If you have not heard of the iPad 2, you must be probably living under the rock, but technologies constantly involve in the technology world and to give you a simple background, Apple just announced their second generation of the iPad, the iPad 2. Among some of the new features include a new camera (Front and rear), a dual core processor (Faster performance), Gyroscope and Smart Covers (Which is a simple and innovative add on accessory).
Many people have questions about the newer iPad release, some might even doubt their purchase as many expected more from this release, some people realized that the new product fall short of their expectations. So let me clarify my take of this whole new iPad vs iPad 2 (1.5) saga.
So don’t start thinking that the iPad 2 is just another iPad 1S [Remember iPhone 3G to 3GS?]
Let me take all this new features and ergonomics inspiration as a first generation iPad user to justify for the product purchase.
1) It’s an add on.
True enough, the iPad do not have the capacity to do all things crazy and digital. No matter how Apple tries to add as much capacity on the iPad (like adding Garageband and iMovie), such as the range of apps and products, it still could not take over the entire Macbook / iMac – Mac OS X line of products. And of course, it couldn’t run Flash, which many competitors use that as a selling advantage.
2) It’s a convenient-product
This is a tablet computer (sort of), and many people expected a lot from something which is so portable and thin (Are you serious?). Bulk Vs Computing Power. Like what the old saying goes, one will rise above the other. Do you know that the new iPad 2 is thinner than the iPhone 4?
As compared to the original iPad, do you know that the iPad 2 is now lighter and thinner?
3) What are you expecting?
It’s just a tablet, In my point of view, Apple would never come out with brand new technologies in an instant, if the competition could not live up to the hype. Have you heard of any compiling tablets after the iPad? Okay probably, the Galaxy Tab which is totally reskinned by Samsung and not a native Android UI? The Motorola Xoom? Something which is still not being released to the public yet, with its traumatising pricing? (The specifications of the product makes up for it though, but who needs something that can process so much on an Android?) but in my view, there isn’t a real competitor! Although tons of tablets were released, not one managed to hit it’s sales target as strong as the iPad. And not to mention that some tablets from other manufacturers is actually slow and buggy as hell.
4) Do I totally need this features?
Yes, iPad 2 comes with a camera. And yes, don’t most laptops do as well? ( Although I am pretty happy that Apple included Photobooth, which is a type of Neoprint and on the fly image effects and editing application). However, the camera they used is the same as the iPod Touch (4th Gen), which is totally not cutting it. The camera in the rear supports 720P HD video recording is a strong standpoint for the camera, however the image capture is terrible and some of the photos which came out of it is really pixelated and do not capture the essence of the image with washed out colours. At the same note, the camera in the front of the device is only VGA quality, if you remember, it is the same quality as my old Motorola Razr V3 phone. On the other hand, the front camera is only needed for FaceTime, unless you want your friends to see every detail (Including your pimples), you don’t really need a good camera for that. (FaceTime is a video chatting technology by Apple, and since all your video conversations will pass through Apple’s servers, they will not provide HD video calls as it will slow down their servers and increase load)
The camera is not visible, and taking videos on the iPad might need some time for people to get used to.
Final Say: The FaceTime idea is not too compiling as there’s no iOS messenger or a system to find friends who are using an iOS device which contains a camera. On the other hand, the FaceTime idea is not very compelling as it only runs only through Wifi. (Lets not talk about Cydia hacks)
Do I need the faster performance on the iPad?
Probably, I notice that Apple tried to shrimp on the RAM (Which is a component which temporary memory is stored) by providing only 256MB which caused many applications to crash and run out of memory really fast. Especially when they are intensive games or applications that involve heavy processing power. So their answer to that is an Apple A5 chip, which is better than the previous A4 chip as it’s duo core and have double the processing power. However, Apple did not announce and release the specifications for the iPad’s 2 RAM.
From what I understand from other sources, Apple’s point of lowering the RAM is for developers to write better and ‘cleaner’ code for the Operating System to run. The processing power on the iPad is significantly bumped up, but the RAM is still crucial on the device which Apple is keeping quiet about.
Final Say: Unconcluded, despite the better processing power of the device, the RAM is not justified, yet. (Until we see those iFixIt photos!)
I believe it’s a signature for Apple products, increase all the features and keep the batteries strong and steady is something which Apple took pride in since day one. I currently own an iPad and their claimed 10 hours of battery life not only hits its target and even went further, I have been getting close to 2 to 3 days worth of usage, which is really constant and amazing. Other phones, especially those running on the Android platform, do have quite an issue with the battery usage due to many factors such as multitask and options like that.
Final Say: Leave Apple running in it’s hamster wheel on the power management! It’s doing a good job!
iPad Smart Cover.
In short, its an accessory, but it gets so much attention because it’s made by Apple and the design is in it’s essence. So the quick idea is there’s this cloth you put on the iPad and the device will sleep, you take the cloth out, the device will turn itself back on again.
Final Say: This is actually another sub product of a product for users to purchase, consider all options before you intend to get one.
HDMI output (High Definition Video output to Televisions or Display outlets).
Yes, its important, and once you know that it’s important. Apple would charge you for an optional accessory to go with it, because not everyone use this feature. So it will cost you about another $50 to get the cable to route the video out. However, one feature you get is Video Mirroring, which is finally resolved as its a really big issue on the first generation of the iPad as many people thought that they are able to broadcast any content they see on the iPad to the big screen. However, seldom knew that it will only work for certain supported applications, such as the video app and Apple’s iWork suite, Keynote (Powerpoint), Pages and Numbers.
Some Android tablets have a HDMI port out of the box, but to keep the product slim and the profit higher, a HDMI cable is being sold, but not everyone would need it anyway. Definitely my grandma won’t!
Final Say: You don’t need to be concerned if you are a regular user. If you are a business user, the HDMI cable come with a charging port while you are doing presentations, so it’s quite a trade off even for the price you are paying.
Gyroscope and features like that.
I understand that the strong factor for the iPad is about applications. If you do not have apps, you can probably forget about getting the iPad. Which is why Apple emphasizes a lot on Application development and API usage, which is to utilize all aspects of the hardware that the device have, while maintaining the game in it’s field. Gyroscope is a technology which could be really hard to implement as it is have to do with gravity, and adding so many features into a game could delay development and increase pricing due to the R&D involved. So many games developers actually do not use the gyroscope technology yet, which is quite disappointing as it is such a huge potential. However, the compass is a genius when you are walking around the town area with Google Maps and the accelerometer is a no brainer, almost all the functions rely on it, including changing the device orientations and stuff like that.
Final Say: As compared to the first iPad, a new gyroscope is added, might not be useful, yet.
5) Why I am still a little disappointed.
(I am on the road and this happens, Now do you see the whole big issue)
Many people say the Wifi version of the iPad is a poor man’s device. Although that’s quite true, but they should have added more features to the product. As compared to the 3G iPad, the Wifi iPad do not include GPS and 3G. I mean 3G is definitely justifiable as its a mobile technology which would definitely cost more. But GPS? I mean, it will be awesome if I am able to use the iPad as a GPS unit while driving instead of my phone, with its miniature screen size and a small squeaky speaker. And there’s so many GPS applications on the app store such as Sygic Aura, Tomtom, among many other GPS Navigations applications. Most of the maps is downloaded and use offline anyway. On top of that, many hoped that there will be newer display technologies, such as the Retina Display for the iPad, but given the jump in cost price if that happens, they might hold it off for another product release. Some were hoping that there will an SD card slot for importing music and images, high capacity (apart from their 16GB, 32GB and 64GB), a smaller version of the iPad (Probably something of the size like Galaxy Tab) or many people simply label it as a iPad Mini or Nano and finally the crappy mono speakers, which they really need a bump to stereo speakers this time round. But again, is that really needed? (A bump would be good, nevertheless)
Final Say: If you want to get an iPad, look for one with 3G, even though the price point is slightly steeper and since most telco’s provide a free data card (Mobile broadband) all you need is a MicroSIM cutter or a new MicroSIM from your Telco. If you are not willing to spend, just go with iPad (first generation), most users do not need the new features, we have our mobile phones for them, or more specifically the iPhones and the Androids.
6) Why I am pleased.
Pricing point, no change in pricing at all, in fact Apple has lowered the price point for the first generation of iPad by $200 and for the refurbished about $300 SGD. So if you want one, it’s good to get it first and help Apple to clear their inventory.
The battery life is rated at 10 hours, despite all the new astonishing features being added to the iPad 2, the battery life is still the same as the first generation iPad.
The lovely iOS 4.3 is an update to their slightly dated iOS 4.2
Many sources have mentioned that existing iPad owners should not upgrade to the iPad 2 as its improvements is not exactly really huge. Trading in your iPad at the current moment is not a variable option as the resale value has already dropped. Do you need the newer features, is it really necessary? If not, stick with it, if yes, consider your budget and all your options that the new iPad got to really offer.
Final Say: Think twice if you want to upgrade your existing iPad to the newer iPad 2.
New users on a budget constrain should probably look into the refurbished section of the Apple site for the first generation iPad (It changes from time to time, so stocks and quantity is limited) or wait for the upcoming weeks to get your newer iPad. As always, if you order your iPad through Apple’s online store, you will get a free engraving and shipping! (But your iPad casing would probably cover off the engraving like what my colleague have said and it would decrease trade in value, unless you use Apple’s new smart cover case)
Final Say: The first generation iPad fits within most budgets (You could get one for as little as $450 SGD, if you get the time right), if not just settle for the second one. (If you find a budget surplus that is)
All comments and opinions expressed are solely of Jeremy Goh.
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All Image credits: Apple Inc