As regular readers will know, from time to time my lady wife goes to visit her family abroad. This leaves me home alone with the credit cards, and it is my wont to console myself with a new toy. This year, that toy was an iPad.
Now, this is a gaming blog, so in this post I will consider it as a device to support my tabletop gaming. After using it for about a month, here are my initial thoughts.
- Condenses all my written rulebooks, scenarios, character sheets etc. into the form factor of a medium notebook.
- Screen large and clear enough to read A4 or 8.5″ x 11″ documents, even with my eyesight.
- Apps can replace dice, character sheets, minis and battle mats (good for playing while travelling, but I wouldn’t want to run a normal session that way).
- Less intrusive than a netbook or laptop at the table.
- Assumes that my life revolves around iTunes. It does not.
- File management, especially transferring files to and from PCs, is clumsy and often frustrating.
…AND THE APPS.
More on these later perhaps, but after going crazy downloading apps and then sorting the wheat from the chaff, I currently use:
- Dropbox. Easier to use for file transfer than iTunes, better cloud services than iCloud, and a number of other apps support automatic synchronisation with it. Free for the first 2GB of storage.
- Kindle, iBooks. If I have multiple PDFs open, I find it easier to switch between apps than to switch documents within an app. Both free.
- Dice rollers: The Dicenomicon, WFRP Toolkit, SR4Rating5LE (free). The last is especially valuable due to the number of dice needed for Shadowrun.
- Springpad: Plain text editor for short notes. Anything with a screen can display plain text without time-consuming reformatting; if format is important, make the file PDF instead. Beats other plain text editors by having a better file structure and the ability to display summaries of notes side by side.
- Hex Map Pro. Virtual tabletop with square or hex grids, tokens, etc. Can export in JPG format, but could really do with some way to draw lines instead of just filling spaces with a colour.
Finally, I strongly recommend a case of some kind. My limited experience of cats and iPads is that cats are either jealous of the attention lavished on the iPad, or fascinated by the display; in either case, they claw at it…