Wednesday, March 16, 2011

iPad 2 Review: The Truth about the Tablet

If you were anywhere near an Apple Store on Friday, March 11, 2011 you would have found a line. The lines varied in when they got started, how long they stretched and how organized they were. I was at the Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, MI from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and at least 1000 people or more when through that store and hundreds more showed up, but decided they weren't crazy enough to stand in the line and left. The bottom line is clear, the iPad 2 is hot! There are two main camps of people interested in the iPad 2, the current iPad owners and the rest of you (those that held out on the first one or those that considering the iPad for the first time).

For the latter group, the iPad 2 is a no brainer. If you doubted there was a place in your life for a tablet computer, you now know that is not the case. The iPad will get the most use of any computer device in your home. If you get a 3G version , you will find that it used a whole lot outside the home as well. The reality is that we are in a post PC era, as Steve Jobs stated in the March 2, 2011 iPad 2 event. The reality is that Smartphones are extremely popular and people are doing the following things on the go: managing their email, reviewing Office documents, managing their music library, viewing and sharing photos and even watching movies from the disk and/or steaming them.

These tasks used to be exclusive to a PC (desktop or laptop) just a few months to a fewer years ago for most people. Yes, the PDA or Palm Pilots allowed some of these tasks in the past, but in a much limited way. In order to get the data, the device was required to be linked to a PC to get most of of the data. On top of that, the screen was tiny. Smartphones allow more direct access to the content and a slightly bigger screen. Tablets bring more functionality and more importantly, a huge screen. If you like what your Smartphone can do, you will love what the tablet can do. Apple and its iPad has done a fantastic job with this medium.

For the first group, for which I am a part of, it is a little more difficult to call. If you have the original iPad, and it has been hijacked by a spouse, child or other family member (and money is not an obstacle); go ahead and order the iPad 2 online and get it over with. You don't have to go from store to store looking for the iPad 2, like looking for the last set of batteries for sale in a blackout. You know how fantastic the first iPad is, now you can let them have the old one and you can now get your own again. Since you can still retain your iPad 1, you can continue business as usual until the iPad 2 arrives. The changes added to the iPad are significant enough to justify the addition to the family. The thinner, lighter and faster iPad 2 looks amazing and performs significantly better than its predecessor. The original iPad is a great device too, so I am not upgrading to the iPad 2; unless my boss gets us one. If you just have to have it and can give yours away or sell it for a good price, then go for it.

New iPad Features

Front-facing and rear-facing cameras: I thought the cameras should have been part of the original iPad, but that's what Apple does. They rope in the early adopters, and they leave out key features, making savvy Apple customers wait a year for the good stuff. My generation iPod Touch is a past example of this truth. The camera adds an element to the device that some might take for granted, but over the next few months the developers will show how powerful these cameras are on a tablet computer. People have dismissed the cameras because of the lower resolution lenses; however, time will show just how useful they can be.

FaceTime: Now, with front and rear cameras, you can FaceTime on the iPad. This completes the sweep of Apple products, so now you can FaceTime on all major Apple devices.Gyroscope: Apple first rolled out this cool little feature with the iPhone 3GS. It basically adds an extra dimension to the motion that the device detects, so all of the cool games that so accurately pick up every move that an iPhone makes will be available to the iPad 2.

Color Choice: The outside bezel is now available in classic Apple white and the same black available to the original iPad.Size: The iPad 2 is a lot thinner, now just 8.8-mm thin, compared to 13.44 mm in the first generation iPad. It's thinner than the iPhone 4. The iPad 2 also weighs just 1.3 pounds, 0.2 pounds less than the original. The 30% difference in the thickness of the iPad 2 is evident the moment you hold the iPad 2 in your hand.

Carrier Choice: There are now 3G versions of the iPad 2 that will work on both AT&T and Verizon; though you'll need a choose a separate model for either GSM or CDMA. A single iPad 2 will not work on both networks. On Friday, March 11, 2011, my local Apple Retail store ran out of certain AT&T 3G models and customers purchased a Verizon 3G without missing a beat. Device loyalty is stronger than carrier loyalty; therefore the customer now has more choices. This is a win for the customer as well as Apple, so hopefully it opens the door for additional carriers like Sprint and T-Mobile to get the iPad.

Faster processor: The iPad 2 has a dual core A5 processor chip, a proprietary chip designed and developed by Apple. Processor speed is crucial for the ever increasing new applications that will require a faster processor to handle the processes. The iMovie and GarageBand apps are perfect examples, while both work on the iPad 1 (though the iMovie doesn't allow the camera functions on the iPad 1), they work a whole lot slower on the iPad 1. They fly on then iPad 2. Even existing games for the iPad 1, like the Back to the Future game has it stutters a few times on the iPad 1. I can't wait to see it run on the iPad 2!

HDMI out: The iPad 2 will connect to high-definition displays via a $39 HDMI-out cable, which will transfer video (up to 1080p) from your iPad to, for example, your HD TV. The connector has a split adapter so the standard iPad charging cable can be plugged in to allow the iPad 2 to charge while it is displaying your content. This is a huge upgrade because now you can put your iPad on a stand next to your HD TV and watch HULU Plus, Netflix, and HD movies from it. Additionally, it will mirror out everything that is displayed on your iPad 2, so teachers, instructor, persevered and the average Joe can display everything on their iPad to huge screen.$39, but it's the only way for Apple to stick to its design philosophy and keep the iPad razor thin. And I never hear anyone complain about how the iPad looks.

What's Still Missing?

A sharper hi-res screen: When the iPhone 4 debuted with the Retina display, it was one of the "shining" moments for the product. Apple hasn't decided to bring it to the iPad yet, probably due to cost.

Camera flash: Unlike the iPhone 4, the iPad 2 lacks flash capability for the cameras. This isn't a big deal in the daytime or if you're outside, but if the lighting is poor or you're out at night, this can be a major inconvenience.

Hi-Res Camera: The moments you capture on your iPad 2 and share with friends and family will be priceless at any resolution; however, the future camera can only get better from where these camera start. A low res captured memory is always bettermthan a hi-quality memory that was never captured at all.

Additional Memory: The memory choices remained at 16GB, 32GB and 64GB. The 16GB should have dropped off and the 128GB should have become the top choice. As the iPad matures it moves rapidly from a consumer consumption device to a content creation device. Apple's own addition of the cameras to the device will result in more storage being consumed as people take pictures and video and save them directly to the device. Apple two new $4.99 apps, iMovie and GarageBand will result in yet more storage being used that wouldn't have been used on the first iPad.

Stereo Sound: If you have not seen the internal pictures of the iPad 2, you should do so. Tiny speaker assembly seems ridiculous in this beautiful device. iFixit.com called the iPad 2's speakers "an afterthought", and I couldn't agree more. It appears that Apple designers and engineers are so use to dealing with use headphone jacks that they are totally out of water with designing external speakers in their mobile devices. With that said, I am pretty sure the Mac Air has better speakers and it is very similar is size (but not cost), so we know they know how. The future iPad will have better speakers and most likely stereo speakers.

The Verdict

If you've been in the market for a tablet or a laptop replacement and you have the extra money already set aside, then now is the time to jump on the iPad 2. The next iPad will surely get better, but just as the original iPad is still a great buy; so will your iPad 2 be when the next one is launched. I foresee the iPad 3 having more iOS features and possibly a better looking screen, larger storage and better cameras, but that's not something you'll be mad about not having. I have the original iPad and this Apple iPad 2, with its slimmer and lighter shell, faster core, the two new cameras and the HDMI hookup, is tempting to grab. I've had it for almost a year and it has served me well. I want the extras, but it won't kill me to not have them. I would be pretty upset if had only owned it for a month or so.

The rule of thumb with the Apple is to always wait until the second version comes out. The original iPhone was basic, but the 3G was a great improvement. The 3Gs and iPhone 4 had night and day in differences to each other. The original iPod Touch came before the App store evolved, so it wasn't ready for prime time either. It was simply an iPod and not yet a gaming machine, so it lacked a external speaker. The future models improved drastically from generation 1 to generation 4, with the 4th having the camera the 1st should have had. The 1st iPod Touch also lacked Bluetooth, which was a common technology at the time. The same applied to iPhone and the same will hold to true with the iPad. Ask the owners of either product about whether they would have skipped a model and many would havw say yes. ask them if they enjoyed the device when they had it and the answer will also be yes. The future products will always be better, but it doesn't mean that the current one is not worth having.

You may want to buy an iPad because you can foresee it helping you be more productive and get more done on the go. Or you may be interested in replacing a dying desktop or laptop with an iPad. Before the iPad, the only options you would have considered was another desktop, laptop or netbook. Now the iPad is a viable option for a primary computer (you laptop or desktop will become a secondary device). You still need it, but not all the time. Think of your traditional computer as the carpet cleaner that comes out for a thorough cleaning, but takes the back seat to the regular vaccum cleaner.

Probably the greatest savior of the iPad 2 is the price. Apple didn't increase the price, so the extras the iPad 2 provides is pure icing on the cake. Clearly many of us had no problem paying $499 to $829 for the original iPad, so whatever you get with the iPad 2 is well worth the same money. So with everything said, the iPad is worth buying. So if you've been saving for a tablet, I'm giving you the green light on the iPad 2.

It is a new concept that serves a very familiar needs: email management, web surfing, picture taking and sharing, video recording and editing, music consumption and creation, document management, video and movie watching, social media and video communications, game playing and entertainment and a whole lot more.

But it also fills a natural void in your computer experiences that you may have never knew existed. You may owned a computer in the past, but the addition of a on device App store changes your computing experience forever. See with your prior computers, you may have added a couple of applications to handle certain tasks: music sharing, DVD burning, tax preparation, audio or video editing, Office apps and maybe just a few more. Most people added these common and well known software packages, but that was all. Most people didn't know about many other software packages and if they were told, most wouldn't have known where to get them. In addition, even if they found out about one, they were often very expenses for the most part and didn't know if they could trust giving their credit card to the web site. Now these people have access to huge selection of apps that they immediately know where to get them from and can easily afford them (without pulling out their credit card to do so). Take a trip to a local Apple Retail store (or select retailers like Best Buy, Target, Walmart) and take a look at the iPad for yourself. You really have to use it to understand just how amazing it is.

Thanks,

Carl W. Brooks

iAmThereforeiPad, Founder and Chief EditoriPad News, Reviews and How-To-Dos.
We help make your iPad experience Magical through information!

http://www.iamthereforeipad.com




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