Manufacturer
Apple
Product Website
URL Screenshot of http://www.a…ple.com/ipad/
Price
From $499
Pros
Thinner, lighter, faster and much better battery life
Cons
Cameras are very disappointing, still no Retina Display
Summary
There's no doubting that the iPad has, in fact, been a game changer as far as mobile computing is concerned. The netbook may not be as dead as some would suggest, but the tablet has certainly found a new lease of life. So when Apple launched the second generation iPad you might have expected it to push the boundaries of tablet computing even further, especially when you consider that there is a whole raft of Android powered devices competing with it. Sadly, that does not appear to be the case as far as the iPad 2 is concerned, in fact it feels a lot more like an iPad 1.5 to be honest.
Rating
8/10
0

Kudos have to go to Apple for taking the totally dead, and I mean Dodo dead, consumer tablet computing concept and not only breathing new life into it but turning it into an object of desire with the iPad. The new iPad 2 does not feel so aspirational. Sure, there is an increase in the wow factor but not to the degree that you those who have already invested in an iPad will feel compelled to upgrade immediately, and perhaps more importantly convince non-iPad owners to buy into the Apple dream at the expense of the Android one . Which side to take in the tablet wars could be about to become even more problematical with the first of the Android 3.0 Honeycomb devices, the Motorola Xoom, about to hit the shops. You can see our review of the Motorola Xoom here later in the week, but back to the iPad 2 and what the new version brings to the tablet party.


At first glance there's not a lot to see that is different, but the devil is always in the detail. So while the screen size and resolution stay the same (9.7 inches and 1024x768) if you get your ruler out you will find that the iPad 2 has shrunk down to 186x241x9mm - in other words, rather incredibly, a third slimmer than the original or thinner than an iPhone 4 even. Combine that with the fact that it is now lighter as well, weighing in at 601g, it really does feel more comfortable to hold than before. Whether you prefer the flat back of the iPad 2 or the curves of the original is a personal thing, for me it didn't make much of a difference in the hand. of course, on a flat surface it sits much more happily now that it has a flat bottom. However, and I fully appreciate I am risking the wrath of hardcore Apple fanatics by saying this: I would have much rather seen improvements to the already excellent screen in the shape of an upgrade to the Retina Display as seen on the iPhone 4 instead of purely cosmetic changes. I appreciate that there is always a cost analysis argument, but surely one balances the other if you were to remove the cosmetic redesign and invest in the screen instead?

But, despite all that and talking of cosmetic changes, one cannot forget the magnetic edge of the new iPad 2 which enables the use of new Smart Covers. I shouldn't allow myself to be sidetracked by what is, after all, an accessory rather than part of the hardware itself but it's hard not to be taken in by the cleverness of the $39 add-on ($69 if you want a leather version) which really does enhance the iPAd 2 in a very real, user friendly way. It's a protective casing, a flip-up stand and even surface mounting device (try sticking your iPad 2 to the refrigerator why don't you) all in one. Being designed specifically for the iPad 2, and being part of the undeniably inventive Apple design output, the Smart Cover will send the iPad into sleep mode when you close it and wake it up when you open it. Plus, if you want to detach it you can do so in seconds and without fuss courtesy of the magnetic fixings.

Just as the Smart Cover improves the user experience of the iPad 2, so do the performance tweaks under the bonnet of the device itself. Apple has upgraded the processor from a single-core Apple A4 to a dual-core A5 one and there's now 512MB of DRAM to be played around with. The end result being a doubling of CPU speed and a stunning 9x speedier graphics output (based on Apple figures) resulting in apps loading and running faster than ever before. For me the performance boost is the single most impressive differentiator between the original iPad and the iPad 2. Sadly, it's also the one area that most consumers are unlikely to take any notice of, not least as they will not have an original iPad for speed comparison purposes. For them, it will be a new experience and so talk of performance boosts will be lost amongst the hype over, of all things, the addition of a couple of pretty pointless (in the scheme of things) cameras.

Let's be honest, the iPad isn't really best suited to being used as a camera in the first place although I admit that the ability to take photos or film a quick bit of video footage is a nice option to have for when the urge takes you. Or at least it would be were the cameras in question any good. I'm no expert photographer, but even my distinctly amateur eyes could tell that the photographic results using the iPad 2 were, well, distinctly amateurish. Not only is the form factor of my iPhone 4 much more suited to taking photos, it has a fairly camera look and feel to it after all, but the actual cameras are a whole heap better as well. Apple knows this, making sure to tell anyone who listens that the iPad 2 now comes with a VGA front facing camera and a 720p rear facing one. What the? In fact, make that who the? As in who the heck talks about camera specs like that these days? Everyone and their grandma knows what to expect in terms of photo quality based upon the megapixel rating of the camera taking them. And even grandma knows that you are not going to become David Bailey using a 0.3MP snapper, or even a 0.7MP one for that matter. Erm, yes folks, the front facing camera is only 0.3MP and the rear facing one 0.7MP, seriously. As in, c'mon Apple, seriously? In case you were wondering, the iPhone 4 camera is a seriously respectable 5MP one...

Sure, there is some reasoning to this (other than the cost argument which is also used when faced with complaints about the lack of a Retina Display) and most of it can be summed up as 'it is all about the video, stoopid'. Indeed, if you look at the cameras purely in terms of video pixel resolution then they sound better at 640x480 and 960x720 respectively. Unfortunately, the real world results still are not great as can be evidenced in the distinctly grainy FaceTime video conference experience you can expect under most indoor lighting conditions. When viewing downloaded high def videos in 1080p via your iPad 2 and a HDMI adaptor to an external HD display the image is great, and you've got to love watching the display flip when switch iPad orientation, well I do but then you know what they say about small things pleasing small minds. The video mirroring support enables you to take your iPad 2 into the classroom or boardroom and be interactive on a large HD screen, although the black frame surround can be a little off putting at first you soon get used to it. The battery life of the iPad 2 seems to have improved rather dramatically, lasting about 25% longer than the original in general use which really is not to be sniffed at when talking about any mobile device. The Apple claims of a 10 hour battery life are not, in all honesty, that wide of the mark. Perhaps most importantly though, the real world battery life of the iPad 2 is far better (like, erm, twice as long) than any of the comparable Android tablets that I've got hands on with have managed.

So, is the iPad still the best tablet for the average consumer? The answer has to be a definitive yes. Despite the veritable army of Android devices fighting for a share of the lucrative emerging tablet market, none has managed to really match the form and function of the iPad itself. Is the iPad 2 reason enough to upgrade from the original iPad? The answer has to be no I'm afraid, it feels much more like an iPad 1.5 or a slightly tweaked original than anything with a compelling argument to part with more cash. It's good, no doubt about that, but the iPad 2 leaves me feeling just a little bit disappointed and wanting so much more. It's still plenty good enough for an 8/10 as a tablet device, but I was so hoping for a big fat 10.

Edited by happygeek: n/a

Attachments DW_rating_8_150px.png 17.51 KB ipad2-000.jpg 28.33 KB ipad2-001.jpg 47.48 KB ipad2-003.jpg 28.6 KB ipad2-004.jpg 18.31 KB

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

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Discussion Span
Last Post by sadiaali
0

Nice review but as all professional photographers know having a camera in a phone or tablet much over .3 meg has little benefit beyond spec. envy. The vast majority of photographs taken with these devices are used in e-mail or web photo sharing pages so .3 meg resolution is more than adequate.That resolution is also perfectly adequate for 4x6 prints which is the size almost always used by amateurs making prints from their phones. Having a 3-5 meg tablet/phone camera is fine if you are frequently making 8x10 prints from your tablet/camera but when was the last time you did that? Meanwhile the down side of that size sensor packed into such a tiny area is decreased battery life and more noise in the photos. Google any of the pro photography sites and you will find consensus on this point e.g. http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/mpmyth.htm

Your comments about the 720P video would require a more complex answer but if you do some research on video codecs and the bandwidth required for real time video transmission you will realize that Apple made a good codec compromise given the limits the average persons bandwidth. Remember the who point of video FaceTime is seeing a loved ones face in video smoothly. Somewhat grainy 720P running smoothly is far more important than a high resolution jerky video.

Geeks have to watch out for using ever larger specs as the sole criterion of quality. Incidentally your article title, while catchy for improving page impressions, really does not go with the bulk of your article.

0

Thanks for the well considered reply, always nice to read another viewpoint on these things.

0

As for the title, it's perfectly accurate: I was impressed but nowhere near enough as I should have been for a second generation incarnation of such a game changing device. IMHO of course...

1

I'm impressed. Very impressed, myself with the iPad 2.

You have to know what Apple does with upgrades.

Once Apple creates a product category - such as the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, MacBook, Mac, etc. it does iterative upgrades to the product. The product gradually improves over time. Specs improve gradually over time. That is the way it is.

As such, when you compare the iPad 1 to the iPad 2, it is a huge upgrade.

CPU power is increased by a factor of 2.
GPU power is increased by a factor of up to 9 (a huge, huge, huge upgrade in power).
It is lighter and thinner.
It now has front and back video cameras.
The operating system has been improved to the point web browsing is much much faster.

Your objections are unrealistic:

1. Retina Display: It is not technologically possible to do a retina display at this time. The GPU is not fast enough to handle 4 times the pixels. The manufacturers CANNOT mass produce retinal displays for more than 40 million a year that Apple requires for the iPad. Thus, if you are disappointed in the lack of a retina display, you were simply wishing for the impossible.

2. Camera: The iPad 2 is THINNER than the iPhone 4. This limits what cameras can be used at the present time, without requiring the iPad have a THICK BUMP like a Droid. Apple did the correct thing: identify that videoconferencing is the primary use of a camera for the iPad. Then used the iPod Touch's cameras.

----

The Boundaries of Tablet Computing depend highly on software. It is because of Software that the iPad rules far above every other competitor.

For example, you can't do iMovie or Garageband or Filemaker Go on an Android tablet nor any other competitor.

The quality of software that can be achieved on the IPad is what sets it far apart from its competitors.

Realize also that Android users are cheapskates who do not like paying for software. Thus developers for Android have to use ads in their products. This, itself, limits the craftsmanship that can be put into an Android app.

----

As such, witness the long lines for the iPad 2.

The iPad 2 is very very impressive.

0

What will happen is the iPad 1 will be left behind in the iOS and App dust. Might as well upgrade now.

0

What will happen is the iPad 1 will be left behind in the iOS and App dust. Might as well upgrade now.

What facts do you have to back up this statement? The OS upgrades for the most part have been fully compatible with the older devices, just minus some of the newer features. For example, you can put iOS 4.3 on 3rd Gen iPod touch, you just don't get FaceTime. I have access to information from Apple protected by an extensive NDA, but I can say that existing iPad owners won't have any fear of software support loss for a while, not until at least the iPad 3 or 4. However Apple has a tendency to be unpredictable lately, but I don't see them breaking this pattern.

1

@windfind2

Um. 300K pixels in a 3:2 aspect ratio is about 670 x 447 pixels. This would look small and fuzzy (especially after de-bayerizing) on any modern monitor (where 1920 x 1080 isn't unusual anymore) and would look woefully inadequate even on the iPad's 1024 x 768 screen, occupying less that half its area, even at 1:1. Printed at 6" x 4" it would be printed at about 110 dpi. If this is your idea of "perfectly adequate", I'd suggest you get your eyes tested!

It also makes no sense to say that 300K is fine for 6x4 but 3-5MP is OK for 8x10. By your earlier reckoning 1MP would be "perfectly adequate" for 8x10 prints.

Railing against spec. envy is one thing, but you just took it to an absurd level.

Edited by nephmon: n/a

Votes + Comments
nice comment
0

That review, whether I totally agree with the content or not, was incredibly amusing. Had me laughing out loud at the camera megapixel stuff. Thanks for brightening up my day and getting me up to speed on iPads!

0

Well, i wanted to purchase an ipad 2 because i have already ipad. After hearing what happygeek said and doing some research, i found out that ipad 2 is not so impressive after all, it only have a front and back camera, the , the smart cover is impressive but so is the speed since is has an A5 duo core chip. The battery still the same. ALthough i am not very impressed with the ipad2 i may considering buying it just to show my support to apple. Every time a new ipad come out it will be smaller in size, wonder how small will an ipad 10 be, 2cm thin. Haha:P

0

By that point, I think it will merely be a clear plastic sheet, like the sci-fi movies. What we take for granted today, people 10-20 years ago would call sci-fi, quite amazing if you think about it.

0

Yeah i agreed maybe in the future, 10 year later the ipad would be a different thing that and maybe the ipad 2 is only worh $1

0

What will happen is the iPhone 1 will be left behind in the iOS and App dust. Might as well upgrade now free.

0

Kudos have to go to Apple for taking the totally dead, and I mean Dodo dead, consumer tablet computing concept and not only breathing new life into it but turning it into an object of desire with the iPad. The new iPad 2 does not feel so aspirational. Sure, there is an increase in the wow factor but not to the degree that you those who have already invested in an iPad will feel compelled to upgrade immediately, and perhaps more importantly convince non-iPad owners to buy into the Apple dream at the expense of the Android one . Which side to take in the tablet wars could be about to become even more problematical with the first of the Android 3.0 Honeycomb devices, the Motorola Xoom, about to hit the shops. You can see our review of the Motorola Xoom here later in the week, but back to the iPad 2 and what the new version brings to the tablet party.

At first glance there's not a lot to see that is different, but the devil is always in the detail. So while the screen size and resolution stay the same (9.7 inches and 1024x768) if you get your ruler out you will find that the iPad 2 has shrunk down to 186x241x9mm - in other words, rather incredibly, a third slimmer than the original or thinner than an iPhone 4 even. Combine that with the fact that it is now lighter as well, weighing in at 601g, it really does feel more comfortable to hold than before. Whether you prefer the flat back of the iPad 2 or the curves of the original is a personal thing, for me it didn't make much of a difference in the hand. of course, on a flat surface it sits much more happily now that it has a flat bottom. However, and I fully appreciate I am risking the wrath of hardcore Apple fanatics by saying this: I would have much rather seen improvements to the already excellent screen in the shape of an upgrade to the Retina Display as seen on the iPhone 4 instead of purely cosmetic changes. I appreciate that there is always a cost analysis argument, but surely one balances the other if you were to remove the cosmetic redesign and invest in the screen instead?

But, despite all that and talking of cosmetic changes, one cannot forget the magnetic edge of the new iPad 2 which enables the use of new Smart Covers. I shouldn't allow myself to be sidetracked by what is, after all, an accessory rather than part of the hardware itself but it's hard not to be taken in by the cleverness of the $39 add-on ($69 if you want a leather version) which really does enhance the iPAd 2 in a very real, user friendly way. It's a protective casing, a flip-up stand and even surface mounting device (try sticking your iPad 2 to the refrigerator why don't you) all in one. Being designed specifically for the iPad 2, and being part of the undeniably inventive Apple design output, the Smart Cover will send the iPad into sleep mode when you close it and wake it up when you open it. Plus, if you want to detach it you can do so in seconds and without fuss courtesy of the magnetic fixings.

Just as the Smart Cover improves the user experience of the iPad 2, so do the performance tweaks under the bonnet of the device itself. Apple has upgraded the processor from a single-core Apple A4 to a dual-core A5 one and there's now 512MB of DRAM to be played around with. The end result being a doubling of CPU speed and a stunning 9x speedier graphics output (based on Apple figures) resulting in apps loading and running faster than ever before. For me the performance boost is the single most impressive differentiator between the original iPad and the iPad 2. Sadly, it's also the one area that most consumers are unlikely to take any notice of, not least as they will not have an original iPad for speed comparison purposes. For them, it will be a new experience and so talk of performance boosts will be lost amongst the hype over, of all things, the addition of a couple of pretty pointless (in the scheme of things) cameras.

Let's be honest, the iPad isn't really best suited to being used as a camera in the first place although I admit that the ability to take photos or film a quick bit of video footage is a nice option to have for when the urge takes you. Or at least it would be were the cameras in question any good. I'm no expert photographer, but even my distinctly amateur eyes could tell that the photographic results using the iPad 2 were, well, distinctly amateurish. Not only is the form factor of my iPhone 4 much more suited to taking photos, it has a fairly camera look and feel to it after all, but the actual cameras are a whole heap better as well. Apple knows this, making sure to tell anyone who listens that the iPad 2 now comes with a VGA front facing camera and a 720p rear facing one. What the? In fact, make that who the? As in who the heck talks about camera specs like that these days? Everyone and their grandma knows what to expect in terms of photo quality based upon the megapixel rating of the camera taking them. And even grandma knows that you are not going to become David Bailey using a 0.3MP snapper, or even a 0.7MP one for that matter. Erm, yes folks, the front facing camera is only 0.3MP and the rear facing one 0.7MP, seriously. As in, c'mon Apple, seriously? In case you were wondering, the iPhone 4 camera is a seriously respectable 5MP one...

Sure, there is some reasoning to this (other than the cost argument which is also used when faced with complaints about the lack of a Retina Display) and most of it can be summed up as 'it is all about the video, stoopid'. Indeed, if you look at the cameras purely in terms of video pixel resolution then they sound better at 640x480 and 960x720 respectively. Unfortunately, the real world results still are not great as can be evidenced in the distinctly grainy FaceTime video conference experience you can expect under most indoor lighting conditions. When viewing downloaded high def videos in 1080p via your iPad 2 and a HDMI adaptor to an external HD display the image is great, and you've got to love watching the display flip when switch iPad orientation, well I do but then you know what they say about small things pleasing small minds. The video mirroring support enables you to take your iPad 2 into the classroom or boardroom and be interactive on a large HD screen, although the black frame surround can be a little off putting at first you soon get used to it. The battery life of the iPad 2 seems to have improved rather dramatically, lasting about 25% longer than the original in general use which really is not to be sniffed at when talking about any mobile device. The Apple claims of a 10 hour battery life are not, in all honesty, that wide of the mark. Perhaps most importantly though, the real world battery life of the iPad 2 is far better (like, erm, twice as long) than any of the comparable Android tablets that I've got hands on with have managed.

So, is the iPad still the best tablet for the average consumer? The answer has to be a definitive yes. Despite the veritable army of Android devices fighting for a share of the lucrative emerging tablet market, none has managed to really match the form and function of the iPad itself. Is the iPad 2 reason enough to upgrade from the original iPad? The answer has to be no I'm afraid, it feels much more like an iPad 1.5 or a slightly tweaked original than anything with a compelling argument to part with more cash. It's good, no doubt about that, but the iPad 2 leaves me feeling just a little bit disappointed and wanting so much more. It's still plenty good enough for an 8/10 as a tablet device, but I was so hoping for a big fat 10.

it's great brand nd great technology me like this brand iphones,,,thanks for sharing this huge info,,,,,,

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