The Daily (iPad) hands-on

Costing a mammoth $30 million to set up and launch, and approximately $500,000 per day to run, Rupert Murdoch's latest venture, The Daily, is no mere application. The iPad-only (for now) multimedia news service may not be the most original of concepts, after all, many content-rich publications have launched since the tablet was first introduced, but it's certainly the most ambitious.

Delivering 100 pages of news, features, pictures, video and interactive gaming and in-app software every single day, there has never quite been anything like it. And that's no mere hyperbole.

From the very start, The Daily thrusts content at you like an eager child who's spent all day colouring in. It is split into several sections - News, Gossip, Opinion, Arts & Life, Apps & Games, and Sport - in much the same way as a conventional newspaper, but the section leaders swim on your iPad smoothly and beautifully. Click on a section header, and the stories take main stage in the same menu system.

The application works in portrait and landscape modes, and even tailors certain sections to make maximum benefit of both, including the cropping of pictures. And if something is better viewed in one of the orientations over the other, an on-screen prompt will suggest that you flip.

As a News Corp publication, there's naturally some journalism going on, with plenty of text to read, but that's not The Daily's aim or strong point. Where it comes into its own is in the delivery of supplementary material, be that in picture, video or interactive form.

The Apps & Games section, for example, has fully interactive versions of Sudoku and a crossword puzzle. it also features an animated artwork splashpage, just because it can. There are also app reviews (in this case, of travel applications) which can be downloaded from iTunes through an in-app link.

Other sections are healthily spattered with video clips, such as a feature on the Harlem Globetrotters in the Sports section. And most of the advertising throughout is heavy on streaming vids. There's one for Land Rover and another for the new animated Johnny Depp vehicle, Rango.

This is, perhaps, the only downside to The Daily that we can find. As the video is streamed from the net, rather than downloaded each day (after all, it'd fill up a 16GB iPad pretty quickly otherwise) you'll need to be in a Wi-Fi hotspot, or at home, to make the most of the app. It won't play video when you're on 3G only (or not in a Wi-Fi area) as, presumably, it'd soon absorb your entire data allowance.

However, the rest is available and is not reliant on the cloud once downloaded. And considering the weight of information and material on offer, there's more than enough for even the most troublesome commute.

At 99 cents a week (14 cents a day, roughly, as it's published 365 days a year) or $39.99 a year, it certainly represents great value - much better than the newspapers behind paywalls in the UK - and with Verizon offering up the first 2 weeks for absolutely free (as long as you have a US iTunes account) it's worth a try at least.

Time will tell whether News Corp's political leanings will start to seep into its writing and focus, but for now, it's a refreshing look at the world in a way that's bang up to date.

What do you think of The Daily? Let us know in the comments below...