The iPad is a magical device, at least according to Apple, but is it a device worth buying to play games on? [UPDATED for the holidays.]

This is our best advice — updated regularly — about whether or not you should buy an iPad for gaming, what games to get for it and what to watch out for.

[This post was last updated on Oct. 1, 2010 and will be updated if events, news, games, prices or acts of nature cause our opinion to change.]

Should I buy an iPad for gaming now?

No way, not at this price. The iPad is a wonderful device. It's an amazing electronic book, magazine and newspaper reader. It's fantastic for watching movies on and browsing the web. And it has plenty of great applications and not a few amazing games. But gaming is more of a pleasant side effect of owning an iPad than it is an excuse to buy one.

What Else Does It Do Besides Gaming?

The iPad is a tablet computer, that means it can do a lot of the things a low-powered computer can do, but uses a touch screen instead of a physical keyboard or mouse.


You can browse the Internet, check your email, use the iPad as a digital photo frame, watch movies, listen to music, read books, magazines and newspapers, take notes and even organize your work with a calendar and contact database.

There are also those thousands of wonderful apps that add amazing functionality to the sleek, sexy device.

Above: iPad

If I'm going to take the plunge, should I get an iPad or iPad 3G?

The iPad still doesn't strike us as an on-the-go-device. We mostly use our iPads while home, or perhaps in a location with WiFi. When we do travel with the tablet a little pre-planning and an abundance of WiFi hotspots means we rarely miss the ability to log into the Internet with a cell network. Besides, that 3G plan is pricey.

I already have an iPod Touch, should I "upgrade" to an over-sized iPad?

No, not really. While the iPad may look like a bigger iPod Touch, once you get it you'll find that you don't use it in the same ways. The iPhone and iPod Touch are devices you carry around in your pocket or use in your car. The iPad is more like carrying around a book, or a really, really small laptop.

Besides, it's $500!

What are the best games on the iPad?

The iPad doesn't have the same abundance of tailor-made games that the iPhone and iPod Touch have. But there are some great titles. We're particularly fond of the games that are ports of table top gaming. Games like Boggle for iPad, Crosswords, and Shredder Chess for iPad are all terrific titles.


And there are some amazing action games as well, like Dungeon Hunter HD, Mirror's Edge for Ipad and Warpgate HD. Strategy also seems like a perfect fit for the iPad with titles like We Rule, Defense of the Oasis and Strategery topping the list.

Also, don't forget that every iPhone and iPod Touch game will run on the iPad as well. Sure, they won't look as clear, with their graphics doubling in size to fill the screen, but that's not as bad as it sounds for some games.

Click the gallery for more info about each game.

You should also check out our holiday gift guide for the iPad.

Which Ones Are The worst?

The iPad has a pretty limited selection still, in terms of games designed for the device specifically. But that doesn't mean that there aren't some bad eggs. Top of the list are the flood of quick iPhone ports that hit iTunes the day the iPad went on sale. We're also not huge fans of shooters on the iPad, mostly because that super wide screen makes controlling the game a bit too awkward.

So if I buy a system, what are the first three games I should get?

1. Angry Birds HD: This puzzle game has you shooting a variety of birds across the sky into the many different fortresses of those stinking pigs, with their beady eyes and tiny, little smirky smiles in hunt for your lost eggs. Easy to understand, hard to not get addicted to, Angry Birds combines the fun of physics-based demolition and sling-shotting, with enragingly snide pigs. That and there's more than 180 levels.


2. Plants Vs. Zombies HD: This larger version of the iPhone game features a few more twists, but the biggest draw is watching the game unfold on a huge screen with liquid fast graphics.

3. USA Today: No, you're not confused. USA Today remains one of the largest newspapers in the United States. But this free newspaper app also comes with daily free crossword puzzles and a remarkable slick interface for playing them. And it's free.

The immensely popular table-top game comes to the iPad with local and online play, a variety of creative AI players to challenge on your own and even a puzzle mode.

Click the gallery for more info about each game.

What are the big drawbacks of the system, the stuff they don't tell you?

The iPad might be a thin device, but it's not really a small device. You won't be tucking this thing into your pocket. On the go you're going to want a bag or a case and it will feel like you're carrying around a legal pad. Not heavy, but not hands free either.


Gaming on the system is still lacking for top titles. There are some good ones out there, but developers seem reluctant to take a full dive into the system. Playing active, action games can tire your arms out unless you plan on resting the iPad in your lap or on a desk.

Any hidden costs?

No, not really. Unless you get the 3G enabled iPad. Then you're talking a $25 a month 2GB data plan.

But is there a better version of iPad coming soon? Or a price drop? Maybe I should hold off

Not that we've heard, but given Apple's love of fancy new hardware updates, there's always a good chance that either a price drop or a new model (or both) are just around the corner.

Essential Facts For The iPad

The iPad was released in 2010.

The iPad is a fancy name for Apple's tablet computer. It doesn't have a physical keyboard or mouse, but it does have a pretty slick touchscreen and a virtual keyboard. The device uses a modified version of the operating system found on the iPhone and iPod Touch.

While the device can run programs and play games, it functions best as a media player. It excels at playing music and videos, displaying magazines, books and newspapers.

Both the iPad and the iPad 3G have built in WiFi.

Currently available models: iPad WiFi 16GB ($499)*, iPad WiFi 32GB ($599), iPad WiFi 64GB ($699), iPad 3G 16GB ($629), iPad 3G 32GB ($729), iPad 3G 64GB ($829).[recommended models marked with an asterisk]
Price of new games: Free to $14.99
Discount line of games: None, though prices are always shifting for games.