iPad 2 Review
The second coming of Apple’s tablet, the iPad, has finally hit Australian shores, and I’m here of course with the review for you guys. Incase you missed some of our other covereage, here’s a link to the liveblog of the lineup, and one with some first impressions and photos from the event. But now, on with the review!
The iPad is said to have been one of the most influential and successful pieces of technology ever, but the question is now, how much will the iPad 2 push this landmark of computer engineering, and how much more of a success can the iPad 2 be? I’m going to break this review down a bit, so let’s get into it a bit more.
What strikes you first with the iPad 2 is just how thin it is. It truly is astonoshing. The first time you pick it up, it feels like your actually holding a totally different device compared to the first iPad. The new design is greatly appreciated, and in my opinion makes the device seem a whole lot more professional than it did before. The screen is the same they used in the original iPad, however in my opinion, looks a bit more vivid and bright. Maybe that’s just me, but the colours seem to stand out more, and it seems to me to be more vibrant than the old one. The iPad 2 has lost the side edge it’s predecesor had, meaning the headphone jack and 30 pin dock connector are on quite an angle just like the new iPod touch. This is good in the sense that it eliminates the edge running around the device, and makes it a whole lot thinner, however it does make the dock connector cable a little hard to put in properly compared to the old one. The volume rocker, side switch and sleep/wake button however all feel much more solid and sturdy, I think mainly because they stick out from the device a little more than the old one. Turning up and down the volume feels almost like your putting your fingers behind the glass, rather than on the side of the iPad like last time.
Now for some under the hood stuff. The iPad 2 is blazingly fast compared to the first one. Applications open almost instantly, even the ones that aren’t already opened in multi-tasking. I find myself being unable to tell the difference between open applications, and ones that I haven’t used for ages. This is all because of the new processor Apple has included in the iPad 2, the dual core A5. The all round responsiveness of the device is up too, I find hardly any applications crashing, or becoming too slow to use. When Apple claimed that the A5 could handle graphics 9X faster, I was a bit sceptical. I thought that it sure would be faster, but would it be 9X faster? After playing some N.O.V.A. 2 and other graphics heavy games for a while, I’m starting to notice the speed Apple was talking about. It’s definitely a lot faster, possibly it is 9X faster, but I guess it’s hard to tell exactly just how much faster it is going just by your own judgement. The extra ram that was discovered inside the iPad 2 is also definetly well welcomed, and plays a key roll in keeping applications open longer, and running faster. The Gyroscope is cool, much like it is on the iPhone 4, but there’s not much to say there.
Let’s talk cameras now. The camera’s in the iPad 2 were to be quite honest, disappointing. I think they definitely should have put in the same rear camera as they did on the iPhone 4, because if they managed to fit it in the iPhone 4, then they definitely should have been able to fit it in the iPad 2. The forward facing camera is what you’d expect, nothing too bad, yet nothing to spectacular. It is designed for video calling though, so it’s pretty alright for that. Even there though, it would have been very cool to see the same HD forward facing camera as Apple included in their latest iteration of the Macbook Pro, but that’s hardly the most disastrous exclusion of a feature in the world. After saying that however, how often are you going to hold up your 10″ iPad to take a photo of something really important? You probably won’t.
Appart from my gripes with the cameras, the hardware with the iPad 2 is all round pretty great. The speakers sound good, the screen looks good, the new design looks great and the new A5 processor preforms brilliantly with the rest of the machine.
There’s not a whole lot of new stuff to talk about with the software. The iPad 2 comes with iOS 4.3, and it works quite well with it. Again, the A5 handles things quite well, with software running smoothly and apps rarely crashing, as I talked about just before in the previous paragraph. It all runs smoothly and nicely. There are three new apps with the iPad though, so let’s take a look at them
The first being Camera. The camera app on the iPad is identical to those on the iPhone 4 and newest iPod touch. That really is it.
Another new app Apple has included is Photo Booth. Again, very similar to the desktop version but with better touch controls and a more clean layout. You can choose from eight different effects, thermal camera, mirror, x-ray, kaleidoscope, light tunnel, squeeze, twirl, stretch and of course just a normal looking picture. Once you choose an effect, you’re brought to a screen where you take the photo, much like on the desktop version. There are three buttons along the bottom of the screen, one that takes you back to the effects menu, one that snaps the picture, and one that cycles through the two cameras.
Facetime, the third of the three new apps from Apple, is much more like the desktop version than it’s iPhone and iPod touch counterparts. It has the panel along the side, with your favourites, recents and contacts, just like it does on the Mac OS X version. You can sync ringtones to your iPad from itunes if you want to change your facetime ring to something else, which is pretty cool, but other than that, again, it’s very similar to the mac version.
When I purchased my ipad 2, I also picked up one of Apple’s Smart Covers. The baby blue polyurethane one to be precise. What at first I thought to be a bit flimsy and annoying, the smart cover is now almost always attached to my iPad 2. The design with the magnets is an incredibly good idea, it all fits together really nicely, and feels quite solid when the edge of it attaches to the edge of the iPad 2. Folding the cover up into a stand for typing or viewing video also works really well, it really does position the iPad 2 at a great angle for typing. It can however get a bit annoying when playing a very motion reliant game on the iPad 2, such as a car racing game, or labyrinth, mainly because you have to hold onto the smart cover like the back of your iPad, and it can slip around a bit. Even then it’s not much of a problem, the magnets make it so easy to just quickly take off and then put back on, you can just do that and your problem is solved.
The iPad 2 truly is a very powerful device. It has something about it, setting it aside from all these other android tablets, something that makes it seem a whole lot more unique and distinctive. It’s new slender appearance, and newfound power in the A5 make this a very desirable to loads of consumers, and I’m sure it will take off in the business market also. The solidity and smoothness of the software, coupled with the industrial design make this something I believe just can not be competed with by these new and up-coming Honeycomb tablets. While yes, the cameras could definitely have been better, and it would have been really cool if it had a retina display, the rest of this new iPad along with the massive ecosystem of apps and accessories outweigh those flaws, giving it a solid 9 out of ten for me.