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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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Posted under: Reviews

  • Tormedic

    2nd Generation is a disappointment to some owners of the 1st generation device. I felt it falls short of what I would call good as far as a hardware up date. Its very difficult to call this and upgrade when the most noticeable thing is the added camera. Face-time is useless with out 3g component…. speed is nice but the original wasn’t slow. thinner and lighter who cares…..

    My comments are based on the fact that i currently own 1st gen 64g 3gwifi model and went and purchased the same in the 2nd generation only to take it back in disappointment……

    Even if they added the retina screen like the IPHONE 4 would have made it a mediocre upgrade at least it might have been worth the $1000.00 to upgrade and take a hit on the 1st generation to sell it privately..

    But not this 2nd generation….

    maybe 3rd generation….

    We will see….

  • http://twitter.com/EagleLooking78 Mike B

    I don’t get what you are saying in the “More Power” segment…are you saying that you want to be able to charge it off of your iPhone?

  • Anonymous

    While I didn’t own the original, I’m loving my iPad 2. That said, I don’t like the look or function of the tapered edges at all, so I hope they return to the flat edges in the future.

  • http://twitter.com/scwleung Sam Leung

    Sorry if it wasn’t clear. What I was saying is that if I had both the iPhone and the iPad 2 plugged in to the MB at the same time, the iPad 2 didn’t receive enough juice for it to charge at all, while the iPhone charged fine. It still synced fine, just no charge.

  • http://profiles.google.com/unbreakabledan Dan Magnum

    What he’s saying is that when he is charging his iPad on his MacBook he cannot plug anything else in or else the iPad will stop charging. The iPad needs to be the only thing plugged in.

  • http://www.facebook.com/osachar Orri Sachar

    If you purchased an iPad 2 under the pretences that it would replace your first gen iPad, then you clearly missed the point. In a tablet market that the iPad revolutionized (if not created), Apple needs to strategicly plan its 1-5-10 year plans. As much as we love to think that companies such as Apple, Moto, Samsung, RIM etc. are money hungry corporations (okay maybe some are), I believe that they too see the shortcummings of introducing a brand new reinvented product on a yearly basis.

    When the original iPad came out, it forced the competition to rush out their product in order to cash in on a relatively up-for-grabs market, and to boost initial consumer product recognition (hence we have all at one point or another held an overly underwhelming “Galaxy Tab”). After nearly a year, not to mention a few product blunders, companies such as Motorolla and Samsung have in a sense caught up to the original iPad.

    What is Apple to do? —— this is the part that so many seem to overlook

    In my opinion they could have done 1 of 2 things…

    They could have introduced the all new revolitionary ipad that everyone seems to be wishing they would have, but what would that have accomplished? They are running an OS that has remained relatively stagnent since the launch of 3.0, and have a year old iPad that is still flying off the shelves at rates higher than any other year old tablet. It just wouldnt make sense (in my opinion) for Apple to devote a large percentage of the “Cupertino Brain Power” to updating a still very relevant, and very popular product.

    What Apple did do is add in hardware features that keep its already successful product “competitive” in the market, while they work on enhancing their overall iOS experience (which is what we all know will be showcased at this years WWDC). I think that the iPad 2 is a statement to the host of Android tablets that Apple is not interested in playing the Spec-game. Updates such as Dual-Core processing, and front and rear facing camera help keep the iPad 2 in the comsumers top picks, but its the overall experience that Apple is counting on to drive the consumers final decision.

    Hold on to your first iPad, its GREAT! unless you travel alot and use facetime, or are running some processor intensive programs (get a macbook pro, and stop trying to be that pretencious hipster who busks on the street corner playing his iPad 2 garage band guitar), then their really is no need to to reinvest in the Apple iOS.

  • Nascar Dog

    I have a 1st gen 16GB WiFi iPad and purchased a 2nd gen 32GB WiFi iPad with the intent of giving my 16GB to my wife.

    In this case, I have nothing but good things to say about my iPad 2.
    It is faster, thinner and lighter.
    I really like that it has the ability to adjust the screen brightness lower than I can on my iPad 1. This is great when using it at night.
    The screen is cooler than on my iPad 1 which has a warmer look to it. Kinda like on a TV where you can adjust the color temperature. Side by side you can see that the iPad 1 has a warmer look to it which is actually better if you are watching a movie. The iPad 2 screen has more punch.

    I still like my iPad 1 as well.
    The thick edge and sloped back is nice when using on your lap.
    It feels more expensive due to the added weight and thickness.
    My wife will love it.

    I am happy to own both.

  • Rox

    well, having iPad0, I could say that iPad2 is a nice upgrade ;-)

    Also, who ever said that iPad2 targeted the iPad1 owner ? Do you plan changing your laptop every year ? If so, I guess you face a lot of disapointment in your life, because evolution is also slow in the computer business.

    It would be interesting to see what you change on a yearly basis that evolve so much that you are never disapointed. iPad doesn’t even has 1 year (officially) in Canada… food for thought.

  • http://www.facebook.com/vazandrew Andrew Vaz

    I didn’t have the 1st one so I absolutely love my new iPad2. It is a joy to hold (being extremely light), the display is crisp and the speaker exceeded my expectations. That being said, I do agree that if one already owns one you should think before upgrading. I will need the processing boost for Audio/video editing apps (the extra speed and graphics for gaming is an added bonus) but for most you may not need it. The cameras never entered into my decision, I have an iPhone for great candid shots, an SLR and HD cam for when I need professional equipment.

    Overall, I highly recommend this device

  • http://twitter.com/EagleLooking78 Mike B

    OK…got it, thanks for the clarification.

  • Psxp

    thanks!!
    you helped me decide whether to get one or not

  • Whiterhino14

    I get my hands on mine on Thursday. It’s my B-day and the girlfriend won’t let me near it till then. What kept me from getting the first gen Ipad was how awkward it was to hold. Everyone seems to say that the new unit is easier to hold for long periods of time thus making it more portable. I held my brothers last week and I have to agree whole heartily, to me portability is really the whole point because I already have a 17″ uni body and it’s not always easy to drag around. I currently have a Galaxy Tab and it is great for portability and comfort . Where it suffers is in responsiveness and lagging performance. ( I still think android has real potential, but it’s not Ios) It seems it doesn’t matter what I buy I go back to apple because it just works! Plus ,when apple has an update we all get it. With android it’s based on the manufacturer of the product not the operating system. I pre-ordered the Zaggmate keyboard case for my new IPad 2. I’ll post a mini review when it gets here.