Is the iPad a TV?

Ok this is my first techy type article but I’ve been encouraged by Ian to spread my geeky wings so here goes. I’m actually going to pick up on a theme from two of Ian’s article on the iPad. One where he considers whether the iPad can replace a desktop computer and another where he thought about whether the iPad can replace a games console. I’m by no means qualified to comment on either of these subjects. I do have an Mac and I do have an iPad but I don’t play enough games or know enough about the industry to comment. I do however watch quite a bit of TV and films and one thing I’ve found myself doing is watching a lot of videos on my iPad. So what I wanted to talk about is can an iPad replace your TV?


One of the most important things about a TV is the picture. There is no point watching TV if you can’t see anything or have to squint to see what’s going on. If the iPad failed this point I may as well give up right now. So you’ll be pleased to here that the LED and IPS display on the iPad makes watching videos a joy. So long as you have a strong Internet connection I don’t think you’ll notice much difference as the iPad is excellent for colour and clarity which is easily the equal of my main TV. The only issue is of course the size, my iPad’s display is 10 inches across which when you think you can easily get a TV two, three or even four times bigger seems small. Of course you can have your iPad on your lap which you can’t do with you TV and you don’t notice the difference to be honest. But if you want something that the whole family can gather round your still better off with the TV, either that or you could each buy an iPad but that might be a bit expensive.


One of the main considerations for a TV is what am I going to watch on it. Well the iPad does have quite a few free apps you can use to watch TV. There is the BBC iPlayer, ITV player and Channel 4’s 4OD. Now the big advantage the ITV and BBC apps have are that you can watch live TV. 4OD you have to watch shows after they’re finished although shows are uploaded fairly sharpish after they’ve gone out live. 4OD’s party piece is that you can watch lots of old shows, not just catch up on a show you missed in the week but one you missed years ago. There is also the Sky Go app as well which I must say is excellent for watching live TV. It has more channels than the ITV and BBC equivalent and it has a catch up service, as well as a new download function so you can watch without an Internet connection. Only problem is you need a Sky subscription to use it rather than just being free. I can’t forget to mention LoveFilm and Netflix. They do suffer from the same failings as the Sky Go app in that they aren’t free, but there are plenty of films and TV series on them that aren’t available on the free services. The issue is you have to wait a while before films are available, iTunes is quicker at this but it is a download service not live streaming. Even for rentals iTunes costs quite a bit more and can take up a lot of valuable space on your iPad especially if you use it for lots of other things. One choice point for having a main TV is that it’s probably better from
a live point of view. If you want to watch shows as they’re made available then the iPad falls down. But in terms of sheer bulk the iPad has plenty of things to watch its just not as up to date as a TV.


This will be a pretty short point as clearly the iPad is more portable that a full size TV. But really that comes down to design, TV’s are meant to be big fixed screens in your living rooms and an iPad is meant to be a portable extension of your own brain (at least that’s how I treat mine). If you want to watch a show with a cup of tea then you can take your iPad with you into the kitchen no problem.

Value for Money

As ever with a consumer review I have to mention price. For a 4th gen iPad you’re not going to get much change out of £400. For that money you could quite easily get a 32 inch TV. But an iPad is much more than just something to watch TV on. I use it to do work, make lecture notes, listen to music, play games, I use it as a calendar, alarm clock, for surfing the Internet and so many more things I’ve not included here or even thought of. In contrast my TV sits in my living room all day doing nothing like some lazy couch potato. There are TVs now that you can connect to the Internet and download bespoke apps but the iPad is so much more. It is essentially a Swiss Army knife gadget, I can use it in so many aspects of my life it’s unreal.


Despite my fawning praise of the iPads uses I do find myself sitting down of an evening in front of my TV. I probably will continue to do that for a while yet as the iPad is not a complete TV, the opportunities to watch live TV are not fully-formed enough for me to consider getting rid of the big lazy thing in the corner of the living room. It is brilliant though and I would recommend getting an iPad, but don’t get rid of your TV just yet. I can envisage a time in the future when tablets like the iPad completely take over all aspects of our lives including TV. So next for the iPad is world domination and I welcome it. My life will be so much better.

By Jack Troup


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