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One Week In: Pragmatic Thoughts On The iPad 2

by on April 5th, 2011

Oh iPad. Could you do no wrong?

That’s what I want to say in my first draft of my take on the iPad. I really do! Sadly, though, as often as there was something I wished to rave about, there was something else that stood out for a rant. This isn’t to say that the next generation of the iPad isn’t a magical and revolutionary machine. I love it to pieces and it’s already made a niche in my daily flow. Sadly, it just wasn’t a significantly more magical and revolutionary machine than the original, showing some of the fundamental flaws of the platform. Here’s why.

It’s Snappy, But That’s About It.

The iPad 2 is noticeably faster than the original. There is no doubt that even the heaviest and most intensive apps run smooth as silk on the new device, and admittedly, this is where it counts. However, the device begins to fall short in some of the other throttle points in my daily workflow. Primarily, device backup and syncing isn’t noticeably faster than the original iPad, showing that processor speed isn’t everything.

More Power Isn’t Always A Good Thing

As fans of the British Top Gear and Jeremy Clarkson would know, more power is always better. Certainly, there’s valid rationale for that. The problem comes down to a simple fact that more power out must imply more power in. The iPad 2 is no exception. So much so, it’s the only thing that can be plugged into my unibody MacBook (not the MB Pro) for it to charge. Plug in an iPhone 4? The iPad refuses to charge. How annoying is that?

A Shoddy Camera Kills A Better Display

In spite of the lack of a retina display, the iPad 2 display looks crisper. (Granted, it could simply be the perception of shininess clouding my judgment.) However, both the front and back facing cameras are the Achilles heel and truly detracts from the slick feel of the tablet. The pictures are grainy and unrefined, and overall didn’t feel polished. It seems like the iPad product design team lost an internal battle with the FaceTime team and were forced to incorporate FaceTime capabilities on the device when neither the hardware nor software were ready for the limelight.

And Speaking of FaceTime…

It’s a neat concept, but is so fundamentally buggy and laggy that a coworker on the other side of the office from me found it easier to walk over to my desk to get an answer than to even attempt FaceTiming me again…for the 4th time.

And Now, Some Other Physical Design Flaws

I’ve got to hand it to Apple for slimming down Gen-2 without compromising durability. The tapered design feels much easier in the hands too. However, the tapered design has a few flaws that both my coworker (owning the 3G) and i found. Firstly, the tapered sides make it a bit harder to plug in my headset and charge cable. In fact, because the sides taper off to such a large degree, I’m always worried that I would snap off the connector where it’s exposed on the sides. I wouldn’t have this issue on the original iPad where the entire connector was flush against the device.

The tapered form factor also makes for an interesting SIM card slot design. As my coworker pointed out to me, he had quite a hard time popping out the slot, and in doing so, heavily scratched the area around the ejector pin.

But Not To Sound Like An Apple Hater…

The iPad 2 still is a lot of fun, and GarageBand is a lot of fun (despite the lack of desktop compatibility until recently). It’s simply great device for first time iPad owners, and I still highly recommend it. Still, if you’ve already got a first generation device and is still on the fence on getting one, my recommendation is to sit and wait. There simply isn’t anything spectacular to draw a pragmatic iPad owner to upgrade. But then again, as the lineups on launch weekend showed, not all iPad owners are pragmatists (myself included).

Back to you though. Now that many of you have had a chance to play with the device more intimately, what other rants and raves would you bring up for the new shiny? As always, let the discussions flow in the comments below.

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