Apple also released two iPad 2–only goodies, and both pack impressive powers.
Apple’s Digital AV Adapter provides video output from your iPad 2 in 1080p—although movies still play at 720p. But it works with any app, mirroring the display to your TV, projector, or other HDMI device. (Bring your own HDMI cable, of course.) It’s even got a 30-pin dock port so you can charge or sync your iPad while it’s connected to the TV. Bonus: it works with the first iPad (running iOS 4.3), the iPhone 4, and the fourth-gen iPod touch, although those devices all top out at 720p output. It delivers audio too! With this $39 dongle, you can “sneakernet” videos from your Mac to your TV via the iPad, instead of needing a $99 Apple TV. Smart.
Apple’s Smart Cover could just as easily have been called the Brilliant Cover. It’s that cool. Its hinged magnet snaps on to the front of the iPad 2, held in place and auto-aligned by magnets inside the iPad 2’s case. (So no, it doesn’t work with the iPad 1.) When closed, another magnet keeps your iPad’s display asleep, and then it wakes automatically when you open it. And it can fold back (again, thanks to magnets) to act as a stand, holding it at a low angle for keyboarding or a higher angle for watching videos. It’s more stable in landscape than in portrait mode, though. The microfiber lining is soft against the screen, but the case offers no protection for the back of the iPad. The polyurethane colors ($39 each) are lovely, and the leather options ($69) are more earthy but sure do smell nice. Compared to last year’s cruddy Apple iPad Case, the Smart Cover deserves an A+.
The iPad 2’s snazzy new Smart Covers aren’t held in place by any kind of hardware connector or even by magic—each Smart Cover has magnets in the hinge that cling to magnets inside the iPad 2’s case, along the left side. This lets the Smart Cover “auto-align” itself and snap in with a satisfying click. Another magnet in the iPad 2’s right side joins a magnet on the Smart Cover’s right side to automatically sleep the display when you close the Smart Cover and wake it up again when you pull the cover back.
Those magnets work as advertised…with a couple funny bonus tricks too. The Smart Cover, for example, sticks to your fridge. Slap it up there, and it stays put—you can even hang a piece of paper or two that way if you’re feeling saucy. The iPad 2, however, does not, and that’s a good thing since it does weigh 1.3 pounds—even if it did stick, it’d surely fall down and break.
Fridge magnets sort of stick to the iPad 2, but they’re also pushed away from it in spots. So if you’re trying to bling out an iPad 2 with alphabet magnets, you might not be able to spell your whole name, which would be a real shame. You can use a magnet to sleep the display if you hold it over the iPad 2’s right side about a third of the way from the top, although it wakes up again as soon as you move the magnet away since it thinks that magnet is the one in the Smart Cover. And the iPad 2’s magnets can pick up paper clips! They jump right on there—we got 42 of the standard small paper clips to stick to its face, giving it a silly metallic beard. So you’ll probably want to reconsider storing your new iPad in your dedicated paper-clip drawer.
On a more serious note, the magnets inside the iPad 2 don’t seem to be terribly strong. We stored it in a laptop bag with a MacBook Pro with no damage to the Mac’s hard drive—only very, very strong magnets can wipe data from a hard drive. We also tried to demagnetize a credit card and a subway ticket, and both of them were fine. We asked Apple about its testing procedures for making sure the magnets are safe, but it wouldn’t reveal any details. Still, don’t worry; the iPad 2’s magnets shouldn’t harm anything.