Why Must iPad 2 ?
- It's thinner. The iPad 2 comes in about 33 percent thinner than the first iPad and weighs about 15 percent less, making for a lighter experience.
- It's faster. It's twice as fast, and the graphics are reported to be nine times better looking.
- It's smarter. The RAM has been beefed up from 256MB to 512MB.
- Cameras. There are two cameras--a rear camera that shoots 720 p photos and HD videos, and a front-facing camera that shoots 720 p photos and VGA video for use with Facetime, allowing you to talk to people and see them at the same time.
- Gyroscope. The iPad 2 features a gyroscope, which comes in handy with many movement-based games and apps.
- Video output/mirroring. Apple is offering an add-on HDMI dongle that allows you to mirror what you're doing on the iPad onto a TV or other monitor, an excellent addition for educators.
- New colors. The iPad 2 now comes in two colors--white, as well as the original black.
- Smart cover. Apple is offering a magnetic smart cover that protects the iPad 2 screen. Some people have complained that the cover doesn't stay on very well. I wasn't able to get one, so I can't review the new cover yet.
SpeedThe dual-core A 5 processor and increased memory provide a surprisingly fast experience. Though 512MB seems very minimal by today's standards, the iPad 2 is blazing fast. When you touch the screen, results are instantaneous. Whether drawing with an app, gaming, or streaming content, the iPad 2 delivers with incredible speed. Most surprising to me was how quickly the device comes on and is ready to go.
GraphicsThey look great. While the screen size (9.7 inches) and resolution (1024 x 768) screen are the same, the increased memory and processing power make everything look better on the iPad 2. Whether playing HD games or watching video on iTunes or Netflix, movies look phenomenal on the iPad.
AppsWhile other tablets have hit the market, none of them can compete with Apple when it comes to apps (or intuitive ease of use). For the iPad, it's all about the apps. From productivity apps, to educational apps, to games, to creative apps such as iMovie and Garage Band, the iPad 2 is a media-consuming machine that provides an endless amount of entertainment.
Battery LifeThe iPad 2 lasts about the same as the prior version, roughly 10 hours, which puts most laptops to shame
The Not-So-Good StuffThe iPad 2 is awesome, but there are still some glaring issues which keep it from being perfect. Although I don't see any competitors who can capitalize on these weaknesses yet, it's only a matter of time before someone offers what Apple is missing, if the next iPad doesn't increase exponentially.
Here's where the iPad 2 fails:
- The cameras suck. While a welcome addition to the iPad 2, the cameras are awful in quality. The video is not much better. I've seen better quality in children's cameras. This probably isn't a deal breaker for most people, but it seems like an area where Apple could have put forth a better effort.
- No expendable memory slots. Once again, Apple has neglected to offer an SD slot for storage, which is a huge inconvenience to those looking to manage large storage. The iPad comes in three memory sizes--16 Gig, 32 Gig and 64 Gig. Given that movies can come in at a gig, easily, the 16 GB is unlikely to be a great option for those who watch lots of movies. While you can utilize cloud-based services such as Dropbox, getting extra storage should not be such an incredible inconvenience.
- Sound. The sound of the iPad comes from one mono speaker, and the quality is weak. There's no excuse not to offer stereo speakers on the device, even if it would have added some extra weight. You can plug in headphones or hook up the iPad up to an external speaker set-up, but once again, this is an inconvenience.
- Typing is a chore. If you're buying an iPad with thoughts of being productive with word processing tasks, think again. The typewriter is a chore to use. This might not affect kids who can text at 5,000 characters a minute on their cell phones, but for people used to typing on ACTUAL keyboards, the iPad falls woefully short.
But, do you NEED to run out and get an iPad 2?
If you don't need any of the new features listed above, and you're satisfied with a slower processor and lesser graphics, then hold out and see what Apple releases next year.
However, if you must have the latest and best, or the new features are must-have items, then yes, get an iPad 2. Now.
Ease of Use: 9/10
Video: 4/10 for front facing 5/10 for rear facing HD.
Sound: 6/10 (due to its single mono speaker)
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