The post-PC planet has been that much more interesting with the entry of iPad. The iPad is an outstanding machine that is great for personal consumption of media of all kinds. Music, video, the Web, applications, email, you name it, and the iPad can access it. How much better can personal technology get?
“NOT SHOCKING, BUT SOLID” is what the analysts have to say about iPad 2, all set to release in the US market as early as March 11, 2011 and March 25, 2011 in the rest of the world, including the UK, Canada and Australia to name a few. With the original iPad gaining great popularity and selling 15 million units as of December, Apple fans are sure that they will enjoy the features of iPad 2 more than they did with the original iPad.
iPad 2 Review
Rumors about iPad 2 started doing the rounds soon after the first generation iPad was launched, and continued till the unveiling by Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs on March 2, 2011, during a special Apple event at San Francisco.
This device clearly matches other second generation Apple products – it’s lighter, faster and thinner and it seems to have just what it takes to keep the competition on its toes. [Fortune]
Availability and Price
Apple says iPad 2 is going to be available in stores by 5 PM on Friday, March 11th and online the same day. You can order it online from Apple.com (but no pre-orders), as well as from Apple, Verizon, AT&T and Best Buy stores initially.
The new iPad will be available in 16, 32 and 64GB WiFi and 3G versions that work on either AT&T or Verizon, but not both. The price point remains the same as the original iPad – $499 for the 16GB WiFi only model.
iPad 2 Features Overview
The iPad 2 being Apple’s worst-kept secret, most details were known to people through leaks and informed speculation. But let’s do an official post-launch iPad 2 review. Apple did not radically change any of the original features, but improved on most features.
Size and Design: Steve Jobs revealed the best feature of iPad 2 – it’s 33% thinner and lighter than the original iPad, making it a visual stunner. Here is the comparison to the original iPad: thickness is 8.8 mm as compared to 13.4 mm of the original iPad, and 1.3 lbs, while the original was 1.5 lbs.
Colors: It is also available in white, as well as the original black color.
Screen: There is no large scale retina display that many hoped for in iPad 2. The 9.7 inches of high-resolution display remains the same. How about the ability to hold it any way you want? This is possible as it uses the IPS (in-plane switching) display technology with 170° viewing angle, and shows everything in both landscape and portrait. The display adjusts to fit even when it is upside down.
Processor: The iPad 2 device comes with the Apple proprietary dual core A5 processor, with 1GHz, that offers a performance boost of up to two times faster. You should know that this A5 chip has the same power consumption as the A4 in the original iPad. The graphics are 9x faster and promise gaming excellence. The gyroscope from the iPhone 4 and iPod touch in this device does help a great deal.
Operating System: The beauty of the fresh mobile operating system software version iOS 4.3 has to be experienced. The AirPlay feature of this OS can be very useful as it allows users to wirelessly stream multimedia content to an HDTV by using an additional Apple TV box. This is not all; the iOS 4.3 version comes with several other features, such as iTunes Home Sharing, Personal Hotspot, and a faster Safari web browser. You will soon be able to download this OS for the original iPad, iPod Touch 3G & 4G, iPhone 3Gs and iPhone 4. But apparently, this download is not for the Verizon iPhone.
Camera: Video conferencing? You’re going to love the dual cameras, which is the only real new hardware feature in this device. The front facing VGA camera is a great addition that was absent in the original iPad. It supports Photo Booth and FaceTime applications. The PhotoBooth app on iPad 2 will let you see 9 video streams all at once, because of the faster processor and graphics. You can even apply lots of fun visual effects to photos taken by either camera. With the FaceTime app, you can call anyone who owns an iPad, iPhone4 and Mac, as long as there is Wi-Fi connectivity. The rear facing camera can record 720p HD video up to 30 frames per second with audio and also supports still camera with 5x digital zoom.
Battery Life: This one comes with the same 10 hour battery life as the original, with a 30 day standby. But it drops to 9 hours when using 3G connectivity. Not all users will be happy that there is no improvement on battery performance, but it is quite impressive considering the smaller size of the device.
RAM? Well, nothing has been said about that at the launch. But, rumor goes that it could be shipped with 512MB of RAM, double that of the original iPad.
Best iPad 2 Apps and Other Accessories Designed For This Device
A very interesting announcement made at the launch was the introduction of two new and perhaps the best iPad apps: iMovie and Garage Band. Priced at $4.99, both look absolutely great, especially Garageband. The iMovie app is said to work only on iPad 2 but the Garageband will work on the original iPad too.
iMovie: This app is for editing your videos the way you want. Any video shot on your device will automatically appear in iMovie. It not only helps with the visual effects but also helps you add ear candy to your videos, with sound effects and sound tracks. Users will also be able to share their videos from within the application with YouTube and other such sites, or even get them published on iTunes.
Garageband: According to Apple, you can be Rock ‘n’ Roll hero even without any experience. The iPad 2 comes with a complete set of touch instruments, ones that emulate guitars, drums, bass, organ and a grand piano. It is possible for users to take advantage of guitar amps and effects in the mobile multi-touch software. Then there are the Smart instruments that can be great for users who just cannot make music. Does an 8-track recording studio sound good? The beauty of this app is the shared compatibility with the Mac version.
Smart Cover: A multi-purpose cover that protects your brand new iPad 2 and can also be used as a stand when watching videos or when typing. It comes in a variety of colors to choose from. This new iPad wakes and sleeps automatically when the Smart Cover is removed or attached. This is a must-buy for iPad 2 buyers, but is definitely not something that is going to interest third party makers of iPad accessories. What does it matter, as long as we’re getting a great new peripheral?
New Dock: This dock is designed specifically for this new device. It is pretty obvious that iPad 2 requires a new dock due to the thinner dimensions.
Own a First-Generation iPad? Get $100 Refund….. but only if….
You bought it in the last two weeks. Apple offers this refund keeping in view that the new iPad 2 has been announced. You can either return your device to Apple, or request a $100 refund. If your purchase of iPad falls within the 14-day return window, you can obviously choose to return the iPad and wait for iPad 2 to go on sale, since the price points remain the same.
iPad Issues Resolved?
Button problem – There are certain issues with the first-generation iPad that we hoped would be taken care of with the iPad 2. Remember the switch on the side that Apple changed from orientation to a mute button? With there already being a volume control on the other side of the device, this wasn’t what people wanted. iOS 4.3 gives customers a choice to use the switch as a mute button or as an orientation lock.
Screen scratch – Those of you who own the original iPad know very well what we’re talking about. Apple brings out Smart Cover, a lightweight display cover that magnetically clings and self-aligns itself to the body of iPad 2. This elegant cover, as mentioned above, comes in a variety of colors.
Adobe Flash Support – With the original iPad one of the major complaints was lack of Adobe Flash Player, but that continues with iPad 2. All others, such as Motorola Xoom, HP Touchpad, BlackBerry PlayBook and the LG G-Slate offer Adobe Flash support. Apple buffs say that this may not sway people’s decision away from this new tablet, as flash is not great on mobile devices anyway and others add it just to get people to buy their devices. Whatever your take on this, if you absolutely need Flash, there seems to be a not-so-perfect but workable solution around this problem, using Skyfire web browser.
Other issues like lack of stylus and the price point may not be major, but people are talking about them. We have believed for long that the future of technology is buttonless, and there rumors that made rounds about Apple iPad 2 being buttonless. We may get to see that in iPad 3.
Apple thinks it has no competition……
Apple says it has revamped the device with exciting new features and announced that iPad 2 is ready to compete with rival “copy cats” like Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, HP TouchPad, RIM PlayBook and others. Steve Jobs keynote says, “While others have been scrambling to copy the first generation iPad, we’re launching iPad 2, which moves the bar far ahead of the competition and will likely cause them to go back to the drawing boards yet again.”
Having discussed everything that iPad 2 brings with it in this iPad 2 review, we have to understand that there are many with the opinion that Apple may not really be delivering any “magic” with this one. The original iPad had a wow factor because it was the only tablet worth talking about at the time of its launch. But now, there is so much competition with feature-packed devices already in the market or in the works. The iPad 2 is definitely not the only option anymore. Apple has a great offering in the form of iPad 2 and they may be in the lead too, but it is left to be seen if Steve Jobs’ prophecy of 2011 being the year of the iPad 2 will ring true.