The first generation Apple iPad was a huge success and got one of the thrones for the best selling gadgets of the decade. Without a doubt, it truly changed the game, molded a new ecosystem of competition and gave (once again) the word ‘tablet’ more sense. This time, Apple has done it again with their follow up to the 1st iPad, the iPad 2.
The iPad 2 was a no-show during Consumer Electronics Show 2011 in Las Vegas. During the said event, the Motorola Xoom stole the eyes of the press and got the Best in Show. Little did Motorola know that while they rejoice for their temporal triumph, Apple was getting ready to pilfer the attention of everybody. 3 months after the said show, the iPad 2 was announced and eventually got the interest of many, including myself.
The iPad 2 will be officially available tomorrow at Authorized Resellers nationwide. But before you get yourself an iPad 2, you might want to check my short review.
Being sexy means everything
I loved the design of the first iPad. It was the sexiest tablet until I got my iPad 2. Apple may have retained its screen size (which I think is great idea), but its thinner body contributed much to its overall appeal. Note that the iPad 2 is thinner by 4.6mm and lighter by 80 grams. Now, it is even easier to read with only one hand while lying down.
The only drawback of its thinner build is that it seemingly makes the iPad 2 look frail. It is as if one single drop could break it into pieces. Amazingly, the iPad 2 is one robust device – a 1-foot drop will definitely leave a dent but you are sure that your device would still work efficiently.
What’s even more amazing is its Gorilla Glass IPS (in-plane switching) display. Not only that the iPad 2 produces more vivid images and super clear text, but it can also withstand bumps and light scratches. Thankfully, Apple has developed a product that can protect the screen even better – Smart Covers.
The aluminum back bezel of the iPad 2, similar to its predecessor, is quite a problem. Yes, it can take a bit of physical abuse but you have to be careful putting the iPad on its back on rough surfaces.
Apple retained as well the location of most physical buttons. The Home Button, as usual, is the physical button infront of the device. The left side of the device doesn’t have any button just like the first iPad. Apple likely intended to do this as they reserved the left side for the Smart Cover. The Orientation Lock/Mute switch and volume rockers rest conveniently on the right side of the device. Meanwhile, the 30-pin connect socket and the mono speakers are at the bottom of the device. The Sleep/Wake button is placed on top-right corner of the device while the standard 3.5-mm stereo headphone minijack sits on the top-left corner. If you used an iPad 1 before, you probably noticed that the mic is missing beside the headphone jack. This time, the mic is placed at the top-middle bezel of the device.
The great additions to this new model are its cameras. The iPad 2 has VGA front-facing camera and a 2 megapixel back facing camera. Its megapixels may not be that high compared to the Motorola Xoom, but they are fully functional and helpful. The cameras made FaceTime possible and provided means for its users to be more creative and productive using the native Camera applications available in the AppStore.
Meet the Apple A5 Processor
This may sound geeky but the real deal in this new tablet is its custom-made Apple A5 processor. Clocked at 1Ghz, this teeny weeny chip is the one responsible in making this device perform so fast. Apple claims that with this new processor, the iPad 2 is twice as powerful and efficient as its predecessor. I can feel the speed while swiping from left to right. Opening and closing applications is snappy; and multitasking through state-paused applications performs gracefully. It’s seriously fast.
The iPad 2’s processor may have been the one responsible for its efficient performance but performance is nil without user interface. The iPad’s operating system, the iOS (iPhone OS), contributes to the rich experience the device gives. Just like its predecessor, the iOS in iPad 2 created the real tablet experience, thanks to its haptic or tactile features, magnificently sized screen and over 300,000 native applications. Suddenly, the iPad 2 became a household name, the word ‘tablet’ became synonymous to ‘trending’ and netbooks became almost extinct.
Amidst the onslaught of tablets from Galaxy Tab to Motorola Xoom, A-Pad to PLDT Telpad, the iPad 2, for me, is still the King of all tablets. It may not be any more a game changer (because its predecessor already took that place), but it has defined another ecosystem that would improve the tablet industry competition. Such competition, in the end, would benefit none other than us, consumers.
Take note though that while I enjoy the iPad 2, I also share a bit disappointments:
1. It is way too dependent to the iTunes. Unlike in the Android OS, I don’t have the capability to transfer applications and media files via USB. If I don’t have a Mac/PC, there’s no way for me to upload my movie backups to my iPad without using iTunes.
2. The iPad 2 is not yet “jailbreakable”. Comex hasn’t released the official Jailbreak solution for the iPad 2. I really miss installing cool themes to the iPad, which I did in my first iPad.
3. Accessories are expensive. Yes, I succumbed to the temptation of getting a PhP3,000+ worth of accessory that only covers the entire screen of the device, the Smart Cover. The official Apple HDMI adapter for iPad costs not less Php1,800. Other 3rd party accessories are priced PhP1,500 to even up to PhP6,000. Had I bought a Motorola Xoom wifi, I would have saved PhP4,000.
4. I mentioned that the iOS is great software and provides a rich tablet experience. But come to think of it, its OS interface looks identical to my iPhone 4’s. If I were Steve Jobs, I would insist to my software engineers to include widgets and other functions that may very well fit to the iPad’s OS, thereby further enriching the tablet experience.
5. It doesn’t have true multitasking. True multitasking happens when the user switches from one running application – say movie playback application – to another, the switch would not pause the first application but would let it run in the background. “Running in the background” is the true definition of multitasking. The iOS’ multitasking doesn’t do this but it rather pauses the first application and switches to the next application. Why is this an issue for me? It’s more like a technical issue. Don’t mind me. I’m just ranting.
*UPDATE: Demo of the iOS will be uploaded soon
Giancarlo Viterbo is a Filipino Technology Journalist, blogger and Editor of gadgetpilipinas.net, He is also a Geek, Dad and a Husband. He knows a lot about washing the dishes, doing some errands and following instructions from his boss on his day job. Follow him on twitter: @gianviterbo and @gadgetpilipinas.