iPad 2: a cheap and cheerful review

If you’re not aware, Apple now has a nifty process by which you can–if you’re a nimble typer and refresh your browser quickly–reserve one in the evening and pick it up the next day. I missed out on the first two days but managed to book a 64GB with 3G out of Vancouver’s Oakridge Apple store. Here’s the link; follow the instructions on the page. The next day I rocked up to the store, no queue, in and out in 10 minutes. Then I had to cancel the online order that wasn’t gonna ship for another 4 weeks. 😉

I’ve had my new iPad 2 for about a week now. I can’t claim it’s the tranformative device that its predecessor seemed to be. There are a number of improvements that inspired me to upgrade–each of which addressed concerns I had with my first iPad:

No video: I rely on Skype for communication when I’m travelling. On my last business trip the only thing I was using my laptop for was Skype. Yes it worked fine with audio…but Skype is such a better experience when you can see and hear the other person.

Application crashes: I often and cutting-and-pasting between apps online (browsers, translation apps, chat). The more I pushed my old iPad the more app crashes I experienced.

Speed with digital images: when rendering images on the previous iPad things slowed down a fair bit. Editing video wasn’t really worth the trouble on it either, since the device didn’t capture video via its own camera.

Size: like anything else truly innovative, I had no issues with the size and weight of my original iPad…until I picked up an iPad 2. It feel less bulky.

Performance: still images

Here’s two photos I grabbed with the back-facing (towards the user) internal cam:

Neither is a work of art. In the first you can see that the camera (and Photobooth app) have some problems with white balance. In the second you can see I’m out of mind…and that the tones aren’t well balanced at times either. But I would also argue that anyone who buys an iPad expecting to be a great camera hasn’t though things through: it’s unwieldy, and there’s no way to stabilize it via a tripod, for example.

Performance – video

Here’s a wee movie I shot and “edited” using iMovie on the iPad 2:

YouTube Preview Image

Again, it does a decent job, rather than a spectacular one. However the scope for this to be fun is pretty high–and iMovie ran zippily along on the new iPad.

The video performance in Skype is great! My only complaint is that you cannot use the text chat as the same time as video or audio calls. I’ve a lot of friends for whom English is a second (or fourth) language; my French also has a number of black holes in it, vocabularly-wise. So being able to type the odd word is very useful. Hopefully the folks at Skype will address this soon!

ça ménarve (that’s annoying)

Of course, my old iPad’s case is useless now: the new one is thinner so it won’t stay in the clips. And the old case blocks both cameras. I bought a couple of the new smart covers–very interesting in how they use multiple magnets to sleep/wake up the device by closing/opening the cover. But even this cover blocks the forward facing camera when opened–a hole for this cam is an oversight.  And the smart covers don’t protect the back of the device. So far the offerings for iPad 2 covers in Vancouver are meagre…but I shall keep looking.

Overall: 1.5 thumbs up

Am I happy I upgraded? For sure–and for the reasons outlined above. But for lots of folks with v1 iPads the benefits of upgrading might not be worth it.

Have you upgraded? Bought your first iPad? Why or why not?

About John P Egan

Learning technology professional.
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