Saturday, May 14, 2011

iPad 2 Review

Comparison between the iPad and iPod Touch's K...Image via Wikipedia
My wife and I ordered an iPad 2 in early April from the Apple online store. It arrived just a few days before the end of May. Lead times have come down considerably since then. We went for the base model, 16G of storage and WiFi only. My Droid X has wireless hotspot functionality so getting on the Internet from the base iPad 2 isn't a big deal. Avoiding the temptation to get a data plan also significantly lowers the cost of the iPad over and above the non trivial savings of not paying for the 3G version.

After a couple of weeks of use we're both very impressed. My wife has owned a couple of generations of the iPod Touch, including the latest version. The iPad is in many respects just a much bigger iPod Touch. This isn't a bad thing. Small highly functional devices that fit in your pocket are great to have around but there are just times when having more screen real estate is essential.

I wouldn't try to make a BLOG post on an iPod Touch, but it is easy to do with the iPad 2. In fact I'm typing this review using a Bluetooth keyboard attached to the iPad on the Safari browser. I wouldn't want to go much smaller than this, but I don't feel like the quality of this experience is being seriously compromised. As I noted with my fanciful iKey product idea in a previous post, an iPad sized device with a detachable keyboard is a potentially compelling product offering. You could argue that we already went through that with the Net-book but I think there's a significant difference wether Apple made such a device or somebody else. A Net-book doesn't fit comfortably in a purse or small piece of luggage.

Getting back to the iPad 2, a lot has already been written. We didn't own the first generation so I can't do a detailed comparison. I will say that the second generation iPad just seems a bit more finished and refined than the original. This is fairly typical of Apple's approach. Nobody does design better and constant refinement is a given. This isn't to say that Apple has never made mistakes in this area. I'm not a fan of the iPhone 4's aesthetic. It is boxy and kind of ugly compared to the 3G & 3GS. The iPad 2 is much closer to the older iPhones in looks which probably explains why I like it.

We've done a bit of web browsing but the primary use so far has been games. Plants versus Zombies is a lot of fun and the iPad two is a great crossword puzzle conduit.

Battery life has been very good. We haven't done any formal tests but for normal use we seem to do fine if we remember to plug it in couple of days. It doesn't have anything close to the Kindle's longevity in this area but it's a much more capable device.

Speaking of the Kindle, the iPad 2 is not an eBook reader. At least not for me. The Kindle is very easy on the eyes. I can read for hours with little or no fatigue. This is not true of the iPad 2. I spend a lot of time staring and LCD displays and seldom have a problem. For some reason though reading on the iPad 2 is not a pleasant experience. I'll concede that some of that could be purely psychological but I don't think all of it is. I tend to suspect that people who claim the iPad is a replacement for the Kindle and other E-Ink readers haven't actually spent much time with the competition.

I wasn't willing to commit $500 to the first generation iPad. There just wasn't enough functionality there for me. Apple made enough improvements to the iPad 2 that it was an easy choice. Doubling the memory, doubling the CPU and significantly improving the graphics performance while achieving the same price point was a job well done.

I wasn't able to completely finish this entry on the iPad since some of the BLOGGER tools I use don't quite work perfectly with the iPad Safari. This isn't a huge deal and I'd grit my teeth and post if I didn't have the option of doing some polishing on my Laptop.

So, in brief summary it's a very nice product and we certainly have no regrets about the purchase. It provides more than enough utility/value to justify the expenditure.

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