acer Predator 17 X

best gaming laptops

Entry-level gaming laptops are a great introduction into the glorious world of PC gaming, and from performance to looks, it’s hard to beat the Lenovo Ideapad Y700. Considering its modest price-point, the Y700 stands out among the rest, in terms of budget gaming machines, thanks to a metal chassis and included SSD. It even comes packed with enough power to run modern games at decent settings.

Read the full review: Lenovo Ideapad Y700 15-inch

best gaming laptop

With a knack for style and a featherlight exterior, the MSI GS60 Ghost Pro is among the slimmest gaming laptops money can buy. That said, don’t confuse thinness with lackluster performance. The Skylake Core i7 CPU featured in the GS60 perfectly marries the still-impressive GTX 970M, so long as you’re playing at 1080p on medium to high graphics settings. Sure, it’s not a top-end pick, but in the end, your wallet will thank you.

Read the full review: MSI GS60 Ghost Pro

best gaming laptops

Like the GameCube of laptops, the HP Omen 17 has the build quality of a children’s toy. However, when you see what it can do, you’ll wonder why it didn’t cost more. At 7 pounds, you’ll have to forgive the weight of the HP Omen 17 if you want to benefit from its 17-inch Quad-HD display. Of course, although the GTX 1070 is more of a 1440p performer than a 4K one, you can still expect a consistent 30 fps in games like The Division at the highest graphical settings. Overall, the HP Omen 17 is HP’s Gigabyte P57X equivalent, but with Bang & Olufsen speakers that might tip you over the edge.

Read the full review: HP Omen 17

Best Gaming Laptops

The Asus ROG G752 bears an aggressive design that sets it apart from the many, more sedate gaming laptops that inhabit the world. Instead of donning the black plastic shell typical of hardware in its class, the ROG G752 sports a shell brushed with aluminum panels, angular lines and glowing red segments. On top of its in-your-face styling, this 17-incher delivers tremendous performance, running modern blockbusters at max settings and with ease. The only thing missing is a 4K screen.

Read the full review: Asus ROG G752

best gaming laptop

For many gamers, Ultrabook is a four-letter word, but it doesn’t have to be. The first time you get your hands on a Razer Blade, you’ll be looking at a battery life of 3 hours and 35 minutes in-game (or six hours of non-stop video). While you could argue it does skimp as far as graphics are concerned, with the help of a Razer Core external GPU enclosure, you can strap an Nvidia Titan X inside if you want.

Read the full review: Razer Blade

Best gaming laptops

The Origin EON17-SLX gives new meaning to portability. This 17-inch notebook combines the power of a desktop-grade Intel processor and an Nvidia GPU, making it one of history’s most powerful mobile machines. Of course, it comes with the sacrifice of portability in both weight and battery life. If these are worthy trade-offs for greater performance, you won’t find a better machine whether you’re a hardcore gamer or a media creator. 

Read the full review: Origin EON17-SLX

  • Only interested in light gaming? Try a Surface Book on for size

Powered by WPeMatico

By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

Suburban complexes in Sydney and Melbourne owned by property developer Stockland have just employed new shopping assistants to help the public with their Christmas shopping. 

The shopping centres are sharing prototypes of a social humanoid robot called Chip. The 100-kilo, 1.7-metre tall robots are more than happy to help with your shopping; they were developed by Spanish company PAL Robotics and are owned by the Commonwealth Bank.

Each Chip is armed with a 12.1-inch touchscreen on its chest that can direct shoppers to stores that have sales, or show them the way to a particular shop. The robots also have the ability to carry shopping bags to the car.

Chip has myriad cameras, lasers, ultrasound scanners, microphones and speakers installed that help with face recognition, and allow the robots to have conversations and answer questions. 

Stockland is the first company to use robotics in its shopping complexes in Australia, and the Merrylands centre in Western Sydney is the first to test the robot-human interaction.

Students from five leading Australian technology universities have also been granted access to the social robotics technology in Chip, and have been given the opportunity to run experiments and conduct research. 

Robotic assistants are big business, with predictions being that the global robotics market will be worth AU$181 billion (US$135 billion) by 2019. Just a couple of months ago, JLL Australia introduced its newest robot receptionist called JiLL, a fully automated visitor management solution to greet visitors and couriers, and help staff with front-of-house tasks.

Powered by WPeMatico

By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

Update: We’ve swapped out last year’s ‘old’ MacBook Pro with our recently reviewed 15-inch MacBook Pro, Touch Bar and all, at number 13 on our list!

It was only a few years ago that we were all prematurely declaring the death of the PC, thanks to the swarm of tablet computers that flooded market following the lead of the iPad in 2010. While a handful of these slates saw success, many did not, inspiring renewed interest in laptops and hybrid devices.

Laptops in particular have found a fresh sense of purpose, mainly as a result of Microsoft’s efforts in unifying Windows 10 across all sorts of devices. These include (but aren’t limited to) thin, light and stylish notebooks ideal for any budget. Even if you’re unfazed by the latest MacBook Pro, there is bound to be something out there for you.

Someone drawn to lengthy battery life, fanless designs, web browsing and light word processing, for instance, might consider an Ultrabook. Otherwise, 2-in-1 laptops make life easier by taking on the duties of both laptops and tablets. Some are even impervious to drops and spills despite their touch screens.

Notwithstanding, more conventional laptops still remain. Those interested in video editing and gaming are more concerned with fast-paced efficiency than svelte designs and seamless portability. Nearly half-day battery life be damned, some would rather have a desktop-grade processor and discrete graphics.

Suffice to say, there are many options to choose from, but finding the best laptop to suit your needs doesn’t need to be a chore. To help you on your quest, we’ve gathered a definitive list of the 15 best laptops money can buy.

Best laptops

The Dell XPS 13 is, bar none, the best laptop you can buy today. It features a revolutionary design that’s astonishingly thin and light. Fitting a 13.3-inch screen into an 11-inch frame is no small feat; however, Dell has managed to pull off a miracle with its nearly borderless Infinity display. It’s a powerful and long-lasting machine even by today’s Ultrabook standards. The XPS 13 comes outfitted with Intel’s latest Skylake processors plus lighting, quick storage and memory, all while coming in at a very affordable starting price. It should comes as no surprise, then, that we’ve ranked it as the best Ultrabook, the best Windows laptop and the best laptop overall.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

Best laptops

If you’re looking for a Windows alternative to Apple’s latest rose-tinted MacBook, the Asus ZenBook UX305 might be more your speed. Though it looks like a Cupertino design from every angle, it’s actually superior to Apple’s creations in almost every way. From its purple-tinged aluminum design to its sharp display and hearty helping of built-in storage space, the UX305 puts Windows back in style, fanless design, long battery life and all. And, while the low-cost is enticing, if you’re shopping for something with a bit more horsepower (not to mention an even more compact design), look no further than the Asus ZenBook 3.

Read the full review: Asus ZenBook UX305

Best laptops

Though it’s a little on the pricey side when you opt for a faster processor or a higher screen resolution, the HP Chromebook 13 is one of the more stylish notebooks money can buy. You won’t look out of place in a coffee shop full of MacBooks, and your wallet will thank you for choosing the HP Chromebook 13 instead. What’s more, the it’s even comfortable to use. The keyboard feels sturdy but compact. At the same time, the option of a QHD+ display provides users with the space and clarity required to pull off just about anything without the unnecessary eyestrain induced by more economical alternatives.

Read the full review: HP Chromebook 13 

Best laptops

The Razer Blade Stealth is an exceptional Ultrabook hindered only by its efforts in trying to be a gaming laptop. Price-wise, it has the upperhand against key competitors, but don’t be fooled – with an Intel Kaby Lake Core i7 processor, the latest Blade Stealth is more powerful and power-efficient than ever. Better yet, this laptop can change the lighting of each key on its keyboard, with more than 16.8 million colors to choose from. Plus, if you mind the integrated graphics from Intel, you can attach a (albeit rather pricey) Razer Core external GPU enclosure for boosted performance when stationary.

Read the full review: Razer Blade Stealth

Best laptops

The Samsung Notebook 9 may not be the flashiest title on the list, but at $949 it does offer more bang for the buck than you’ll see in most laptops. That’s because unlike much of the competition now, it’s an Ultrabook with a full-fledged Core i5 Skylake processor. That alone makes it effectively more powerful than a MacBook Air with a better screen resolution and price point to boot. On the downside, it’s the battery life that takes a hit as a result.

Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 9

Best laptops

If you’re looking for a more traditional notebook, Microsoft knocked it out of the park with its first laptop ever, the Surface Book. Though it has a peculiar 3:2 aspect ratio and 13.5-inch screen that’s outside of the norm for most Ultrabooks, it’s one of the best designed convertible laptops ever created. As a standalone tablet, otherwise known as the Clipboard, it’s the most powerful and thinnest Windows 10 computers in the world. Then docking the screen into the keyboard base affords it even more performance by way of a discrete GPU.

Read the full review: Surface Book

best laptop

One glance at the HP Spectre, and you’d think it belongs in a mansion. What you may be surprised to discover is that not only does it boast a premium appearance, but the HP Spectre is actually more powerful than the latest MacBook and for a lower price at that. From the beautifully designed gold hinge to the optional Intel Core i7 configuration to the trio of USB-C ports, you’ll not only look like you have one of the most capable (not to mention future-proof) laptops around, but you actually will. Although it only boasts a 1080p screen , that criticism is trumped by a work of supreme industrial design.

Read the full review: HP Spectre

Best laptops

If you’ve ever wanted a MacBook Pro without selling a kidney to afford it, the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin not only delivers the style and glitz of Apple’s professional-level laptops, but it even adds a touchscreen to the mix for an approachable starting price. For a hefty 2-in-1 with a Core i7 CPU, 12GB of RAM and even a discrete Nvidia GPU, the Samsung Notebook 7 provides top of the line specs considering its value. But why stop there?

Samsung even went as far as to include an HDR display despite offering only a 1080p resolution. Though not many services actually support the technology (yet), some argue that it’s more essential than a higher resolution anyway. Deeper blacks, more vibrant color – the works.

Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 7 Spin

Best laptops

HP has nailed its 2016 revision to the Spectre x360, and thanks in part to Kaby Lake, it brings an assortment of new goodies to the table that were previously absent. The battery life, for instance, now exceeds the 8-hour mark, while multi-core processing and low to mid-level graphics have seen dramatic improvements as well. Not only has the battery improved, but so too has the time required to charge the device: USB-C quick charging can see the HP Spectre x360 go from zero to 90 in just 90 minutes. That said, don’t expect more than a single standard USB port on the x360, as we’re faced with yet another effort towards USB-C, this time with a 2-to-1 ratio techies will love despite the inconvenience for most other folks.

Read the full review: HP Spectre x360

best laptops

Apple has updated its most attractive laptop yet with an Intel Skylake Core M processor. Still clocking in at 1.1GHz to start, the 2016 MacBook aims at those who don’t need power as much as portability and pizazz. The stylish, aluminum unibody design and the Retina display are all back, too. Aside from a 3.5mm headphone jack, the only connector port remains USB-C, though the reversible interface has gained traction since last year’s debut. If you’re willing to lug cable adapters and take a performance hit in the name of stellar design, the brand new, appetizing Rose Gold finish might be just for you.

Read the full review: MacBook

Best laptops

The Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 had a winning design and underwhelming performance, but the Yoga 900 is the full package. By integrating more powerful Intel Core i-series processors and a larger battery, Lenovo’s latest flagship convertible can stand toe-to-toe with most Ultrabooks and even Microsoft’s latest Surface Book. All this extra power has only made the Yoga 900 slightly thicker and heavier, however it still largely retains a very thin and flexible frame for folding back into tablet mode. For those looking for the thinnest and lightest convertible machine, Lenovo has made an even more compact Yoga 900S.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 900

Best laptops

With a 14-inch screen, this HP Chromebook isn’t the smallest or lightest Chrome OS device out there. However, it strikes a good balance between ample screen space and portability. A top-notch keyboard and trackpad, coupled with a great screen, makes the Chromebook 14 a joy to write and browse the web on for very little money at all. On the other hand, if you’re willing to shell out a bit more for an aluminum design and upgraded performance, the smaller HP Chromebook 13 might be more your style.

Read the full review: HP Chromebook 14

Best laptops

For media production, the 15-inch MacBook Pro has been the go-to for many years now. Slight design changes have annually accompanied CPU upgrades, making every new MacBook Pro that comes out a subtle rewrite of its predecessor. This year, however, Apple has made changes – for better or worse – that will dramatically change how the MacBook Pro is used altogether. To Apple outsiders, the decision to omit all the standard USB ports and SD slots in favor of four USB-C connections is baffling. For the fans, however, it’s a strategic means of future-proofing. Regardless of how you feel about the concessions, the MacBook Pro’s most alluring invention is the Touch Bar, which replaces the function keys and, in turn, introduces a layer of functionality only possible with the latest MacBook Pro.

Read the full review: Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, Late 2016)

Best laptops

While the Surface Pro 4 has established itself as one of the very best Windows 10 tablets on the market, the HP Spectre x2 is another standout device that comes at a very attractive price. This Intel Core M-powered 12-inch tablet is a smidge thinner while, of course, exerting an extensive battery life. Aesthetically, the Spectre x2 feels like an even more premium device with a solid metal body and stylish bar-shaped kickstand. It also comes jam-packed with cutting-edge tech including a quadruple speakers and a total of three cameras – that said, if you’re looking for the best stylus experience, the Surface Pro 4 still takes the cake.

Read the full review: HP Spectre x2

Best laptops

Historically, Lenovo has made itself known for its premium class of business-grade laptops. That continues to be the case with the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, the high-performing 2-in-1 complete with a 2,560 x 1,440 (OLED optional) display that’s admittedly difficult to look away from. Though the absence of USB-C is questionable, as is the inclusion of Windows 10 Home in favor of Pro, its 14-inch screen is uncommon enough to keep professionals enticed. Unfortunately, the battery life, a mere 3 hours and 29 minutes according to our PCMark 8 test, is the most concerning factor here. If you’ve got a power outlet nearby though that concern is easily mollified.

Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article

Powered by WPeMatico

By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

Microsoft has revealed the PC specifications which will be required for its affordable range of Windows 10 VR headsets (or mixed reality head-mounted displays, as the company prefers to call them), and the good news is a very affordable PC (or indeed notebook) will be capable of running these gadgets.

The specs (which were co-developed with Intel) for the headsets call for a minimum of an Intel Core i5 mobile processor (dual-core with hyperthreading, and at least Skylake or better) backed with only integrated graphics – Intel HD Graphics 620 (GT2) or the equivalent, or better (DX12-capable).

You’ll need 8GB of system RAM and 100GB SSD (although a hard drive is fine, an SSD is labelled as preferred). And connectivity-wise, you’re looking at the following:

  • HDMI: HDMI 1.4 with 2880 x 1440 @ 60Hz; or HDMI 2.0; or DisplayPort 1.3 with 2880 x 1440 @ 90Hz
  • USB: USB 3.0 Type-A or USB 3.1 Type-C port with DisplayPort Alternate Mode
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0 for accessories

Stark contrast

Overall, then, you couldn’t get a much more stark contrast to the demands of the likes of the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift. That said, this is a bare minimum spec, and it’s just for running Windows VR stuff, not potentially much more demanding games (which of course vary widely in terms of their requirements).

This VR hardware – with headsets coming from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo in 2017 – is very much designed with accessibility in mind, which the requirements reflect, as does the pricing which was first revealed back in October. If virtual reality needs a shove to help it reach the mainstream, Microsoft could well be providing a helping hand here.

Over at WinHEC in Shenzhen, Microsoft also introduced Project Evo, which represents a partnership with Intel to push forward in not just mixed reality with the above headsets, but also to make strides with gaming, advanced security, AI and Cortana.

In other words, the project expects to usher in a broad range of innovations which will encompass elements such as game broadcasting and eSports, better defences against hacking, advances in biometrics with Windows Hello, and ‘far-field’ voice capabilities – meaning you’ll be able to use Cortana from right across a room.

Via: Neowin

Powered by WPeMatico

By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

UPDATE: Masky is one the coolest (and weirdest) free iPad games we’ve played in quite some time – read the next slide to find out more!

The Apple iPad is a versatile device. It’s perfect for everything from watching your favourite TV show to filling out spreadsheets on the go.

But really, where the iPad shines is as a gaming platform. The big screen, the responsive touch controls… it’s no wonder that devices like the Playstation Vita are struggling.

That said, iPads can get expensive, and if you’ve just spent a huge chunk of change on a 128GB tablet, you might not have a lot left over to pick up the games you want.

Fortunately, there are plenty of fantastic free iPad games available on the App Store. What’s more, we’ve compile our pick of the best free iPad games for your convenience right here.

We have absolutely no idea what’s going on in Masky. What we do know is that this is a deeply weird but thoroughly compelling game.

According to the game’s blurb, Masky’s all about some kind of grand costume ball, with you dancing to mystic sounds and inviting other masked dancers to join you. What this means in practice is shuffling left and right, adding other dancers to your merry band, and ensuring the balance meter never goes beyond red. If it does, everyone falls over – masks everywhere.

Beyond the lovely graphics and audio, there’s a smart – if simple – game here. Some masks from newcomers added to your line shake things up, flipping the screen or temporarily removing the balance meter.

Inevitably, everything also speeds up as you play, making keeping balance increasingly tough. We don’t doubt the unique visuals count for a lot regarding Masky’s pull, but the strange premise and compelling gameplay keep you dancing for the long haul.

From the off, it’s obvious Ollie Cats isn’t taking itself seriously. The aim is to ‘ollie’ (jump) an endless number of cats heading in your rad skateboarder’s direction. You can perform all manner of tricks (including grinding along fences when loads of cats suddenly appear), but the game in miserly fashion only bestows a single point per cat cleared, regardless of your amazing skills.

However, you can also be the cat. That’s right – it’s possible to play the game as a black moggie on a board, aiming to become the coolest feline around. There are fewer stunts in this mode, but it’s so ridiculous that the cat version of the game fast became our favorite.

An excellent example in how iteration can improve a game, The Little Fox was almost impossible upon release. But a reduction in speed and some restart points proved transformative, enabling you to immerse yourself in a sweet-natured, great-looking pathfinding arcade outing.

The titular fox is on a quest that takes the bounding carnivore through 13 varied lands. Pathways comprise hexagons littered with collectables and hazards, and at any moment you can only turn left or right or continue straight on.

At the original breakneck pace (still available as an in-game option), this all feels too much. But when slowed down, The Little Fox reveals itself to be a clever, imaginative, fun title, with surprises to be found on every planet the furry critter visits.

It’s not every day you get to become a robot superhero, protecting the public in the retro-futuristic Helsinki. But future Finns should be thrilled Byteman is about, because their capital city appears to be chock full of burning buildings, robbers, and villains escaping in helicopters.

Your task is to fly about, using your radar to swoop in and be all heroic, without slamming into a building while doing so. The controls are straightforward (move with your left thumb and ‘speed boost’ with your right), and there’s a handy radar to figure out which cases to prioritise.

It all comes across a bit like a robot superhero Crazy Taxi, albeit one where the valiant android must occasionally head above the clouds to recharge its solar panels. (We bet Captain Marvel never had that problem.)

The Trials family of games on console were breathtaking in the simplicity and addictiveness. The physics racer requires a subtle mastery of speed and body weight in order to tackle incredible tracks in a range of environments.

Trials Frontier brings the series to mobile platforms, with a Wild West setting and a kind of sort of narrative that sees you exploring the frontier to get better bikes and more tracks. The game does have a pretty intense IAP section, but you can definitely succeed in this game without spending a cent.

At some point, developers will run out of new ways to present endless runners, but that moment hasn’t yet arrived. Surfingers tries something a bit different, marrying the genre with a kind of stripped-back breakneck match puzzler. You must line up the blocky wave you’re currently on to match whatever’s coming next, lest your surfer abruptly wipe-out.

At first, this is leisurely and simple, with you swiping up and down, avoiding maniacs in low-flying hot-air balloons, and collecting stars. But before long, you’re two-finger swiping to get past massive rocks and buried spaceships, surfing across snowy mountains and sand dunes, and thinking a dip in the shallows might have been a smarter move. And it turns out even being an ice-cool crocodile riding a rubber duck won’t save you if those shapes don’t line up.

Touchscreens have opened up many new ways to play games, but scribbling with a finger is perhaps the most natural. And that’s essentially all you do in Magic Touch, which sounds pretty reductive – right up until you start playing.

The premise is that you’re a wizard, fending off invading nasties who all oddly use balloons to parachute towards their prize. Match the symbol on any balloon and it pops, potentially causing a hapless intruder to meet the ground rather more rapidly than intended. Initially, this is all very simple, but when dozens of balloons fill your field of vision, you’ll be scrawling like crazy, desperately fending off the invasion to keep the wizard gainfully employed.

The first thing that strikes you about Into the Dim is that it transforms your iPad into a giant Game Boy – at least from a visual standpoint. Its chunky yellowed graphics hark back to handheld gaming’s past; but to some extent, this is also true of Into the Dim’s mechanics.

It’s a turn-based RPG, featuring a boy and his dog exploring dungeons, outwitting enemies, and uncovering a mystery. But whereas most modern mobile fare offers procedurally generated levels, Into the Dim’s dungeons have all been carefully individually designed. It rewards planning, strategic thinking, and patience; and although the game’s finite nature means it can be beaten, doing so will make you feel like a boss, rather than a player being put through the ‘random mill’ time and time again.

Taking the most famous video game character of all and shoving him into an endless freemium title could have ended disastrously. Fortunately, Pac-Man 256 is by the people behind Crossy Road – and it’s just as compelling.

In Pac-Man 256, our rotund hero finds himself beyond the infamous level 256 glitch, which has become an all-consuming swarm of broken code that must be outrun. Pac-Man must therefore speed through the endless maze, munching dots, avoiding ghosts, and making use of power-ups dotted about the place. And there aren’t just power pellets this time round – Pac-Man can fry ghosts with lasers, or implement stealth technology to move through his spectral foes as if they weren’t even there.

Routing cabling in the real world is a source of fury, and so it might not be the smartest procedure to make into a game played on a device with a glass screen. But Aux B turns out to be a lot of fun, routing INs and OUTs, striving to make music blare forth. There are 80 levels, although towards the end, you wonder whether someone should have a quiet word with the gig organiser and suggest a set-up that’s a wee bit simpler.

Very occasionally, free games appear that are so generous you wonder what the catch is. Cally’s Caves 3is rather Metroid, except the hero of the hour is a little girl who has pigtails, stupid parents who keep getting kidnapped, and a surprisingly large arsenal of deadly weapons. She leaps about, blasting enemies, and conquering bosses. Weapons are levelled up simply by shooting things with them, and the eight zones take some serious beating — although not as much as the legions of grunts you’re shooting at.

It’s always the way — you’re looking for work, armed with your useless degree, and all that’s available is a job in a sweltering chocolate factory, under the watchful eye of an angry penguin overseer. At least that’s the story in Coolson’s Artisanal Chocolate Alphabet, which hangs an absurdly addictive word game on this premise. Sort chocolate letters from a conveyor belt into boxes with slots, creating words while doing so; make your boss slightly less angry by spelling out seafood whenever possible; and don’t let too much chocolate fall into the trash!

The notion of a freemium on-rails Crazy Taxi must seem like sacrilege to Dreamcast fans, not least when considering the iOS port of the original has vanished. But Crazy Taxi City Rush manages to capture some of the original’s spirit and madness. You belt along city streets, picking up fares and dropping them off within tight time limits, all while cheesy rock music is hammered into your ears. There’s more than a whiff of freemium, but if you’re prepared to grind a bit and spend wisely on upgrades, you won’t have to dig into your real-world wallet.

In a world of exploitative freemium gaming, Crossy Road shows an entire industry how things could be done. The basic gameplay is endless Frogger — avoid traffic, navigate rivers by way of floating logs, and try to not get splattered across the front of a speeding train. But the genius is in triggering people’s collector mentality. During the game, you pick up coins, which can be pumped into a one-armed bandit that dispenses new characters. These often dramatically change how the game looks and plays. You’ll want to collect them all. You can of course buy them outright, but Crossy Road is generous in flinging coins your way. Nice.

Time travel weirdness meets the morning rush hour in Does Not Commute. You get a short story about a character, and guide their car to the right road. Easy! Only the next character’s car must be dealt with while avoiding the previous one. And the next. Before long, you’re a dozen cars in and weaving about like a lunatic, desperately trying to avoid a pile-up. For free, you get the entire game, but with the snag that you must always start from scratch, rather than being able to use checkpoints that appear after each zone. (You can unlock these for a one-off payment of $4.49.)

For a game that started as a joke, Flappy Golf has a lot going for it. A combination of Flappy Bird and Super Stickman Golf 2, it merges the controls of the former (although you can flap right and left) with the courses of the latter, challenging you to reach the hole using the fewest flaps. It’s ridiculous, enjoyable, and a great means of experiencing the courses in a new way. There’s also madcap online multiplayer, which has you speed-run to each hole.

With its numbered sliding squares and soaring scores, there’s more than a hint of Threes! about Imago. In truth, Threes! remains the better game, on the basis that it’s more focussed, but Imago has plenty going for it. The idea is to merge pieces of the same size and colour, which when they get too big explode into smaller pieces that can be reused. With smart thinking, you can amass colossal scores, even if Imago is a touch too reliant on luck.

Pool for massive show-offs, with the table’s pockets removed, Magnetic Billiards is all about smacking balls about in a strategic manner. Those that are the same colour stick together; the aim is to connect them all, preferably into a bonus shape, whereupon they vanish. Balls of different colours must not collide, but can ‘buzz’ each other for bonus points; further points come from cushion bounces. For free, you get the ‘classic’ level set, with 20 tables. If you want more, a $2.99 ‘skeleton key’ IAP unlocks everything else in the game.

With iPads lacking tactile controls, they should be rubbish for platform games. But savvy developers have stripped back the genre, creating hybrid one-thumb auto-runner/platformers. These are entirely reliant on careful timing, the key element of more traditional fare. Mr. Crab further complicates matters by wrapping its levels around a pole. The titular crustacean ambles back and forth, scooping up baby crabs, and avoiding the many enemies lurking about the place. You get 14 levels for free, and further packs are available via IAP.

When it was first released, Neon Drive had a kind of intoxicating vibe, but a difficulty level that made you want to punch a wall. An infusion of the 1980s into your eyes and ears, the game features a car driving along a neon track, avoiding obstacles, all to a synth-pop soundtrack. Even getting to the end of the first course was murder. Someone must have told the dev, because Neon Drive quietly got checkpoints, along with new tracks to try. It’s still not exactly easy, but you now have a fighting chance.

When the Crossy Road devs got their hands on gaming’s most famous character, Pac-Man 256 was the result. It’s endless Pac-Man, with the glitch from the infamous 256th level on an endless mission to consume. You must keep ahead of its flickering maw, simultaneously eating dots and avoiding ghosts roaming about the place. This is a great reimagining of a classic, and rewards repeat play with collectable power-ups — if the ghosts in Pac-Man 256 get a bit smug, you can take their face off with a laser or tiny tornado.

Having played Planet Quest, we imagine whoever was on naming duties didn’t speak to the programmer. If they had, the game would be called Awesome Madcap Beam-Up One-Thumb Rhythm Action Insanity — or possibly something a bit shorter. Anyway, you’re in a spaceship, prodding the screen to repeat beats you’ve just heard. Doing so beams up dancers on the planet’s surface; get your timing a bit wrong and you merely beam-up their outfits; miss by a lot and you lose a life. To say this one’s offbeat would be a terrible pun, but entirely accurate; it’d also be true to say this is the most fun rhythm action game on iPad — and it doesn’t cost a penny.

The poor polar bear in Roller Polar is atop a massive snowball rolling down the mountain, and he can’t stop. Actually, that’s not entirely true: he can stop when something painfully wallops him off of said snowball. Your aim is to stave off the inevitable for as long as possible, by helping the bear leap into the air to avoid rocks, trees, moose, and anything else the giant ball of snow scoops up along the way.

A blocky take on classic vertically scrolling shoot ’em ups, Shooty Skies has flying-ace animals in biplanes battling endless squadrons of internet memes, flying robots, and deranged bosses. The controls are simple, but infuse the entire game with a sense of risk-versus-reward: drag to shoot, but stay still (and therefore instantly become extremely vulnerable) to charge a mega weapon. Fortunately, you can also grab gift boxes to gain a temporary wingman, which is essential when battling giant bosses like an ink-spewing headphone-wearing octopus, or an American Eagle that spits out nuclear missiles and ‘patriotism’ like they’re going out of fashion.

The sausage dog in Silly Sausage in Meatland appears to have fallen into the same radioactive sludge as a bunch of Marvel superheroes. He can stretch, seemingly forever, and stick to walks. This stands him in good stead for navigating horizontally scrolling landscapes full of spiky doom. Come a cropper and you go back to the start, unless you unlock restart points by using gems collected along the way. The game will also let you watch an ad, if you’re running low on bling, which seems fair enough. (We’ve seen people grumbling you’re later ‘forced’ to watch ads, because there aren’t enough gems. That misses the point: Silly Sausage is about risk versus reward — not unlocking every restart point — and occasionally a dog sniffing its own behind.)

We imagine the creators of Smash Hit really hate glass. Look at it, sitting there with its stupid, smug transparency, letting people see what’s on the other side of it. Bah! Smash it all! Preferably with ball-bearings while flying along corridors! And that’s Smash Hit — fly along, flinging ball-bearings, don’t hit any glass face-on, and survive for as long as possible. There are 50 rooms in all, but cheapskates start from scratch each time; pay $2.99 for the premium unlock and you get checkpoints, stats, iCloud sync, and alternative game modes.

The iPad has plenty of fast, playable racing games, but it took an awfully long time for a decent kart racer to appear on the platform. That was Sega’s Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, and follow-up Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed is even better. You race across land, sea and air, tracks dynamically shifting after each lap. It looks great, handles almost perfectly, and gives you loads to do. IAP does stink up the place a bit, notably if you want to quickly buy characters or burn through the game, but otherwise this is the best free racer this side of Asphalt 8.

One of the most innovative multiplayer titles we’ve ever played, Spaceteam has you and a bunch of friends in a room, each staring at a rickety and oddball spaceship control panel on your device’s display. Instructions appear, which need a fast response if your ship is to avoid being swallowed up by an exploding star. But what you see might not relate to your screen and controls. Spaceteam therefore rapidly descends into a cacophony of barked demands and frantic searches across control panels (which helpfully start falling to bits), in a last-ditch attempt to ‘set the Copernicus Crane to 6’ or ‘activate the Twinmill’ and avoid fiery death.

Another one-thumb high-score chaser, Splish Splash Pong is worth a look because it’s more devious than it initially appears. You bounce between two gates, collecting square coins. This would be easy if the water between them wasn’t infested with killer whales. All you can do to avoid pointy teeth of doom is prod the screen to change direction. Naturally, the game’s pace means you’ll just as often instead tap the screen, and emit a yelp as you watch your little duck head in precisely the wrong direction and become a tasty snack — just like dozens before it.

Golf is dull — it’s pretty much people hitting a ball with a stick. But imagine if golf was played in massive castles. Or on the moon. Or inside a giant ice palace. And everyone wore strange hats that gave them magical powers. Well, wonder no more, because that’s Super Stickman Golf 2 in a nutshell, and it’s a blast whether you’re playing solo, against a friend in asynchronous two-player battles, or thwacking at breakneck pace in the online race mode.

The best puzzle game on mobile, Threes! has you slide cards about a grid, merging pairs to create ever higher numbers. The catch is all cards slide as one, unless they cannot move; additionally, each turn leads to a new card in a random empty slot on the edge you swiped away from. It’s all about careful management of a tiny space.

On launch, Threes! was mercilessly cloned, with dozens of alternatives flooding iTunes, but 2048 and its ilk lack the charm and fine details that made Threes! so great in the first place. And now there’s Threes! Free, where you watch ads to top up a ‘free goes’ bin, there’s no excuse for going with inferior pretenders.

“Expect retro graphics and megatons of enemies,” says the developer about this twin-stick shooter, adding: “Don’t expect a story”. With its vector graphics and Robotronish air, PewPew brings to mind Geometry Wars and Infinity Field, but without a price tag. Despite being free, PewPew nonetheless boasts five modes of shooty goodness.

It turns out if you’re a sheep that thinks the grass is greener, you should check out the other side of the fence first. In Flockwork, wooly heroes make a break for freedom, but end up immersed in a kind of ruminant hell. Your task: help the sheep escape by way of finger gymnastics and fast reactions.

At some point, a total buffoon decreed that racing games should be dull and grey, on grey tracks, with grey controls. Gameloft’s Asphalt series dispenses with such foolish notions, along with quite a bit of reality. Here, in Asphalt 8, you zoom along at ludicrous speeds, drifting for miles through exciting city courses, occasionally being hurled into the air to perform stunts that absolutely aren’t acceptable according to the car manufacturer’s warrantee.

Air hockey games work much better on the iPad than the iPhone, simply due to the iPad’s larger screen.Air Hockey Gold isn’t the only free game of this type, but it was the one that felt best during testing, and the two-player mode works nicely.

Endless game Jetpack Joyride is a witty, polished take on the iCopter format, with one-thumb controls dictating the hero’s attempts to avoid death that comes increasingly rapidly from the side of the screen. The real gems here are the power-ups, including the amusing Profit Bird (depicted), which isn’t at all a swipe at Angry Birds and Tiny Wings.

This is more like Plants vs. Zombies 2 vs. freemium grinding. But if you can look past the forced repetition of stages and irksome IAP, there’s a lot to like in EA’s horticulture/zombie defence sequel, including loads of new stages, a bunch of new plants, plenty of unique features, and a smattering of time travel.

Myriad physics puzzlers exist for iOS, but most are twitch-oriented games where you fling objects around, and repeat with slight variation until you succeed. TinkerBox is different, because it demands you carefully consider the task at hand and then construct machines and tools using engineering concepts. It’s great for educating kids and also perfect for anyone who used to love the likes of Meccano.

QatQi starts off a bit like Scrabble in the dark, until you figure out that you’re really immersed in a kind of Roguelike mash-up. So although the aim is to make crosswords from a selection of letters, you’re also tasked with exploring dungeons to find score-boosting stars and special tiles.

This game might look like Flight Control in the drink, but the gameplay mechanics are subtly different. As with Firemint’s effort, Harbor Master is a line-drawing game, this time with you drawing paths so boats can dock. However, once they’ve unloaded, they must leave the screen or sometimes visit another dock, ensuring things rapidly become complex and frantic.

Tiny people in a tiny skyscraper need you to feed then tiny sushi and do other tiny tasks. Things can, inevitably, be sped up by not-so-tiny IAP cash infusions, but if you’re a patient sort, and keen on micromanagement games, Tiny Tower is a charming, enjoyable title that will eat many tiny moments out of your day.

This turn-based strategy game comes complete with an engaging story and a healthy dollop of yo-ho-ho. You command pirate ships, setting their courses and then watching the action unfold. Crimson: Steam Pirates gives you eight free voyages and further adventures can be bought via IAP.

With almost limitless possibilities in videogames, it’s amazing how many are drab grey and brown affairs.Frisbee Forever is therefore a breath of fresh air with its almost eye-searing vibrance. The sense of fun continues through to the gameplay, which is all about steering a frisbee to collect stars strewn along winding paths. Initially, you explore a fairground, but soon you’re soaring above the wild west and sandy bays.

Many free iPhone OS MMOs are dreary text-based affairs, so it’s nice to see Spacetime Studios creating something a bit more ambitious with Pocket Legends, providing us with an iOS-specific 3D world populated by the usual motley collection of fantasy characters. As always with MMOs, the game demands you invest plenty of time to get anything out of it.

The basic aim of Tilt to Live is simple: avoid the red dots, either by cunning dodging and weaving or by triggering explosive devices in the arena. The game stands apart from similar releases due to its polish and sense of humour. You get the basic mode for free, and others can be unlocked by in-app purchase.

It’s a case of timey-wimey-puzzley-wuzzley as Doctor Who: Legacy aims to show you that your iPad is bigger on the inside, able to house intergalactic warfare. The game itself is a gem-swapper not a million miles away from Puzzle Quest, but all the Doctor Who trappings will make it a must for fans of the show – or Daleks fine-tuning their tactics regarding how to finally beat their nemesis, mostly via the use of strategically placed coloured orbs.

We’re big fans of 10 Pin Shuffle, a universal app that combines ten-pin bowling and shuffleboard. Of that title’s three game modes, the best one is included here in 10 Pin Shuffle Lite, for free. Called 10 Pin Poker, it adds a card game to the mix. Get a spare or strike and you’re given one or two cards, respectively. At the end of the tenth frame, whoever has the best hand wins.

Fans of the ancient Pitfall series on the Atari might feel a bit short-changed, given that this comeback in the shape of a Temple Run clone diverges wildly from the platforming action of the originals. However, it’s one of the best-looking endless runners on iOS, and if you persevere there are exciting mine-cart and motorbike sections to master.

There’s a touch of Angry Birds about To-Fu 2, at least if the birds were covered in something yucky that glued them to any walls they collided with. Said stickiness is the name of the game here, getting the squidgy hero to level’s end rather than impaling him on the literally strewn spikes.

It’s not the most interesting-looking game in the world, but luckily the magic of Choice of the Dragon is in its witty prose. Playing as a multiple-choice text adventure, akin to an extremely stripped-back RPG, this game is an amusing romp that perhaps lacks replay value, but you’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

When we think of extreme sports, jogging isn’t the first that comes to mind, although it might be now we’ve experienced Grim Joggers Freestyle. The game’s essentially Canabalt, but instead of one guy leaping across grey rooftops, you get a string of joggers trying desperately to survive in a surreal alien world.

With Tiny Wings having spent a large amount of time troubling the App Store charts, we’re surprised it took so long to make it to the iPad. All along, Pilot Winds was the next best thing, and it’s free. Instead of a fat bird sliding down hills, you’re a daredevil penguin skier, and while the game’s inspiration is clear, it has plenty of tricks of its own.

Drop7 is one of the finest puzzle games on iOS. You drop numbered discs into a grid, and if the number matches the number of discs in its column or row, it vanishes. Grey discs are destroyed by twice removing discs next to them. Three modes are on offer, each demanding a different strategy. And now the game’s owned by Zynga, it’s free, with only the occasional unobtrusive advert.

Although it works on an iPhone, Frotz isn’t great on the smaller screen. But on the iPad, with its larger keyboard, the interactive fiction player is a revelation. It uses the Z-Machine format, and you can download a selection of freely available text adventures (including the original Zork) using the app, or upload your own files to the app via FTP.

Trainyard Express is a puzzle game which tasks you with getting trains to stations by laying track. It starts simple, but the logic puzzles soon test you, with colour theory and other complications. In all, you get 60 puzzles, and there’s no overlap with the app’s commercial sibling Trainyard.

As the saying goes, there are few American sports that can’t be improved by the impending threat of a banana, and that’s X-Baseball. Hit balls! Hit bananas thrown by fans! Also, hit annoying birds flying overhead! Just don’t ‘not hit’, otherwise your game will soon be over. It’s just like the real thing!

The original Paper Toss was pretty dry and throwaway, but in dumping the wastebasket in absurd surroundings (within a volcanic pool, in the desert, by the Taj Mahal), it gets a second wind as Paper Toss: World Tour HD and is a far more satisfying flick-based arcade game.

NinJump is a quickfire one-thumb game which has your ninja rapidly climbing, leaping between two endless towers. As he leaps, he knocks obstacles from the air, dispatching killer squirrels, deadly birds and throwing stars lobbed by enemy ninjas. Simple, addictive fun.

The love-child of Pong and a drug-fuelled hallucination, BIT.TRIP Beat Blitz has you deflecting hundreds of balls, in time to crunchy industrial-style dance beats. This is dazzling and pure but demanding arcade gaming, with long, tough levels. Miss too many beats and you’re plunged into Nether, a soulless black-and-white realm where you must chain multiple beats to escape from.

In Triple Town, you have to think many moves ahead to succeed. It’s a match game where trios of things combine to make other things, thereby giving you more space on the board to evolve your town. At times surreal, Triple Town is also brain-bending and thoroughly addictive. Free moves slowly replenish, but you can also unlock unlimited moves via IAP.

If you’re a fan of spanging a metal ball about, Gameprom’s iPad pinball tables are as good as they come.Pinball HD Collection is the freemium incarnation of the company’s output, and you get the simple but playable Wild West entirely for free. Yee-haw!

There are many endless running games for the iPad, but in Temple Run you’re being chased by deadly evil demon monkeys! It’s your own fault really, what with nicking that priceless trinket from a temple. The tilty swipey gameplay’s perhaps a tad tiring after a while of holding up an iPad, but Temple Run is great in short bursts on the larger screen.

The clue’s in the title — there’s a quest, and it involves quite a lot of punching. There’s hidden depth, though — the game might look like a screen-masher, but Punch Quest is all about mastering combos, perfecting your timing, and making good use of special abilities. The in-game currency’s also very generous, so if you like the game reward the dev by grabbing some IAP.

Bejeweled Blitz is the online incarnation of PopCap’s hugely popular gem-swap game, and it looks fab on the iPad’s screen. As a freemium title, there’s a whiff of IAP (either grind or buy coins to unlock power-ups, or you’ve no chance of topping the high-score tables), but you’ll still be addicted all the same.

“Use the magnet to attract the razor to shave the face!” explains Magnetic Shaving Derby, presumably having first hidden any safety instructions from view. The result is an experience best described as completely bonkers, with a side order of “don’t try this at home, kids, unless you enjoy the site of blood”.

Fairway Solitaire HD is a perfect example of what happens when you marry simple gameplay with a bit of character. On its own, the basic card system would be fine: unlock face-down cards by selecting those one higher or lower than the current one in the draw pile. But the addition of golf scoring and a crazed gopher out for blood turns this into a surprisingly enjoyable and original title. You get nine courses for free.

X-Motorcycle happily offers two video game cliches for the price of none: the speeding hero (this time on a motorbike), who cannot slow down, and inexplicably giant fruit that appears to be an immensely important currency. The result is a fast, playable game reminiscent of old-school thrills filtered down to their essence and squirted into your iPad.

One thumb per person and one glowing neon ship is the premise behind Orbit1. You grab points, aim to destroy your opponents, and just hope someone doesn’t flip out, grab the iPad and fling it out of the window in a huff.

More pinball! This one’s a bit less realistic than Gameprom’s efforts, but Zen Pinball is very pretty, with a bright and exciting free table, Sorcerer’s Lair. Further tables are available via IAP, including some Marvel-themed and surprisingly great Star Wars efforts, but the sole freebie should have pinball addicts happily sated for a while.

With a game called Word Solitaire, you might expect a kind of solitaire game that has you form words rather than use standard cards. And that’s exactly what you get here – sorry, anyone waiting for a huge surprise. However, this is not a bad thing, because Word Solitaire HD is a relaxing, entertaining title.

In Royal Revolt the king is dead and his siblings have stolen his kingdom while the prince was at school. Unfortunately for them, he was studying magic and is now out for revenge. The game itself is a real-time-strategy effort with some seriously cute and well-animated graphics.

Who knew you could have such fun with a five-by-five grid of letters? In Letterpress, you play friends via Game Center, making words to colour lettered squares. Surround any and they’re out of reach from your friend’s tally. Cue: word-tug-o’-war, last-minute reversals of fortune, and arguments about whether ‘qat’ is a real word or not. (It is.)

This one had a dubious start, initially named Smuggle Truck and featuring immigrants being smuggled across the US border. One swift rejection by Apple later and the game swapped immigrants for cuddly toys, which is significantly funnier anyway. The trials-oriented gameplay isn’t bad either.

There’s a point in chess where you sometimes wish your knight would just give your opponent’s bishop a thoroughly good trampling. Sadly, few chess games do such things (the ancient Battlechess being an exception), but Hero Academy takes the idea and runs with it. On specially designed boards, wizards attack knights, and demons defend their turf against samurais. It’s an engaging turn-based effort with plenty of depth.

Another chessish two-player effort, Outwitters has teams of angry sea creatures battling to the death, first helpfully arming them with surprisingly dangerous weapons. (It turns out crabs eschew claws when they’ve a mortar cannon to hand.) Unlike Hero Academy, Outwitters has a ‘fog of war’, meaning units cannot see any further than they can move. This makes the game tougher to master but perhaps more rewarding on doing so.

Proving that great ideas never die, Shadow Era brings trading cards to life on the iPad. What you lose in not being able to smell the ink and manually shuffle the deck, you gain in not being able to lose the cards or have them eaten by the dog. It’s all very swords-and-fantasy oriented, and just like in real life you can also buy extra cards if you feel the need.

A game about blending colours, which doesn’t feature an Old English Sheepdog barely avoiding tipping paint everywhere? Missed opportunity! Still, what you’re left with in Blendoku is a beautifully minimal game that tasks you with putting coloured squares in order. It starts off simple, but the level design will soon have you sobbing into your crayons.

You know, if infinite zombies were running towards us, we’d leg it in the opposite direction. Not so in Into the Dead, where you battle on until your inevitable and bloody demise. The game’s oddly dream-like (well, nightmare-like), and perseverance rewards you with new weapons, such as a noisy chainsaw. VVRRRMMM! (Splutch!)

Score! takes the basic premise of a million path-drawing games and wraps it around classic footie goals. The combination works really well, with you attempting to recreate the ball’s path in the best goals the world’s ever seen. Failure results in a baying crowd and, frequently, improbable goalkeeping heroics.

“You are standing in an open field west of a white house.” If you’re of a certain age, you’re already downloading Lost Treasures of Infocom, which gives you classic text adventure Zork entirely for free. IAP enables you to buy further titles by Infocom, the masters of interactive fiction, and they all work wonderfully on the iPad.

The original Monsters Ate My Condo was like Jenga and a match-three game shoved into a blender with a massive dollop of crazy. Super Monsters Ate My Condo is a semi-sequel which takes a time-attack approach, shoe-horning the bizarre tower-building/floor-matching/monster-feeding into a tiny amount of time, breaking your brain in the process.

Tactical war-games tend to work well on a touchscreen device, and RAD Soldiers is no exception. The turn-based action has you take on chums or the single-player mode, and the cartoon styling gives a palatable face to leaving an enemy soldier as a pair of smoking boots. Just watch out for the IAP.

Argh! That’s pretty much what you’ll be yelling on a regular basis on playing this endless racer. Cubed Rally Redline shouldn’t be difficult. You can go left or right on five clearly defined lanes, and there’s a ‘time brake’ for going all slow-motion, Matrix-style, to weave through tricky gaps; but you’ll still be smashing into cows, dinosaurs and bridges before you know it.

In the distant past (well, the 1980s), there was an excellent console called the Vectrex, which had a vector-based iPad-sized screen. In the Vectrex app, it’s been beautifully recreated on the iPad. The Asteroids-Like Minestorm is entirely free, but further games are available to buy via IAP.

Flow‘s quite sneaky. It looks simple enough, tasking you with connecting like-coloured blobs via pathways that cannot cross. And indeed it is at first, despite you also having to fill the entire board to proceed. But once you’re on larger grids, trying to figure out snaking pathways, your ears will be shooting steam.

Color Zen appears to be noodly central – a game where you match coloured shapes while pleasant sounds massage your ears. But there’s a devious puzzler lurking underneath, with later levels being tricky to solve. There’s no timer, though, and so it’s the kind of game you can put down and return to at any point, rather than wanting to hurl your iPad out of the window in frustration.

Nyeeeeooowww! Daggadaggadaggadagga! It’s biplane o’ clock in Sid Meier’s Ace Patrol – a Civ-like take on World War I dogfighting. You and the bally enemy take it in turns to climb, dive, roll and shoot, as you aim to turn the tide of the war and ensure it’ll all be over by Christmas. The game is also one of the few we’ve seen that understands the concept of micro-transactions, for example enabling you to spring POWs for $1.49 a pop.

You’d think that a falling block game with only a handful of colours and set on a rotating disc wouldn’t be that tough, and you’d be right — for about a minute. But Rotational soon ramps up the brain-busting, flinging multiple arcs at your spinnable walls, forcing lightning-quick reactions and thinking or — in our case – a lightning-quick end-of-game.

The Tiny Tower devs take to the air in game form, with Pocket Planes. In this management sim, you take command of a fleet of planes, aiming to not entirely annoy people as you ferry them around the world. Like Tiny Tower, this one’s a touch grindy, but it’s a similarly amusing time-waster.

At first, Letris 3 looks like yet another bog-standard word game, albeit one that’s rather visually swish, but it regularly tries new things. The game’s based around creating words from falling tiles, but it keeps things fresh by adding hazards, such as debris, ice and various creatures lurking in the letter pile. If you’re feeling particularly brainy, you can even play in two languages at once.

Dots looks and feels like the sort of thing Jony Ive might play on his downtime (well, ignoring the festive theme, which is probably more Scott Forstall’s style). A stark regimented set of coloured dots awaits, and like-coloured ones can be joined, whereupon they disappear, enabling more to fall into the square well. The aim: clear as many as possible – with the largest combos you can muster – in 60 seconds.

In Smash Cops, you got to be the good guy, bringing down perps, mostly by ramming them into oblivion. Now in Smash Bandits your chance to be a dangerous crim, hopping between vehicles and leaving a trail of destruction in your wake. The game also amusingly includes the A-Team van and a gadget known only as the Jibba Jabba. We love it when a plan comes together!

If you liked this, then make sure you check out our best free iPad apps roundup!

Powered by WPeMatico

By Kirk / News / 0 Comments

UPDATE: Need a beautiful app that promotes meditation and mindfulness? Flowing might be the app for you – read the next slide to find out more!

If you’ve got yourself a shiny new iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 4, you’ll want to start downloading the best iPad apps straight away. And if you already have an iPad Air or older iPad, you might want to update it with some new apps.

It’s the apps that really set iOS apart from other platforms – there are more and higher quality apps available on the App Store for the iPad than any other tablet. So which ones are worth your cash? And which are the best free apps?

Luckily for you we’ve tested thousands of the best iPad apps so that you don’t have to. So read on for our list of the best iPad apps – the definitive list of what applications you need to download for your iPad now.

If you are looking for games, then head over to Best iPad games – where we showcase the greatest games around for your iOS device. Or if you’re rocking an iPhone 6S head over to our best iPhone apps list.

Whether you need a few minutes of peace or help to fall asleep after hours of stress, Flowing offers meditative splashy reflection. Choose from six scenes, plonk headphones on and then just sit and listen to gorgeous 3D audio recordings of streams, waterfalls and rivers.

Should you feel the need, noodle about with the parallax photo – although that’s frankly the least interesting bit of the app.

There is room for screen interaction though – the slider button gives you access to a mixer, to trigger ambient soundtracks by composer David Bawiec, and add birdsong and rain; while the Flowing icon houses guided meditations by Lua Lisa.

There’s also a timer, so you can fall asleep to a gently meandering brook without it then burbling away all night. In all, even if you don’t make use of every feature, Flowing is an effective, polished relaxation aid.

Another example of a book designed for kids that adults will sneak a peek at when no-one’s watching, Namoo teaches about the wonders of plant life. Eschewing the kind of realistic photography or illustration you typically see in such virtual tomes, Namoo is wildly stylised, using an arresting low-poly art style for its interactive 3D simulations.

Each of these is married with succinct text, giving your brain something to chew on as you ping the components of a plant’s cells (which emit pleasingly playful – if obviously not terribly realistic – sounds and musical notes) or explore the life cycle of an apple.

On the desktop, Scrivener is widely acclaimed as the writer’s tool of choice. The feature-rich app provides all kinds of ways to write, even incorporating research documents directly into projects. Everything’s always within reach, and your work can constantly be rethought, reorganised, and reworked.

On iPad, Scrivener is, astonishingly, almost identical to its desktop cousin. Bar some simplification regarding view and export options, it’s essentially the same app. You get a powerful ‘binder’ sidebar for organizing notes and documents, while the main view area enables you to write and structure text, or to work with index cards on a cork board.

There’s even an internal ‘Split View’, for simultaneously smashing out a screenplay while peering at research. With Dropbox sync to access existing projects, Scrivener is a no-brainer for existing users; and for newcomers, it’s the most capable rich text/scriptwriting app on iPad.

Calling Editorial a text editor does it a disservice. That’s not to say Editorial isn’t any good as a text editor, because it very much is. You get top-notch Markdown editing, with an inline preview, and also a TaskPaper mode for plain text to-do lists.

But what really sets Editorial apart is the sheer wealth of customisation options. You get themes and custom snippets, but also workflows, which can automate hugely complex tasks. You get the sense some of these arrived from the frustrations at how slow it is to perform certain actions on an iPad; but a few hours with Editorial and you’ll wish the app was available for your Mac or PC too.

Although Apple introduced iCloud Keychain in iOS 7, designed to securely store passwords and payment information, 1Password is a more powerful system. It can also hold identities, secure notes, network information and app licence details. Your stored data can then be accessed on more than just Apple’s platforms. The core app is free, but you’ll need to pay $14.99 to get access to all its features.

The iPad has given new life to comics, providing the perfect digital home for them with its big, sharp, colourful screen and Madefire Comics makes the most of it by stocking motion comics. As the name suggests these include movement rather than just static panels and often feature music and sound effects too, bringing you into the story like never before. With big names and an ever growing library Madefire is essential for comic fans.

Even the most expensive iPads in Apple’s line-up don’t have a massive amount of storage, and space is rapidly eaten up if you keep videos on the device. Air Video HD acts as an alternative: stream movies from a PC or Mac, auto-encoding on-the-fly as necessary. There’s also full support for offline viewing, soft subtitles and AirPlay to an Apple TV.

We could all use a bit of brain training from time to time and Elevate is a great way to do it. It aims to improve your writing, reading, speaking, listening and maths skills through a variety of daily challenges, which keep your brain active and test you in entertaining ways. A beautiful interface makes it a joy to use and the core app is free, but extra features can be added with a subscription.

ABC iview brings together the national broadcaster’s best programming for on demand consumption. A pioneer in Australia’s streaming services, iview offers hundreds of hours of viewing for Aussies of all ages, as well as live streaming of the 24 hour news channel and ABC1, plus custom shows created especially for the digital platform.

Word processing is something the iPad fares remarkably well at — if you have the right app. Byword is a no-nonsense distraction-free editor that just lets you get on with writing. There’s Markdown support, helped along by a custom keyboard row, and also a live word/character count. For anyone publishing to the web, a single $7.99 IAP provides integration with the likes of WordPress and Tumblr.

Comic Life provides a creative way to tell a story or present some of your favourite photographs. The many templates provide a starting point and theme, and you can then import photos, add captions, and design special effects. Comics can be sent to friends in a variety of formats, or to your Mac or PC to carry on working in the desktop version of the app.

Journalling is one of those things that people always think will fall out of fashion, but it never quite does. Day One has plenty of advantages over a paper-based diary, though; wrapped up in a beautiful interface is the means to add images, weather data and music info, along with formatted text. Individual entries can be ‘published’ to share with people, and of course everything you create is fully searchable.

Panic’s Coda is a hugely popular Mac app for coding websites, and the iPad app is no slouch either. Coda provides a touch-optimised means of editing files, which can either be done live on the remote server or by downloading them locally first. Syntax highlighting, clips and a built-in Terminal make this a great app for any web designer on the go.

Drum machines are always a lot of fun, but many of those available for iOS are rather throwaway, their options exhausted within minutes. DM1 is pretty much the exact opposite, packed with a huge number of drum kits, a step sequencer, a song composer and a mixer. Inter-App audio, Audiobus and MIDI support also ensure what you create doesn’t end up in a percussion-rich silo.

Dropbox is a great service for syncing documents across multiple devices. The iPad client works like the iPhone one (hardly surprising, since this is a universal app), enabling you to preview many file types and store those marked as favourites locally.

If you love our sunburnt country, you’ll know that the best way to explore the wonders Australia has to offer is generally off the beaten track. Wikicamps is a user-generated database of Australia’s best camping areas, with useful information (like mobile coverage) all rated by fellow travellers. If you want to hit the great outdoors, make sure you download this app and take it with you.

Like Dropbox, Evernote (a free online service for saving ideas – text documents, images and web clips – that you can then access from multiple devices) works the same way on the iPad as it does on the iPhone. It benefits from the iPad’s larger screen, which enables you to see and navigate your stored snippets more easily, but it’s handy knowing you’ll be able to access all your notes on any other device, or any future device you might buy, like the iPhone 7.

Apple’s own Calendar app is fiddly and irritating, and so the existence of Fantastical is very welcome. In a single screen, you get a week view, a month calendar and a scrolling list of events. There’s also support for reminders, and all data syncs with iCloud, making Fantastical compatible with Calendar (formerly iCal) for OS X. The best bit, though, is Fantastical’s natural-language input, where you can type an event and watch it build as you add details, such as times and locations.

Initially, Flipboard looked like a gimmick, trying desperately to make online content resemble a magazine. But now it can integrate Flickr and other networks, beautifully laying out their articles, Flipboard’s muscled into the ‘essential’ category – and it’s still free.

Airbnb makes travel affordable and social, as rather than staying in a hotel you can stay in someone’s house. Options range from crashing on someone’s sofa to renting a private island, or if you have a spare room you could even rent your own space out. The iPad app is one of the best ways to browse it too, letting you search and book using an attractive image-heavy interface.

Apple’s GarageBand turns your iPad into a recording studio. It includes a range of smart instruments, MIDI editing and song arrangement so you can make music anywhere. It’s not free any more, but you get access to all of its instruments and sounds for one fairly low fee.

GoodReader is the iPad’s best PDF reader. You can annotate documents, extract text, and now also rearrange, split and combine documents. The app previews various other files as well, can create and extract ZIP archives, and is capable of connecting to a wide range of online services. Alongside Dropbox, it makes a great surrogate Finder/Preview combination — a must-have for iPad power users.

Going head-to-head with Kindle, iBooks is a decent ebook reader, backed by the iBookstore. As you’d expect from Apple, the interface is polished and usable, with handy cross-device bookmark syncing, highlighting, and various display options. It’s also a capable PDF reader, for your digital magazine collection.

Although the iPad enables a certain amount of basic multi-tasking, anyone who constantly juggles a number of instant messaging services will soon be tired of leaping between apps. IM+ is a good solution, enabling you to run a number of IM services in a single app, and there’s also a built-in web browser for checking out links.

You’re not going to make the next Hollywood hit on your iPad, but iMovie‘s more than capable of dealing with home movies. The interface resembles its desktop cousin and is easy to get to grips with. Clips can be browsed, arranged and cut, and you can then add titles, transitions and music. For the added professional touch, there are ‘trailer templates’ to base your movie on, rather than starting from scratch.

After a stint on the iPhone, Kickstarter has now arrived on Apple’s slates and it’s the perfect fit for it, giving you a big window into thousands of projects which you can back with a tap. Browse by categories and sub-categories, select how to sort projects or just search for a specific one. Just be careful. Last time we launched the app we emerged six hours later and hundreds of pounds poorer. We eagerly await delivery of our smart socks.

There’s something fascinating about animation, and iStopMotion is a powerful and usable app for unleashing your inner Aardman, enabling you to create frame-by-frame stories. There’s also time-lapse functionality built-in, and the means to use the free iStopMotion Remote Camera with an iPhone on the same network.

If you’re still convinced the iPad is only a device for staring brain-dead at TV shows and not a practical tool for education, check out iTunes U. The app enables you to access many thousands of free lectures and courses taught by universities and colleges, thereby learning far more than what bizarre schemes current soap characters are hatching.

Graphic design can get pretty complex, with the best designers spending years honing their skills. For the rest of us who can’t seem to manage putting text and photos in the same space without it looking terrible, there’s Canva. An incredibly simple and intuitive app, Canva offers a wide array of templates for almost any situation, with low-cost stock photography available as an in-app purchase.

Amazon’s Kindle iPad app for reading myriad books available at the Kindle Store is a little workmanlike, and doesn’t match the coherence of iBooks (you buy titles in Safari and ‘sync’ purchases via Kindle). However, Kindle’s fine for reading, and you get options to optimise your experience (including the ability to kill the naff page-turn animation and amend the page background to a pleasant sepia tone).

Korg Gadget bills itself as the “ultimate mobile synth collection on your iPad” and it’s hard to argue. You get 15 varied synths in all, ranging from drum machines through to ear-splitting electro monsters, and an intuitive piano roll for laying down notes. A scene/loop arranger enables you to craft entire compositions in the app, which can then be shared via the Soundcloud-powered GadgetCloud or sent to Dropbox. This is a more expensive app than most, but if you’re a keen electronic-music-oriented songwriter with an iPad, it’s hard to find a product that’s better value.

The idea behind Launch Center Pro is to take certain complex actions and turn them into tappable items — a kind of speed-dial for tasks such as adding items to Clear, opening a URL in 1Password, or opening a specific view in Google Maps. Although the list of supported apps isn’t huge, it’s full of popular productivity apps; and should you use any of them on a regular basis, Launch Center Pro will be a massive time-saver and is well worth the outlay.

It was a very long time in coming, and there were fears Microsoft would make a half-hearted effort to get Word on to the iPad. In the end, we actually got a surprisingly powerful, touch-optimised, high-quality word processor and layout app. The subset of tools you get from the PC version is more than sufficient, and for free you can use the app as a viewer. For editing, you’ll need an Office 365 subscription (from $12.99 monthly), and this will also give you access to Excel and Powerpoint, along with office apps on other platforms.

One for film buffs, Movies figures out where you are and tells you what’s showing in your local cinemas – or you can pick a film and it’ll tell you where and when it’s on. The app is functionally identical on iPad and iPhone, but again the extra screen space improves the experience.

There are loads of note-taking apps for the iPad, but Notability hits that sweet spot of being usable and feature-rich. The basic notepad view is responsive, but also enables you to zoom and add fine details. Elsewhere, you can type, import documents, and record audio. Notes can be searched and, crucially, backed up to various cloud-based web services.

We mention Microsoft’s iPad efforts elsewhere, but if you don’t fancy paying for a subscription and yet need some spreadsheet-editing joy on your iPad, Numbers is an excellent alternative. Specially optimised for Apple’s tablet, Numbers makes great use of custom keyboards, smart zooming, and forms that enable you to rapidly enter data. Presentation app Keynote and page-layout app Pages are also worth a look.

There’s a certain train of thought that apps shouldn’t ape real-world items, but we dismiss such talk. They just shouldn’t ape real-world items badly! Paper by FiftyThree gets this right, with beautiful sketchbooks in which you can scribble, then share across the web. Books and the pen tool are free, and other tools are available via In-App Purchase.

PCalc Lite‘s existence means the lack of a built-in iPad calculator doesn’t bother us (in fact, we’d love to replace the iPhone Calculator app with PCalc Lite as well). This app is usable and feature-rich – and if you end up wanting more, in-app purchases enable you to bolt on extras from the full PCalc.

If you haven’t binge watched Jessica Jones yet, you should probably download the Netflix app for your iPad, subscribe to the streaming service and fix that. The top dog when it comes to video streaming services around the world, Netflix is made for watching on any screen, but is particularly good on an iPad.

Pocket and Instapaper have long battled it out for ‘article scraper’ king, but Pocket trumps its rival in appealing to iPad-owning cheapskates. Instapaper requires a purchase for iPad goodness, but Pocket is free. It’s also very fast, offers tagging, includes a great original article/plain-text toggle, and has a vaguely Flipboard-like visual grid-based index.

We’ve elsewhere mentioned Comics, but Sequential has a slightly different take on the medium. It’s an altogether more upmarket affair, aimed at graphic novels and collections of sequential art that are supposed to be taken seriously. Therefore, this isn’t so much everything but the kitchen sink, but a repository for a carefully curated selection of some of the best comics ever created.

We tend to quickly shift children from finger-painting to using much finer tools, but the iPad shows there’s plenty of power in your digits — if you’re using the right app. Autodesk SketchBook provides all the tools you need for digital sketching, from basic doodles through to intricate and painterly masterpieces; and if you’re wanting to share your technique, you can even time-lapse record to save drawing sessions to your camera roll. The core app is free, but it will cost you $5.99 to unlock the pro features.

Augmented reality is still in its early days, but Sky Guide shows off the potential of merging the virtual with the real. Using your iPad, you can search the heavens in real-time, the app providing live details of constellations and satellites within your field of view. Away from the outdoors, Sky Guide doubles as a kind of reference book, offering further insight into distant stars, and the means to view the sky at different points in history.

In theory, we should be cheerleading for FaceTime, what with it being built into iOS devices, but it’s still an Apple-only system. Skype, however, is enjoyed by myriad users who haven’t been bitten by the Apple bug, and it works very nicely on the iPad, including over 3G.

Skyscanner‘s website is pretty good, but the iPad app’s another great example of how an app’s focus can really help you speed through a task. You use the app to search over a thousand airlines, and it provides straightforward competitive journey lists and comparison graphs. If you’re planning a flight, it’s an indispensable download.

Apple’s Photos app has editing capabilities, but they’re not terribly exciting — especially when compared to Snapseed. Here, you select from a number of effect types and proceed to pinch and swipe your way to a transformed image. It’s a fun tool, but there’s plenty of control for anyone determined to get their photos just so.

Soulver is more or less the love child of a spreadsheet and the kind of calculations you do on the back of an envelope. You write figures in context, and Souvler extracts the maths bits and tots up totals; each line’s results can be used as a token in subsequent lines, enabling live updating of complex calculations. Drafts can be saved, exported to HTML, and also synced via Dropbox or iCloud.

TED describes itself as “riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world”. The app pretty much does as you’d expect – you get quick access to dozens of inspiring videos. However, it goes the extra mile in enabling you to save any talk for offline viewing, and also for providing hints on what to watch next if you’ve enjoyed a particular talk.

Need to make a newsletter, invitation, or report? Then you need Adobe Slate. The app lets you combine text and images into a visual story that flows like the best digital magazines. It’s simple to use, letting you effortlessly create a professional story and it’s easy to share too, giving you a link which allows your readers to open it on phones, tablets and computers.

Apple’s iDevices have always been a little limited when it comes to video file formats. Infuse Pro makes all those concerns go away. With support for playback of pretty much any video file format, Infuse Pro really stands out in its ability to decode Dolby audio in-app, unlike many other video playback apps. With its sleek interface and automatic metadata collation, it’s an essential purchase for anyone wanting to avoid iTunes.

Output your iPad’s audio to an amp or a set of portable speakers, fire up TuneIn Radio, select a station and you’ve a set-up to beat any DAB radio. Along with inevitable social sharing, the app also provides an alarm, AirPlay support, pause and rewind, and a ‘shake to switch station’ feature – handy if the current DJ’s annoying and you feel the need to vent.

The Wikipedia website works fine in Safari for iPad, but dedicated apps make navigating the site simpler and faster. Wikipanion is an excellent free app, with a sleek iOS 7-style design, an efficient two-pane landscape view, and excellent bookmarking and history access.

While Netflix and Stan arguably have much more polished apps, Presto stands out for its impressive lineup of unique premium programming. For a start, it’s the only place you’ll be able to stream HBO content, while its partnership with both Channel 7 and Foxtel means it has a wide, varied selection of locally produced content.

When the YouTube app presumably became a victim of the ongoing and increasingly tedious Apple/Google spat, there were concerns Google wouldn’t respond. Those turned out to be unfounded, because here’s yet another bespoke, nicely designed Google-created app for iOS. The interface is specifically tuned for the iPad, and AirPlay enables you to fire videos at an Apple TV.

Australia’s Streaming Video on Demand market has exploded in 2015, with Aussie service Stan going head to head with the might of Netflix. The Stan app is polished, responsive and has an abundance of excellent content to watch, with a monthly subscription fee of $10 which can be purchased via in-app purchase.

Mind-mapping is one of those things that’s usually associated with dull business things, much like huge whiteboards and the kind of lengthy meetings that make you hope the ground will swallow you up. But really they’re perfect whenever you want to get thoughts out of your head and then organise them.

On paper, this process can be quite messy, and so MindNode is a boon. You can quickly and easily add and edit nodes, your iPad automatically positioning them neatly. Photos, stickers and notes can add further context, and your finished document can be shared publicly or privately using a number of services.

When you’re told you can control the forces of nature with your fingertips that probably puts you more in mind of a game than a book. And, in a sense, Earth Primer does gamify learning about our planet. You get a series of engaging and interactive explanatory pages, and a free-for-all sandbox that cleverly only unlocks its full riches when you’ve read the rest of the book.

Although ultimately designed for children, it’s a treat for all ages, likely to plaster a grin across the face of anyone from 9 to 90 when a volcano erupts from their fingertips.

For most guitarists, sound is the most important thing of all. It’s all very well having a massive rig of pedals and amps, but only if what you get out of it blows away anyone who’s listening. For our money, BIAS FX is definitely the best-sounding guitar amp and effects processor on the iPad, with a rich and engaging collection of gear.

Fortunately, given the price-tag, BIAS FX doesn’t skimp on set-up opportunities either. A splitter enables complex dual-signal paths; and sharing functionality enables you to upload your creations and check out what others have done with the app.

We love our iPads, but during the day tend to spend our time glued to glowing laptop and desktop displays. There’s always the sense the iPad could be doing something. With Status Board that something is acting as a status display for you or your business. You drag and drop customisable panels, including clocks, weather forecasts, calendar details and website feeds, thereby giving you constant glanceable updates for important info.

A one-off IAP ($14.99) unlocks further options that are mostly perhaps more suited to business environments (graphs, tables, HTML, photos, countdowns and text); and in either case support for HD displays enables you to present your status board really large, should you feel the need.

With visible pixels essentially eradicated from modern mobile device screens, it’s amusing to see pixel art stubbornly refusing to go away. Chunky pixels are, though, a very pleasing aesthetic, perhaps in part because you know effort and thought has gone into the placement of every single dot. For our money, Pixaki is the only app worth considering for iPad-related pixel art.

It’s simple and elegant, with straightforward tools, an extremely responsive canvas, global and document-specific palettes, and multiple brush sizes. Extra points, too, for the opacity slider’s handle being a Pac-Man ghost.

We’re big fans of the Foldify apps, which enable people to fashion and customise little 3D characters on an iPad, before printing them out and making them for real. This mix of digital painting, sharing (models can be browsed, uploaded and rated) and crafting a physical object is exciting in a world where people spend so much time glued to virtual content on screens.

But it’s Foldify Dinosaurs that makes this list because, well, dinosaurs. Who wouldn’t be thrilled at the prospect of making a magenta T-Rex with a natty moustache? Should that person exist, we don’t want to meet them.

The internet is the world’s greatest cookbook these days, although with so many sites dedicated to recipes, it can be hard to find the exact one you want for any given meal. That’s what makes Basil so great – it allows you to collect recipes from anywhere on the internet, and easily import them to the app for offline viewing.

Despite the fact that it’s a ridiculous bubble, real estate values in this country is still growing. If you want to buy a house, or looking for a new place to rent, or just want to see what you could get if you sold your three-bedroom house on the outskirts of Sydney, the Domain app will give you everything you need with a user-friendly touch interface.

There are quite a few scanners available for iOS, but Scanbot is the one you should keep on your iPad, primarily because it does a whole lot more than just scanning. That’s not to say it doesn’t do that bit well, because it does; scans are crisp, clear, optionally automatically cropped and straightened, and shareable to a wide range of services.

But pay the IAP and you gain access to smart file-naming, the means to add new pages to existing scans, and text recognition. This not only enables searches of filed scans, but also the automated extraction of key information- phone numbers; URLs; email addresses- into a smartly conceived actions menu.

Illustration tools are typically complex. Sit someone in front of Adobe Photoshop and they’ll figure out enough of it in fairly short order. Adobe Illustrator? No chance. Assembly attempts to get around such roadblocks by turning graphic design into the modern-day touchscreen equivalent of working with felt shapes — albeit very powerful felt shapes that can shift beneath your fingers.

At the foot of the screen are loads of design elements, and you drag them to the canvas. Using menus and gestures, shapes can be resized, coloured, duplicated and transformed. Given enough time and imagination, you can create abstract masterpieces, cartoonish geometric robots, and beautiful flowing landscapes. It’s intuitive enough for anyone, but we suspect pro designers will enjoy Assembly too, perhaps even using it for sketching out ideas. And when you’re done, you can output your creations to PNG or SVG.

There’s a miniature revolution taking place in digital comics. Echoing the music industry some years ago, more publishers are cottoning on to readers very much liking DRM-free content. With that in mind, you now need a decent iPad reader for your PDFs and CBRs, rather than whatever iffy reading experience is welded to a storefront.

Chunky is the best comic-reader on iPad. The interface is simple but customisable. If you want rid of transitions, they’re gone. Tinted pages can be brightened. And smart upscaling makes low-res comics look good. Paying the one-off ‘pro’ IAP enables you to connect to Mac or Windows shared folders or FTP. Downloading comics then takes seconds, and the app will happily bring over folders full of images and convert them on-the-fly into readable digital publications.

You’re probably dead inside if you sit down with Metamorphabet and it doesn’t raise a smile — doubly so if you use it alongside a tiny human. The app takes you through all the letters of the alphabet, which contort and animate into all kinds of shapes. It suitably starts with A, which when prodded grows antlers, transforms into an arch, and then goes for an amble. It’s adorable.

The app’s surreal, playful nature never lets up, and any doubts you might have regarding certain scenes — such as floaty clouds representing ‘daydream’ in a manner that doesn’t really work — evaporate when you see tiny fingers and thumbs carefully pawing at the iPad’s glass while young eyes remain utterly transfixed.

It’s been a long time coming, but finally Tweetbot gets a full-fledged modern-day update for iPad. And it’s a good one, too. While the official Twitter app’s turned into a ‘blown-up iPhone app’ monstrosity on Apple’s tablet, Tweetbot makes use of the extra space by way of a handy extra column in which you can stash mentions, lists, and various other bits and bobs.

Elsewhere, this latest release might lack a few toys Twitter selfishly keeps for itself, but it wins out in terms of multitasking support, granular mute settings, superb usability, and an interesting Activity view if you’re the kind of Twitter user desperate to know who’s retweeting all your tiny missives.

This music app is inspired by layered composition techniques used in some classical music. You tap out notes on a piano roll, and can then have up to four playheads simultaneously interpret your notes, each using unique speeds, directions and transpositions. For the amateur, Fugue Machine is intuitive and mesmerising, not least because of how easy it is to create something that sounds gorgeous.

For pros, it’s a must-have, not least due to MIDI output support for driving external software. It took us mere seconds to have Fugue Machine working with Animoog’s voices, and the result ruined our productivity for an entire morning. (Unless you count composing beautiful music when you should be doing something else as ‘being productive’. In which case, we salute you.)

While the likes of iMovie have gone a long way in making video editing a simple task on the iPad, the fact remains that it’s still a lot of work. Replay goes ahead and takes the bulk of that work and does it for you, giving you creative films that can be done in minutes.

Pulling photos and videos from your cameras roll, and applying filters, cuts and effects to the final product, Replay is an amazing free app, although you’ll need to spring $12.99 as an in-app purchase to get all the available themes. If you want to make memories from your photos and videos though, this is one of the quickest and easiest ways to do it, and is worth every cent.

Even though the iPad is an immensely powerful mobile device, there’s no getting away from it sometimes being fiddly for performing complex tasks; this is all the more frustrating if said tasks are something you must do regularly. Fortunately,Workflow is here to help.

It includes over 200 actions that work with built-in and third-party apps, enabling you to fashion complex automation that’s subsequently activated at the touch of a button. To help you get started, the gallery houses dozens of pre-built workflows, and for added flexibility, you can access those you create or install from inside the app, via the Today widget, or by way of a custom Home screen app-like shortcut.

Typography is something that doesn’t come naturally to everyone. And so while there are excellent apps for adding text to images, you might want more help, rather than spending hours fine-tuning a bunch of misbehaving letters. That’s where Retype comes in. You load a photo or a piece of built-in stock art, and type some text. Then it’s just a case of selecting a style.

The type’s design updates whenever you edit your text, and variations can be accessed by repeatedly prodding the relevant style’s button. Basic but smart filter, blur, opacity and fade commands should cement Retype’s place on your iPad.

So you want to learn to code for iOS? Then you’re going to need to understand Swift, Apple’s programming language. Fortunately, Swifty exists to help you on your coding journey. Simple, accessible and with over 200 interactive tutorials to help you learn the language behind the apps you use, Swifty is a great starting point for anyone getting started in iOS development.

Small business owners know that one of the worst parts of running a business is having to deal with the paperwork at the end of the day. Aussie app Invoice2Go takes the pain out of the process, allowing businesses to send invoices immediately without needing to open up Excel, as well as tracking payments, chasing down overdue Invoices and keeping tabs of business performance over time. You’ll need to pay a yearly subscription to get the full benefit of the app, but for the convenience and benefit, you won’t regret the cost.

Powered by WPeMatico