10 Best Entertainment Tablet Apps

  • MORE

Your tablet is great for responding to priority emails and reviewing important documents, but you should use it to de-compress too. And not just with our list of the best tablet games. Each of these entertainment apps helps you relax with your slate in-hand, from watching Futurama and Breaking Bad with Netflix to using Planetary to navigate your galaxy of soothing songs by swiping from one celestial cluster to the next. Here are 10 great ways to unwind with your tablet.

dJay ($19.99)

Aspiring DJs will appreciate the impressive functionality offered by djay. The iPad-optimized design lays two turntables and a mixer right at your fingertips, letting you masterfully manipulate songs. Just load a couple of tracks directly from your music library for each virtual deck, and you’re off. The app can automatically detect and match the songs’ speeds (BPMs), crossfade, adjust the tempo and tweak EQ — there’s even an Automix function that lets you sit back and have the app do all the work. Platform: iPad

GoodPlayer ($2.99)

Because of stringent Apple rules regarding third-party media player apps for the iPad, it’s great that GoodPlayer for the iPad has held its ground. For a small fee, the app will play a wide range of video formats without first converting them to Apple’s standard MP4 format. Videos must be loaded onto the app video iTunes File Sharing before they can be played. The app supports such common video formats such as AVI, MPG and WMV, but it’ll also play lesser-known formats—Xvid, Divx, DAT, VOB, FLV and MKV, to name a few. For a robust iPad app that can handle various media formats with aplomb, GoodPlayer is it. Platform: iPad

Instacast HD ($4.99)

Instacast HD can help organize your podcasts. The app detects and imports your subscriptions, and it handily presents “Show Notes” (links that go along with the show), letting you surf with an integrated Web browser alongside the podcast narrative so you can follow along with the host. Other features include auto-recall of where you stopped the action, caching episodes for offline perusal, full Airplay integration and push notifications. But it's the attention to design details—such as cover art, layered windows and bouncy animations—that puts this app over the top. Platform: iPad

Netflix ($8.00 per month)

Instantly watch as many movies as you like, using as many Netflix-compatible devices as you own. The Netflix service juggernaut now includes more than 24 million unique users, despite the new tiered pricing scheme. It’s hard to resist the convenience of roughly 17,000 Instant Watch titles. The tablet app now features a clutter-free interface, which makes it easier to browse more content on the main page. Our favorite feature: The app painlessly syncs your progress in a movie across platforms, so you can start watching on your laptop and pick up right where you left off on your slate. Platform: Android, iPad, Kindle Fire

NYPL Biblion: World's Fair (Free)

Available for free, the first edition of the NYPL Biblion app features more than 700 items from the library’s 1939 to 1940 New York World’s Fair collection. The app features documents, essays, films and photos from the original collection, which become interactive fingertip fodder. You can fly from story to story, or browse through the “Stacks” by dragging your finger through it like a timeline. First-time users may be confused by the drama of the navigation, but that’s precisely how you were meant to discover within this app: Wandering through with free-association abandon, and relying on serendipity to take you to the next item. Platform: iPad

Planetary (Free)

Planetary, a spectacular music player for the iPad, transforms your library into a spinning system of celestial bodies. This universe is beautifully rendered in 3D, which you can explore and animate with your fingers. Swirling stars represent your artists, the moons are your songs and planets stand for your albums. The latest update delivers more detail, including solar flares, eclipses and atmospheric glow. Music playback is controlled by selecting different astronomical objects. Swiping harder means flying faster. Once this app is part of your collection, you won’t be able to help showing it off to your friends. Platform: iPad

SketchBook Mobile ($4.99)

Whether you’re a trained artist or a casual doodler, SketchBook Mobile is the best app for illustrating masterpieces on your tablet. The screen is your blank canvas, and a multitude of brushes, color wheels and six image layers become your tools to help you produce wisp-accurate sketches. The app works best with a stylus for more intricate pictures, but it also responds well to touch. You can save a work in progress, export to JPEGs, PNGs or layered PSD files or email pieces. Bonus: You can undo actions up to 10 steps back, but can't use it with Ice Cream Sandwich. Platform: Android, iPad, Kindle Fire

SkyQ ($4.99)

Developed by renowned telescope maker Celestron, SkyQ utilizes your iPad’s internal clock and compass to locate and identify stars, planets and hundreds of other celestial objects when you point your tablet heavenward. Just tap the on-screen Gyro button, and let the app follow your device's motion to show a detailed sky chart. SkyQ includes comprehensive astronomical information, such as the names and positions of the moons around Saturn, and it can track the current position of the International Space Station. Hundreds of full color images, audio guides and deep integration with Wikipedia round off the features of this app, which will keep hobbyists and amateur skygazers occupied for nights on end. Platform: iPad

SnagFilms (Free)

SnagFilms is like Netflix for hipsters and socially conscious film buffs, but with one important difference: It’s completely free. The app rounds up and lets you stream more than 150 flicks—documentaries only—across topics such as Arts and Music, Culture and Society and Politics and History. You do get a few commercials as you watch, but the collection of films from such crowd-pleasers as "A to Zeppelin" and "Top 10 UFO Sightings" to more esoteric offerings such as "Iranian Kidney Bargain Sale," is hard to beat. Like other streaming video apps, SnagFilms comes with useful features, such as queueing up films for later viewing. Platform: Android, iPad, Kindle Fire

SoundCloud (Free)

You may have seen SoundCloud widgets—musical tracks with visual waveforms and a big orange play button that amateur musicians, record labels and music-focused groups embed on websites across the Internet. Those widgets have evolved. Now, with the iPad app, you can record, share and listen to sounds on the go with the official SoundCloud for iPad. After you’ve set up your profile on the app, you select accounts to follow such as a music label, your favorite artist or a personal friend. These “followed” accounts populate tracks in your Stream, which trickles down in a feed akin to Twitter. Thanks to the community of users, you’ll never miss out on another song all the cool kids are listening to. Platform: iPad

Add a comment
1 comment
  • Brook Says:

    I just bought a NOOK Tablet and it came with a free trial of Netflix. Although they just dumped tons of their movies last week, it is still a great deal for 8 bucks. My kids watch movies and tv shows whenever they want, I watch movies whenever I can. I<3 it, its a lot better than redbox.

Back to top