It's been a year since people almost ruled out the Apple iPad as a pointless device before launch and the same went on in history to be one of the most successful devices. And as they say, history repeats itself, the second generation of the iPad sold about a million units in the first 3 days of its launch. Looking at these figures, one can only imagine the scale of success this post-PC device is currently riding on!
As usual, the UK launch is always after the American one, 3 weeks later, it hit the UK shores with very limited stocks. Luckily, I managed to get one in 10 mins whilst checking news about people queuing up for 30hrs for the same. Well no, Apple doesn't send me a copy for being a loyal fan, I do live outside the saturated areas and luckily I was able to get to the PCWorld here and got one of the last units left. It wasn't my choice to go for the 64Gb WiFi model and I had to stretch my budget a little, but extra memory is always good news!
I know there are countless reviews about the device, in print and videos, so I would try and avoid most of the common points discussed everywhere and focus more on things that will help you decide to spend your hard earned cash on the device!
The packaging is as usual…minimalistic and it just screams quality. I went for the 64GB WiFi version in White and as soon as you pick the device, you can feel that it certainly did loose some weight and is slimmer than the first gen. The back cover is aluminium and is now curved at the corners rather that squared as the Original iPad. This makes it feel slightly awkward to get to the port or buttons running along the curved edges but again, not something to hugely complain about.
The iPad 2 is about 16% lighter and 33% thinner than the first one (in figures). But when it comes to usage, it definitely feels thinner and slightly less heavier than its predecessor. But it is 13% and if you pull your iPad 1 out of the Original Apple case and weigh them side-by-side, you will not notice a huge difference.
The smart cover is a brilliant idea, but unfortunately, as someone mentioned this on the internet, it is like a G-String when it comes to covers and cases that protect devices. But still, it is lot of fun - the magnets that snap-in the right place, the cool origami shapes and the way it wakes your iPad on opening (or puts to sleep when closed), is cool and flawless, and you will not be able to walk out of the store without picking one. Only Apple can think of making something this cool even though it uses traditional magnets. But the device does need a cover on the back to protect from scratches. Currently, it is a little difficult to find one that works seamlessly with smart covers and doesn’t look ugly.
Unfortunately, all the above are American stores. You will have to shell out on shipping and probably wait for a month till the product reaches you. Also, iSkin or other main manufacturers still seem to be brewing their cases. Will keep this space updated as soon as I know more.
Apart for the thickness, the other noticeable differences are the two cameras, front and rear. Cosmetically, the iPad looks exactly like the first gen from the front, but under the hood, it's a different story. The iPad 2 packs a faster dual core process with additional RAM and you can notice the difference while launching APPs or Multi-Tasking. The two cameras are alright at best. Don’t expect anything outstanding and it was not meant to replace your digital or mobile phone cameras. (Can you imagine holding a thin slab and asking someone to smile to click a picture!! Here’s IJustine doing the same proving how ridiculous it looks)
The camera on the back shoots HD quality video and the front one works seamlessly with FaceTime. Pictures taken by these cameras are again average at the very best. For the asking price, I would have expected to see better quality cameras.
A great addition to the iPad is iMovie and this probably will be the best movie editing software on a tablet! The way you can edit movies using the timeline and multi-touch controls are amazing. This APP certainly deserves a loud applaud.
Photobooth is another decent APP that comes pre-installed and it is fun to play with various built-in effects.
Another APP that deserves 5 on 5 is GarageBand. This is absolutely brilliant and if you are interested in making your own tunes like me, then this is the Holy Grail. Look no further, it will be the best 2.99 sterlings you’ve ever spent. (And it works on the original iPad too!!)
The iPad 2 comes is 2 colours and many variations. Now this was the most difficult bit to decide on which one. Here's my take after using the white iPad.
Black or White iPad
This question bugged me for several days after deciding on getting the iPad 2. Initially I ruled out the white one completely as I checked several websites which pointed out how the white border interfers when you watch movies. But, to be honest I still was inclined towards the white as I have been using my black iPad for the past year and the new colour would be a nice change.
I began browsing for recommendations and I did come across a few videos that mention that the white borders will not cause any issues and pointed out how MacBook and MacBook Air had white borders. That's when it struck, I have the Samsung Netbook in white and I immediately turned it on to test. Seriously, I had this for a year and never had any issues with the white coloured border. And that made me change my mind. I did go for the white one and after using it constantly for the past few days, I am pleased with the purchase. The white one looks cool and the metal rim around the border blends into the white and is not as conspicuous as on the black one. You will still feel the presence of the white border while watching films, but I personally did not find that too distracting.
Coming to Memory and Connection options, this entirely depends on your usage. I had a 16GB Wifi only iPad 1 and what I missed the most on it was disk space. I couldn't download APPs like Solar System or Elements, which are about 1GB each because of the limited disc space. Also, when travelling, I couldn’t get all the movies that I wanted to, so I was firm on the disc space. I wanted to go for the 32GB model but the store only had 64GB in white. Though it stretched my budget a little, I am happy that I have ample storage on my iPad now.
Initially, I also felt the need for a 3G option, but I do have a small MiFi router and this one allows me to connect up to 5 devices. Its a pain that I will have to charge and carry another device but I happily made this compromise for the extra memory. Also, I have no plans for subscribing to 3G data plans as I always have my iPhone to browse the internet or check emails on the go. I will be using iPad primarily to watch movies or read books while I am out and about. But if your budget permits, its better to have the 3G option.
So there, I have summed up my experience with the iPad 2. Finally, it boils down to
A) Should I get an iPad
B) Should I upgrade to iPad 2
Thoughts on A) The iPad is the best post-PC device and even though there will be quite a few options in the next coming months, I seriously feel that it would be difficult to beat the Design, Operating System or the Multimedia Eco-System that Apple offers. Though they will offer extra connection options or Flash, the iPad will still lead them in terms of functionality and design. (Still deciding whether to get an iPad or not, please read my initial Apple iPad review here)
Thoughts on B) If you already have an iPad, then upgrading it is not actually recommended unless money is not an issue OR you are a huge Apple Fan and do not wish to miss out on the excitement!
Few points, in order of priority that stack up against iPad 1:
2) Dual Cameras
3) Facetime & iMovie
4) Thickness & Weight
5) Smart Covers
6) The white One
If you feel that you will be missing on the above, then rush to your nearby store and see if they have any left. Otherwise, the original iPad is still an amazing device!!