Despite its perceived faults, even critics would grudgingly admit that the first iPad was a revolutionary device.
After all, it practically gave birth to the consumer tablet segment (note I said “consumer” tablet; after all, more PC-like tablets did exist before).
With that in mind, Apple’s iPad 2 will have a pretty large hurdle to clear if it wants to match the impact of its predecessor. Let’s take a bite at the latest tablet to fall from Apple’s tree, shall we?
Battery life: Like a slim and sleek triathlon, endurance continues to be a strong point for Apple’s second iPad, which manages to churn out about 10 hours of battery life despite the new dual processor. I was also able to squeeze out about seven hours of online gameplay with the device using Wi-Fi while playing Pocket Legends. Charging time is a bit long, though, at more than 4 hours.
Tons of apps: App selection is another feather in the iPad 2’s cap, thanks to a more developed app store compared to its rivals. Besides the many iPhone and iPod Touch apps, Apple’s app store also has more iPad native apps compared to Google’s Android Honeycomb.
All slimmed up: The iPad 2 sports a slimmer profile than its suddenly chunky-looking predecessor. The difference is actually quite impressive when both are compared side by side. Besides making the tablet easier to handle, the reduced weight also means folks with weak biceps won’t feel sore quite as fast.
It’s fast: That dual-core processor comes with some extra benefits, a key one being faster speed compared to the first iPad. Apps run smoothly and quickly. Web pages also load nice and quick, provided you have a good connection or the iPad Wi-Fi isn’t acting app, er, up. (More on this later.)
Streaming content: AirPlay allows you to stream media to other devices such as a widescreen TV. There’s also AirPrint, which lets you print from your iPad to a compatible printer. Otherwise, you can also use alternatives such as Print N Share. As for Air Supply (snicker), well, you can always transfer that via iTunes.
Dual cameras: The addition of front and rear cameras add some extra utility to the iPad 2. The ability to shoot photos and video means that you can now attract quizzical looks from bystanders wondering what the heck you’re doing with that slab in your hands. The addition of a front-facing camera is especially welcome for someone like me who video chats a lot and is also able to exercise good judgment — at least most of the time (no drunk videochatting for me). While FaceTime is limited to “i” devices, you can also use Skype to chat with folks using other devices such as a PC.
Media editing: Folks who download the GarageBand and iMovie apps will be able to create horrible tunes and horrible movies with the iPad 2. That is, unless you have talent and are actually able to create good tunes and good movies. If so, I hate your guts. Do note that these are apps you need to pay for, which should be no problem since Apple device owners supposedly aren’t as cheap as Android users. Hey, since I use both Apple and Android devices, does that mean I’m a cheap snob with money? I feel so conflicted...
Needs iTunes to set up: Unlike Motorola’s Xoom, which I was able to set up and use without ever connecting it to a computer, you’re gonna need to sync your iPad 2 to iTunes if you want to set it up or even just use it. I find that annoyingly restrictive for some reason. Make sure you also keep that in mind if you’re giving one to grandma primarily as an Internet browser and grandma doesn’t happen to have a computer. UPDATE: This issue was fixed in iOS5.
No standard slots or connectors: With the exception of the headphone slot, you ain’t gonna find any standard connectors on the iPad 2. That means no microSD, no microUSB and no microHDMI. You can get adapters that work with the proprietary connector at the bottom. But you’ll have to fork over more extra dough to Apple, which my cheap Android-using half finds to be a bummer.
No Flash: I don’t want to beat on a dead horse. But this is one horsey that needs to be whipped. HTML 5 may be the future. But Flash is still a big part of the present and I’d really like to be able to fully enjoy my Interwebs right now.
Limited video formats: While it’s easy to download movies into the iPad 2, folks who use video formats such as AVI or MKV will need to convert their files — something my Android-using half doesn’t need to do.
Underpowered cameras: While it’s nice to have dual cameras and all, they are kinda underpowered, even by mobile device standards.
Not 4G capable: Like HTML 5, 4G is also the future (the near future in fact). But this is one future that Apple is declining to support now for some reason, even as some of its key competitors do. If you want wireless anywhere you go, 3G is your only option (provided you got a 3G iPad 2).
Wi-Fi issues: I initially had issues with Wi-Fi dropping off intermittently, which doesn't happen to my other Wi-Fi devices. This is apparently an issue some folks experience with their iPad. Fortunately, a simple reset fixed mine.
Although the iPad 2 is more evolutionary than revolutionary, it's still a very solid tablet with plenty of good features.
As good as it is, though, it's simply maddening how the iPad 2 could be so much better if Apple only implemented a few changes that frankly aren't that hard to do.
Still, it's definitely one of the best tablets out there for folks looking for an easy-to-use consumer tablet.
Rating: 4 stars