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The best iPad entertainment apps

The Apple iPad is one of the most popular and influential consumer electronics devices in history. Its sleek design and great portability have made it an excellent slate for web surfing, movie watching, email checking, and numerous other activities.

That said, the role that the Apple App Store has played in its success should not be overlooked. According to Apple, over 375,000 iPad apps have been released worldwide. That's a lot of apps that run the gamut from the entertaining to the business-centric. You can transform your iPad into virtually anything.

Obviously, you couldn’t possibly install all of these apps due to storage or quality limitations – and picking out the best iPad apps isn’t an easy task. You could scour the App Store for user reviews, but really, do you want to go down that road? First of all, it's an incredible time sink. Secondly, user reviews can be highly biased, and a little-known app may only have a handful of reviews.

That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you, and compiled our own list of top iPad apps. This is the third in a series of articles looking at the best iPad apps in a number of different categories – we’ve already covered communication and social apps, along with business and productivity apps. This time around, we’re looking at entertainment apps.

Note that our crowning of top apps focuses on native iPad apps that deliver unique and compelling tablet-based experiences all of their own, not iPhone apps running in 2X mode.

Install all the apps that appeal to you (assuming your iPad has the available storage!), and by the time you’ve finished reading this series, you'll be well on the way to an excellent tablet computer experience.

Finally, if you think we’ve missed some classic apps out, please let us (and other readers) know about them in the comments section below.

Okay, so let’s get on with the show and look at the top entertainment apps for the iPad, which include the likes of Crackle, Rdio and Vevo. Click on the title of any app to link through to download it on iTunes.

500px (free)

The official 500px iPad app brings some of the web's best and most interesting photos to your Apple tablet. You can filter by categories, browse by Editor’s Choice, Popular, Upcoming, and Fresh photo streams, and even create personalised slideshows.

Crackle (free)

Crackle, Sony's video network, lets users stream free, ad-supported Hollywood television shows and uncut movies (as well as original content) from Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Classic, and TriStar Pictures. There's a nice variety of classic and contemporary content here, making it a solid iPad app for anyone who would like to kick back with their tablet and watch a program without needing to open their wallet.

Netflix (free)

This app enhances the value of a Netflix subscription by letting you watch movies directly on your iPad with excellent streaming capabilities. If you’re a Netflix subscriber, there’s no good reason why you shouldn’t have it on board your tablet.

Planetary (free)

This iPad audio player lets you navigate your music and podcast collections by taking a jaunt to stars (artist), planets (albums), and moons (songs). Intellectually, it's completely unneeded, but sometimes logic doesn't apply to pure coolness.

Rdio (£14.99 per month)

Rdio (pronounced are-dee-oh) deftly blends music and social networking into a worthwhile service that music fans should tune into – if they don't mind paying a monthly fee, as there's no free option (save for a trial). With over 7 million tracks in its catalogue and collaborative playlists, Rdio is a streaming music service worth sampling.

Shazam (free)

So you're in a bar with a few good friends reminiscing about the good old days when a song plays in the background. Not any song – but that song. Unfortunately, that song's artist and lyrics reside in the dusty, cobweb-covered parts of your brain. Shazam was made for those kinds of nights – it will provide you with those much-needed names you can’t quite put your finger on. If you find yourself frequently attempting to guess song or artist names, Shazam should be a part of your app library.

Showyou (free)

If you fancy kicking back with your iPad and watching a batch of videos supplied by various online communities, Showyou is a solid alternative to signing in to a number of different sites individually. There are some minor interface issues, but it's a very respectable app otherwise.

Spotify Premium (£9.99 per month)

Spotify for iPad is an ear and eye-catching way to enjoy Spotify, although it lacks the intuitiveness, flexibility, and depth of its desktop service. Still, it’s one of the top streaming music players for the iPad, and you get perks like offline listening.

StumbleUpon (free)

Tired of visiting the same old online destinations? The beautifully revamped StumbleUpon app lets you Sam Beckett your way through the web, leaping from article of interest to article of interest. You can also check out the specific links that have been submitted by fellow Stumblers who you follow if you aren't in the mood for randomness.

THX tune-up (£1.49)

THX tune-up can't replace a professional calibrator, but it's an inexpensive and easy way to calibrate your HDTV. You won't change individual colour channel settings, but you'll bring out the best shadow and highlight detail, and make sure your colours aren't too skewed. Just make sure you have either an Apple TV or an Apple AV Adapter before downloading it, or it won't be useful for anything.

TuneIn Radio Pro (£2.99)

Featuring audio recording, clear sound, and some 70,000 streaming stations, this is, unquestionably, the app for the radio enthusiasts.

Vevo (free)

Vevo HD is a music fan's dream app. Not only do you get an excellent mix of music videos from the likes of Adele, Coldplay, and Madonna, but also interviews, interesting trivia questions, and the ability to create personalised video playlists.

YouTube (free)

If you spend any amount of time with the world's largest video repository, you should download this app. YouTube for iPad captures most of what makes YouTube work. It's missing some content and options, but it's still a very capable video app that's worth downloading. And on top of all that, it's free! Incidentally, you can check out our YouTube iPad app review here.