It’s never easy to keep track of a beloved device, especially when it’s one that has managed to blend ancient technology with a modern phablet. But the Purah Pad – a spiritual successor to the Sheikah Slate – manages to add more utility to a device that already allows you to master physics. It still doesn’t have many entertainment options, but the new design and feature set are ideal for those traveling through Hyrule, especially if you also have a wearable that gives you power over space and time.
In terms of hardware, the Purah Pad has a slightly more streamlined setup than its predecessor, with a seven-inch display flanked by physical buttons and other controls on the sides and a USB Type-C port on the bottom. It’s got a rather dainty design that fits right in with whatever other old tech you’ve got, but also results in a giant bezel that can obscure the edges of the screen. It’s form over function. I should also note that somehow this device has infinite battery life.
The Purah Pad has a familiar suite of basic apps and functionality organized by a Spartan user interface. There’s a telescope for exploring things in the distance, which also has the ability to pin key points on your map. The camera app – which oddly doesn’t come pre-installed – is great not only for taking selfies, but for cataloging wildlife, monsters and other important stuff in the Hyrule Compendium app. The two features work seamlessly together, a clear advantage of the fact that hardware and software are designed by the same teams, but are held back by limited storage space that only allows you to keep a small number of photos on the device. (It also doesn’t support cloud storage.)
I was particularly impressed with the refreshed contacts app, which does a great job of keeping up-to-date information on just about everyone you interact with, be it a helpful spirit or a woods musician. If you travel a lot – and haven’t been to Hyrule in the past five years, say – it’s a lifesaver that will help you tell Teba from Tulin.
The most important function of the device, however, remains the map. Unfortunately, due to yet another calamity, setting up the map is yet another do-it-yourself affair. Hyrule is dotted with Skyview towers and reaching them is critical to fleshing out your map with useful GPS data. Frustratingly, they are usually in remote locations, often covered in prickly vines or surrounded by a mafia camp.
Once you reach a tower, accessing the map data is surprisingly easy and fun – as long as you’re not afraid of heights. First, you tap the tower’s console with your pad (NFC capabilities are a basic feature of the device), and you’re then flung into the air, where you can use the tablet to scan your surroundings from the sky. It’s faster and more efficient than a Google Maps car, and much more exciting. It also provides more information than in the past, with new map data covering not only the ground, but the depths below it. And don’t worry: you’re connected to the tower by a giant cable, so it’s not as dangerous as it seems.
Perhaps the biggest change for the Purah Pad is the new portable connectivity. At the moment the device only supports the Ultrahand, which is admittedly available in very limited quantities at the moment, making it exclusive to those who can access the mind of a long-lost ruler. But with both gadgets you not only have the ability to quickly access your map and camera, but also use a brand new functionality that allows you to move objects, rewind time, fuse things together and go through the ceiling. to rise. It can be tricky to get the hang of, but when used together these tools make getting around easy and an act of creativity – and that makes the fact that the Purah Pad doesn’t have an Uber app more than good.
It’s easy to call it the Purah Pad because it lacks that basic functionality. It’s hard to imagine launching a tablet right now that still doesn’t have major apps like Netflix or TikTok, especially since that was a major complaint from the Sheikah Slate. But this isn’t a device you choose for entertainment: it’s a tool. And in that regard, it’s certainly a step forward, with a lot more functionality specifically designed to keep you safe and informed while travelling. It’s pretty much an essential part of saving the realm of Hyrule once again – the biggest challenge is probably still getting your Ultrahand on one.