It’s never easy to follow up a beloved device, especially when it’s one that managed to fuse ancient technology with a modern-day phablet. But the Purah Pad — a spiritual successor to the Sheikah Slate — manages to add more utility to a device that already let you control physics. It still doesn’t have much in the way of entertainment options, but its new design and feature set are ideal for those traveling around Hyrule, particularly 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 at the bottom. It has a rather ornate design that fits right in among any other ancient tech you might have but also results in a gigantic bezel that can obscure the edges of the display. It’s form over function. I should also note that somehow, once again, this device has infinite battery life.
The Purah Pad has a familiar array of basic apps and functionality, organized by a spartan UI. There’s a telescope for scouting things in the distance, which also has the option to pin important points to your map. The camera app — which, curiously, doesn’t come preinstalled — is great, not just for taking selfies but also for cataloging wildlife, monsters, and other important things in the Hyrule Compendium app. The two features work seamlessly together, a clear benefit of having hardware and software designed by the same teams, but are held back by limited storage that only lets you keep a small number of photos on the device. (It does not support cloud storage, either.)
I was particularly impressed with the refreshed contacts app, which does an incredible job of keeping up-to-date information on pretty much everyone you interact with, whether a helpful spirit or a forest musician. If you travel a lot — and, say, haven’t been to Hyrule in the last five years or so — it’s a lifesaver that helps ensure you’re able to discern Teba from Tulin.
The most important function of the device, though, remains the map. Unfortunately, due to yet another calamity, setting up the map is once again a DIY endeavor. Hyrule is littered with Skyview Towers, and reaching them is pivotal to fleshing out your map with useful GPS data. Frustratingly, they tend to be in out-of-the-way locations, often covered in prickly vines or surrounded by a moblin camp.
Once you reach a tower, accessing the map data is surprisingly straightforward and fun — so long as you aren’t scared of heights. First, you tap your pad on the tower’s console (NFC capabilities are a base feature of the device), and you’re then flung in 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 a lot more exhilarating. It also provides more information than in the past, with new mapping data covering the skies in addition to the ground and the depths below. And don’t worry: you’ll be connected to the tower via a giant cable, so it’s not as dangerous as it seems.
Arguably the biggest change for the Purah Pad is its new wearable connectivity. Right now, the device only supports the Ultrahand, which admittedly, is available in very limited quantities at the moment, making it exclusive to those who have access to the spirit of a long-lost ruler. But with both gadgets, you have the option to not only quickly access your map and camera but also utilize a brand-new functionality that lets you move objects, rewind time, fuse things together, and ascend through the ceiling. It can be tricky to get the hang of, but used together, these tools make getting around both easy and an act of creativity — and more than make up for the fact that the Purah Pad does not have an Uber app.
It’s easy to ding the Purah Pad for lacking that basic functionality. It’s hard to imagine launching a tablet now that still doesn’t have major apps like Netflix or TikTok, especially given that was a major complaint of the Sheikah Slate. But this isn’t a device you pick for entertainment: it’s a tool. And in that regard, it’s definitely a step up, with a lot more functionality designed specifically for staying safe and informed while traveling. It’s pretty much an essential part of saving the realm of Hyrule again — the biggest challenge is likely still getting your Ultrahand on one.