Needing more topics on which I can bloviate, I have decided to start a series of posts to highlight and promote products and services that I enjoy, and I am sure others will also. First up, we have a product in which I have recently fallen madly in love: the National Geographic Tablet app/edition. So, stand back everyone, I’m about to go Oprah on all your Asses.

While I do care about the environment, and anyone who has seen me around animals would vouch that I am an animal lover, I never particularly wanted a subscription to National Geographic. “Sciency” stuff just didn’t really interest me; let alone looking at pictures of rare twigs or the Mexican Staring Frog of Southern Sri Lanka (props to anyone who gets that reference). However, recently my tastes in reading materials changed, and $29.99 (AUD) for a 12-month subscription (12 issues) did not seem too extravagant. I bought it, and was immediately dazzled by the quality of the iPad edition. I have not looked back since.

But I’m guessing you are now thinking, why National Geographic? Well, in the past few months I have learnt about the King James Bible, Twins, the Christian Apostles, and the American Civil War; and have born witness to truly spectacular photography of the Titanic (and not Clive Palmer’s shitty one). And these are just the cover stories. I have also learned about the plight of Koalas (which, even as an Australian I was blissfully unaware) and been blown away by daily dispatches from Everest etc. etc. Hardly the “sciency” stuff I had feared, in fact, the very things we should all be interested in, just because we are humans.

So what makes the tablet edition better than the hard copy? Well, first of all, National Geographic has made their app stunning. I mean, really beautiful. The app “boot up” often integrates an animation from the latest issue, for example, the current issue explores solar flares and the boot up involves a beautiful animation of a solar flare up close. But this is the tip of the iceberg. Nat Geo has also stuffed the issues with a bunch of exclusive (and beautiful/informative) photographs and videos. The photographs are especially nice, as they have the ability to zoom, where the hard copy does not, (barring the use of a magnifying glass of course). The videos can include interviews, more content on the stories, or even just a nice method of illustrating the point (such as with the current Solar Flare issue). As far as I am aware, no one has yet perfected a method of embedding a video into a print edition of a magazine. And finally, the iPad edition saves paper (save the trees and all that).

In the short time I have had my iPad, I have experienced quite a few of the pathetic attempts by publishers to digitalize their products. To date I have used the digital versions of The Economist, Time Magazine, The Nation (US version) and Foreign Affairs, as well as a six month adventure with the digital newspaper service Press Reader. All of them, quite frankly, blow. They are little more than “carbon” copies of the hard copy editions, with a few useless additions such as the ability to “listen” to articles and tell all your friends what you are reading through Twitter and Facebook. Hardly world changing stuff. This is where National Geographic stands out. Far out. This is why I suggest you try out the tablet version of National Geographic.