Like we said, the iPad 2 is one slim sexy slab of computing awesomeness. Most of the tech press has yawned at the iPad 2 because it doesn’t seem like there’s a ton of new features. But it’s the small changes — the thinness, the speed, the cameras – -that make all the difference. The iPad 2 is the tablet done right — finally.
For regular consumers, the iPad 2 is irresistible. Look around: the whole world is going iPad bonkers. Did you see the lines at the stores yesterday? There was nowhere near enough stock. A lot of people went home disappointed. And that was just the early adopters. There’s a lot of mainstream consumers lusting for the iPad 2. For weeks, I’ve been taking calls from friends and family of all ages and walks of life, from kids to grandparents. There’s a ton of non-nerds planning to get an iPad in coming months.
Are they right? Is this the iPad to get? What about the rumored iPad 3 in the fall? Should you wait?
Heck no! Take the plunge with the iPad 2. Read on for the details:
Apple has summarized the iPad 2 in six short phrases. “Thinner. Lighter. Faster. FaceTime. Smart Covers. 10-hour battery.”
Actually, the 10-hour battery is the same as before, but the other changes that make all the difference.
The iPad 2 is impossibly thin. Seen the iPod touch lately? It’s like that: wafer thin, as Monty Python would say. But it’s not flimsy or fragile. It has pretty good heft.
Despite being significantly thinner, the iPad 2 is only slightly lighter than its predecessor. It weighs in at about 1.3lbs, which is 15% lighter than the first iPad. It may not seem like a lot, but combined with the thinner profile, the new iPad feels a lot svelter.
Speed was never really an issue on the first iPad, but the iPad 2 is lickety-split. Everything launches in an instant. It turns on in a flash; apps launch in a flash. There are no jitters or delays when scrolling through windows or long documents.
The cameras are the big new hardware feature, and really should have been included in the first iPad. Still, they’re here now, and they’re a trip to use.
The kids pounced immediately on the camera applications: PhotoBooth and FaceTime. The kids love playing with PhotoBooth effects on our MacBooks and iMacs, but the iPad is great for these applications: it’s lighter and more portable.
The Camera app is like the world’s largest point-and-shoot. The screen is so big, it magnifies the scene to surreal proportions.
Unfortunately, the cameras are pretty crappy, especially in low light. The iPad won’t be replacing your digital camera. But for practical purposes — FaceTiming with relatives, shooting the cat for a YouTube funny — they are perfectly adequate.
The smart cover is the perfect accessory for the iPad 2. It snaps on magnetically in the most delightful way. You spend the first five minutes snapping it on and off, and the next five minutes lifting and closing the cover to wake the iPad and put it back to sleep. It protects the screen but adds no bulk. The case manufacturers would be out of business overnight if it also protected the back.
The cameras aren’t very good. It’s a shame that Apple couldn’t have included a sensor as good as the one in the iPhone 4, but perhaps that’s being saved for the iPad 3. But the cameras are serviceable.
The speaker is mono and not very powerful. In fact, it sounds like a downgrade from the first iPad. Compared side-to-side, the first iPad seems to have a stronger, louder speaker. It’s pretty close though, so it’s not worth making a fuss about. In a quiet environment, the speaker is more than adequate. Check out this short clip of the Barber of Seville:
What counts are not the hardware specs, but the integration of the hardware with the software, and the experience of using the device through some pretty wonderful software. Using the iPad as a personal computing device is about as seamless as it gets.
There’s no computing per se. No cumbersome registration process, no tedious software installtion ordeal. Turn it on, and you’re ready to go.
Better yet, the cameras, the touchscreen, the gyroscope are beginning to be put in the service of some pretty amazing software. In Garageband, the virtual piano can tell how hard you hit the virtual keys. In Nova 2, a first-person-shooter, you can swivel the iPad around to look behind you.
In coming months, developers are going to harness the iPad 2′s speed, graphic capabilities and sensors to produce some really amazing software: stuff we’ve never dreamed of before.
Should you wait for the iPad 3, which may or may not appear in the fall? No way – join the party now.