on March 15, 2011
For anyone out there who is considering whether or not to make the leap and purchase the iPad 2, this review is for you. If you're still debating between the iPad 1 and the iPad 2 check out my review of the first generation iPad right here on Amazon to see a discussion of its strengths and weaknesses with a number of people commenting (both positively and negatively) over the past 11 months.
Let me begin by saying this upfront, I don't work for Apple, I don't own Apple Stock, and whether you buy an iPad, Xoom, a laptop or a pad of paper and pencil I don't get anything for writing this. I'm not an Apple "fanboy" although I can give credit where credit is due and lately Apple has deserved a lot of credit for some of their products.
The iPad 2 is absurdly thin. More importantly than it's thinness is its tapered edge which feels more natural in your hand. One of the biggest complaints about the original iPad was it really wasn't tremendously comfortable to hold for long periods at a time. For a tablet device designed to be held, that's a pretty big deal. Apple really has done an amazing job of cramming everything into an even smaller space than before and the difference is really noticeable when you're holding the device. In addition to the tapered edge, Apple managed to reduce the overall weight of the iPad 2. That might not seem like a huge deal to most, especially when you consider the weight difference isn't tremendous when you're already under 2 pounds, but I spend a good part of my day holding the iPad in my hands and the weight difference is surprising by the end of the day. The first generation isn't heavy by any means, but the iPad 2 outshines it.
New and "Improved"
Apple doubled the RAM in the iPad 2 from 256MB to 512MB. What does that mean? For most casual users, probably not a whole lot. There is a performance bump that everyone will see the effects of in things like loading times for webpages that are open in the background, but 256MB was sufficient for most daily use and games. If you're planning to use your device for some of the more graphically intense games the iPad 2 does offer a better method of graphics processing that'll help deliver faster images with fewer jerky movements. If you're just playing Angry birds and reading e-mail you're not going to know the difference.
The screen is the same for all real purposes. It is technically a "new" part in that it isn't identical to the old, it's a bit thinner and more efficient, but it's the same resolution. The Glass is thinner though, and this amounts to a fair bit of the weight loss from one generation to the next. In playing with the device it seems surprising but despite feeling lighter it actually feels more sturdy in your hands. I still wouldn't suggest dropping it, but if it were to fall the iPad 2 certainly feels like it might stand a better chance to survive. Try not to drop it though.
The addition of 2 cameras was expected. Some were a bit surprised to see the first generation released without the cameras. Whether it was for a price point consideration, or a means to get people to upgrade, Apple held off until iPad 2. The cameras do a reasonable job, but they're not going to replace a dedicated digital camera, or really even the camera on your phone for most still images. The cameras do a substantially better job with video, and FaceTime is probably one of the best reasons to get the iPad 2 over the original iPad. For those who might not be familiar, FaceTime is Apple's face to face conferencing system, kind of like Skype, or if you'd rather, kind of like the Jetson's TV/Phone. With the push of a button you can be having a face to face chat with a loved one just about anywhere in the world (provided they're on a wireless network at the time). FaceTime doesn't work over 3G natively (it can be used over a wifi connection created by a 3G device however) so you're not going to be able to use it in your car anytime soon. This is probably a good thing though. It is incredibly easy to use and if you know other people with an iPad 2, iPhone 4, or Mac it's a lot of fun.
Smart Covers aren't really "smart" but they're really very useful. Not only do they provide a stylistic enhancement of the device, but they serve a practical and functional purpose of doubling as a screen protector and stand in 2 configurations. You can find them in a variety of colors and from third market suppliers, and it's a safe bet that more will be out soon to capitalize on the magnetic sensors in the iPad 2. It's unfortunate that this same feature can't somehow be retrofitted to the iPad 1, I wouldn't have thought a case would be a compelling reason to consider a product over it's competitor, but these covers are really so useful it's hard to understand why they've not been there since the beginning.
One of the biggest knocks against the iPad when first released was the lack of native multi-tasking support. Jailbreakers added the feature quickly and Apple soon realized it would be a requirement for any future device's success and released an OS update that included the feature. The iPad 2 capitalizes on that progress and takes it a step further with the increased RAM enabling more open applications to be suspended at once, and the time to open or close an application has improved as well. That said, even the first generation managed to open and close apps faster than most people would be used to on their computers, so while this is an improvement it's more akin to showing off.
One thing that Apple has clearly the advantage in for the moment is app availability. The App store has close to 70,000 iPad specific Apps, all of which will work on the iPad 2. The new cameras will undoubtedly see this list expand rapidly, as will the inclusion of a gyroscope for gaming and motion based uses. There are also a substantial number of professional applications ranging from document creation to photo editing and vector drawing. Chances are if you can dream it, there's an App for that (and if not you might want to get started on one to fill in the gap). The Android market is making a strong showing, and ultimately it'll likely be a strong competitor, for now it still has a ways to go, but any potential buyer should consider the strength of the application market before buying a tablet.
Weight. Seriously. The minimal weight of this thing is by far the most impressive feature about it in my opinion. It seems to defy physics and logic that so much could be in such a small space working that hard for that long.
Battery Life. From full to dead my iPad 2 went just over 11 hours with the movie Robin Hood showing twice during that time, the screen at half brightness, wifi turned on, an Angry Birds marathon and a good portion of a book in ibook. That's better than a work day and that's constantly on.
Books. This is definitely a Pro, but reading itself could go either way. The great benefit to the iPad is having access to Google Books, ibook, Nook, and Kindle. This allows for some comparison shopping and price competition (although for the most part they're all usually about the same). Reading in the evenings in bed is great as the back light means you don't have to worry about keeping others awake, but the glass screen causes some glare trouble when trying to read outside or near a sunny window. If you're an avid outdoor reader the Kindle might still be your best bet.
Still no dedicated USB support. While there is a camera add-on that allows for certain USB devices to be used there is no option for mass storage. Some of the Android Tablets allow for this and if you find yourself wanting to use your tablet as a standalone storage device this might be something to consider. The device can read from certain flash drives though, but is largely limited to photo and video files. Jailbreaks offer solutions to this, but those come with their own issues as well.
Still no dedicated SD card slot. This is troublesome on two fronts. First, if you want to import pictures from your camera you have to have an adapter which is just one more thing to carry around. Second, the lack of expansion means you're limited to what you purchase in terms of storage. I purchased a 32GB iPad last time and never filled it up completely, so for me capacity wasn't an issue. If you want to be able to have your entire movie collection with you though... you may want to consider whether the iPad 2 can meet your space requirements.
HDMI output. Really this is a Pro and a Con. The iPad does allow for HD output over HDMI but again it requires an adapter. All of these adapters are additional purchases for features that some tablets offer built in. This can be a pain, but then again if you're not likely to ever use HDMI Output then you're not paying for something you won't use.
No Flash Support. This is becoming less and less of an issue as the internet and web developers are moving away from Flash for many websites, but there are a lot still out there relying on Adobe's Flash to run properly (including a lot of web based games). Before you pick a tablet consider what kind of websites you frequent and try and determine if they are Flash driven or not. If they are you may really want to consider something from the Android offerings as it is expected that they'll have at least some Flash support.
If you're in the market for a tablet device the iPad 2 should definitely be on your short list. If you're uncertain it is always best to go and play with these things hands on first if you can. Best Buy is a good place for that, so are Verizon Stores since they have the Xoom and 3G iPad. Don't get pulled into the hype and mania that comes with an Apple release. They're exciting and new, and they're impressive enough to warrant some excitement, but it will die down and there will be other products that prove a strong competitor to the iPad 2. If you're looking for right now though, this is probably your best bet. I gave the device 4 stars, as I did the iPad 1. I did this in contemplation of the features offered by competitors that are absent from the iPad, most notably the requirement for adapters for USB/SD/HDMI. While these features are there, they aren't as convenient as in other tablets. With that in mind I firmly believe that the iPad more than makes up for this in usability, reliability, and design and in those areas far exceeds its current competitors.
on April 23, 2011
People need to be aware that the reviews you see for the iPad often reflect the old Mac/PC platform wars with some people making comments who simply don't like iPads from a distance, without actually owning one, because they see it as part of the deplorable Apple mania they find so distasteful. They're entitled to their opinion, of course, but it is unfortunate they skew the evaluation of this product without the deep acquaintance one needs in order to give it an insightful evaluation.
I have taught computer science at the college level for 26 years and have had computers with all kinds of operating systems. I don't own Apple stock and have never known anyone who works at Apple. I therefore have no connection to Apple.
I have had my iPad for about a month and read a fair number of reviews before I purchased, spent some time using one at the store, and thought about what I might use one for, in contrast to my laptop with which I am well satisfied. People too often think of computers in terms of hardware, the specs and looks, instead of the software and the functionality. You should ask yourself, "What will I use this for that solves a problem I would like to have solved?" Software is always more important than hardware, even though it is the hardware that makes an impression.
The iPad is not a laptop and is not principally a production computer, that is, a computer on which you are going to develop web pages, do serious graphics editing, or write a book. You could use your new Taurus to tow a trailer, but that is not what it is designed to do well. These things can increasingly be done on an iPad, but I don't believe they will ever be what it is best at. It is a portable media machine with an inviting touch interface that requires a somewhat different set of skills, which take a modest amount of time to learn. Surfing the web, checking email, watching movies, playing games, looking at new cars, reading the Economist magazine, all work better on an iPad than a laptop. It does these things very well indeed. There are now 80,000 apps for a wide variety of activities--given its design intent. The apps are either free or reasonably priced, so you can get a bunch from the "app store" for little investment. As with Amazon, you can see what other people think of an app before getting one.
This would be a splendid acquisition for small children, for teens deep into social networking, for an adult wanting to drop into the love seat for a quick look at what is happening in the world, for a senior citizen who wants a simple, inviting system with few hassles, to stay in touch with grandchildren. The iPad is not a light laptop; it is instead a different way to use computing to do a wide variety of consumption and communication--not principally production.
In my experience, its wi-fi is adroit from one environment to another. It "knows" where it is geographically, scans its environment for wi-fi, and accesses wi-fi seamlessly. At this point in time, we should expect no less. I cannot address the 3G communications since I have a wi-fi only (I am not convinced of the value of the 3G and I can use my phone as a hotspot). I have never had it crash, though I have had to back myself out of apps that seemed to have no logical next step. This was the result either of my ignorance or the fact that there is less of a standard user interface from app to app than there is in classical GUIs such as OS X and Windows.
For the laptop lugging road-warrior, it should be noted, this is not going to be a full replacement. I now take my laptop and my iPad when I go into the college. But much of the time there, I use my iPad because it is so light, convenient and useable. I use it to teach my classes and often reference traditional texts from the iPad instead of lugging them along to class. I develop my own web pages on my 27" desktop which is the right environment for such development; I wouldn't expect to do that on an iPad. In education (and evidently in medicine), it is proving to be a real boon. The enterprise situations where portable information access and transmission are critical will find this a compelling solution. The heavy Photoshop user or music track editor will still need a conventional computer, either laptop or desktop.
I purchased the 64GB version, which may be more storage than I need. But since it will drive my 50" screen downstairs I figured I would begin to load lots of pictures and favored music, so it may prove a wise choice in the long run. It can swallow up entire evenings with the music-augmented slide shows it can do. In fact, you may begin to wonder if you need cable TV. Conventional content providers should be worried about the iPad since it provides yet another way for the user to determine viewing experience. But if you are still drawn to cable, it makes a fine remote control.
Before people evaluate this new kind of computing, they need to spend a month or so with it to identify what it does well and what would be better left to other kinds of computing solutions. I fear some of the evaluations here (both glowing and critical) are not well informed and so do not serve the readers well. So read these reviews with a critical eye.
October 18 2011 Update:
I continue to find my iPad remarkably productive and productive in ways I would not have anticipated. It does indeed redefine how we can use computing so that it does the work we want to do with minimal impediments. I now leave my laptop at school and take my iPad back and forth since 80 or 90% of the time the iPad does all I need to do. I use it 3 or 4 hours a day.
I just ordered my wife an 11" MacBook Air with the larger RAM and storage, which might seem to contradict what I said in my review. I don't believe it does for the following reasons. She needs to do serious editing of Word documents for the volunteer work she does for the college and still wants the joys of a 2-pound piece of elegant hardware. She is an excellent typist and likes the feel of the Air's keyboard. A keyboard can be added to an iPad, but it's a kludgy add-on that compromises the point of the iPad: an ultra-light slim, touch-interface device that does most of what traditional computing does without the impediments of mouse and keyboard and weight. The 11" Air is a gem of engineering with many of the advantages of the iPad but it is more capable of the production I spoke of in my review since it is a full OS X Lion machine--so it is fully capable of running traditional production software such as Word or Photoshop or, for that matter, Windows.
The Air and the iPad illustrate the difference between a consumption device (iPad) and a production device (Air). Much of what is appealing in the iPad can be had in the Air, but at the cost of an additional several hundred dollars. It's not the solution I want since I don't want the keyboard getting in the way when I want to curl up with a consumption device in my favorite love seat or use it to assist my teaching in class. My wife prefers the Air since email and other typing-intensive production activities are so important to her. In a word, the iPad is distilled essence of computationally assisted consumption.
I guess we will give the phrase "mixed marriage" new meaning!
on March 15, 2011
First things first: I consider myself relatively unbiased on Apple products. I received the original iPad as a gift (which I was able to return once I saw the iPad 2 announcement) and I have an old iPod 4th gen with color display which is still going strong after a few years, but aside from that I typically use Windows PCs and my phone is Android.
If you don't have an iPad, and you're trying to decide whether you want one or not, ask yourself: What will I use this for?
This is meant to be an overview for the uninitiated, since according to initial news reports, 70% of people who have bought the iPad 2 so far didn't own an original iPad.
If you want it for web surfing, a portable Netflix or other video screen, gaming, or FaceTime/Skype video chat, it's definitely adept at all of those things. I used to read books and magazines in my bed before going to sleep, and I still occasionally do, but now I've found that surfing with the iPad is just as convenient and relaxing.
The iPad is all about the apps, many of which greatly expand the native capability of the iPad. You can get Microsoft Office clones, remote desktop, second screen, calculators, alarm clocks, remote apps for cable boxes and disc players, and more. Some are free, many are not. I'll get into some of those a bit later, but keep in mind this isn't intended to be a review of apps. If you want to see what's out there, you can search the App store on the web or in iTunes. If you expect the iPad to be able to do something not in its specs, check the app store first.
The only difference I've seen with the iPad 2 is that now there are a few games out there that are optimized for iPad 2, or have improved iPad 2 modes. Lots of games are free and those that aren't occasionally go on sale. The only two I've bought are Scrabble HD and Dungeon Hunter 2 HD, both when they were $1 each. (I've played many more free ones.) I recommend both. Dungeon Hunter 2 HD is a great 3D game that tries really hard to be Diablo 2, with character classes, customization, and online play. It looks great and has never crashed or had a framerate stutter. The iPad 1 had problems with crashing and low framerates with games occasionally, and this version seems to be a much better gaming system. That's the only big difference I noticed between the iPad 1 and iPad 2 so far though.
For me, having a huge array of apps to play with, many of which are free if you don't mind ads here and there, and the convenience of being able to web surf without having to drag out my laptop makes this worth having. Plus the battery gets 8-10 hours on a charge, which is a far cry better than any laptop I know of. It's a great e-reader for airplane travel, even really long flights, though you can't use it on take-off and landing of course.
Wi-Fi performance is flawless and the range is excellent. More than once I've pulled up in the driveway and before I'm even in the house, I've heard my iPad's ESPN ScoreCenter app go off to inform me of a score. I can't speak to the 3G quality, though, as I don't have that model. Frankly, I don't think most people need it. If I'm out of the middle of nowhere and need the web for something, I'd much rather pull out my phone than the iPad. If you just have to use the iPad, tons of public places have Wi-Fi these days.
If you want to be able to print things, you might think at first that you need an AirPrint compatible printer. Fear not! A simple Google search for "AirPrint any printer" will show you how to configure your PC or Mac to broadcast its printers with AirPrint. I have Brother and Canon printers and they both worked with it. It took some time to download and install the AirPrint service and then configure printer sharing options on my network, but that was a far cry better than buying a new printer or an expensive printing app! Still, I've found that my printers occasionally disappear from the list, and the only way to get them back is to shut the iPad down completely and power it back on. Annoying.
The iPad 2 still doesn't support Adobe Flash. Some websites are adapting to this and adding HTML 5 video. Many aren't. Keep that in mind if you're a heavy web video user. I love to watch web shows like the Nostalgia Critic and the Angry Video Game Nerd, and most web show hosting sites are still in Flash. Also, some sites have flash menus, making them completely unusable to you if they don't have a mobile version. It's this that prevents the iPad from being a true laptop replacement, regardless of how much you spend on apps. I still end up having to fire up the laptop to use several websites I enjoy.
The screen is supposedly oleophobic but gets fingerprints all over the place in mere minutes of use. I find that extremely irritating. If you feel the same way, get a screen protector like the ZAGG InvisibleShield (though if you get that particular one, be VERY careful when you install it, it's extremely difficult to get it on there with no air bubbles). You will thank yourself when all it takes to clear fingerprints is one wipe, plus it protects from scratches to boot. To get fingerprints off the screen itself took vigorous scrubbing and left streaks, which needed isopropyl alcohol to remove. Also, in direct sunlight, the glare off the screen makes it hard to see. Add fingerprints to that and it's practically impossible.
Although the iPad 2 has two cameras, one on the front and one on the back, I haven't found much reason to use them other than for video chat. The cameras are terrible quality and the iPad 2 just isn't portable enough to drag around everywhere for camera usage. You can get an excellent digital camera for $150 or less, and most smartphones have much better cameras than the iPad has. Use one of those instead.
If you don't own a laptop, don't expect the iPad 2 to do everything a laptop will, especially if you plan on doing any work-related things. Office applications are not included. Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, which are like Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint respectively, are available for $10 each. I don't own them, but apparently they work reasonably well. However they are not 100% compatible with Microsoft Office documents, especially if you have more complicated formatting, macros, or animations that don't translate directly. Plus, the virtual keyboard is a bit more tiring to type on and definitely hinders typing speed. I average about 45-50 WPM on it, where I can get 80-100 WPM on a normal keyboard. You can be a little lazy with it to increase your effective typing speed, though; you can leave out apostrophes or required capitalization and the iPad will nearly always fix it. That also mostly takes care of my fingers occasionally hitting the wrong keys due to the lack of tactile feedback, but I still end up having to go back and fix words sometimes. Also, sometimes it fixes things that don't need to be fixed. It always seems to correct "its" to "it's", but what if I mean "its"? I know the difference!
A lot of other features that you would expect a laptop to have are not here, though, or cost more. For example...
- You can give slideshow presentations or display video on external monitors, projectors, or TVs with it, but that will cost you $29 for a VGA adapter plus the price of a cable and DVI to VGA adapter (monitors or projectors), or $39 for an HDMI adapter plus the price of an HDMI cable (newer TVs), or $39 for a composite or component video cable (older TVs)
- You can transfer photos from a camera directly without having to use iTunes, but that will cost $29 for a camera adapter kit
- The iPad is terrible at file storage for things other than music, videos, photos and apps, and with no USB or SD card slot, can't easily use external storage. If you want to store documents or need external storage for anything you'll need a file management app to keep track of them, and an online cloud file storage service like MobileMe (expensive) or Dropbox (free but limited to 2 GB, or pay for more)
- Where you can just close a laptop to protect its screen, you'll need a case to protect the iPad. I highly recommend getting one. To save some money, try a cover/case intended for iPad 1, assuming you don't care that the rear camera will be covered up. A lot of them still fit and work great, such as the Griffin Elan Passport for iPad - Black, and since they're for an old model they'll be discounted
- You can watch videos/TV episodes/movies on it, but unless you bought them in iTunes, it's a big fat pain to find a converter for them and transfer them to iTunes. This is especially annoying for DVDs/Blu-Rays that have digital copy. You've already paid for the movie and have a digital file but you can't transfer it to your iPad without having to jump through a ton of hoops or buying expensive programs or apps! Not all media companies have this problem, though. When you redeem a digital copy from Disney, you can choose to get an iTunes version, which is perfectly compatible with the iPad. I have Up, Toy Story 3 and Wall-E, and getting them on the iPad was hassle-free. Conversely, Warner Brothers only offers Windows Media versions of the Harry Potter series for digital copy. Transferring to iPad is possible but you need to find programs that remove the DRM, resize to iPad resolution, and convert to Quicktime format. Good luck with that.
Despite all that, the iPad 2 is worth getting if you can spare the cash, and more importantly, if you anticipate actually using it. I don't think it's worth getting for games alone, but if you're a gamer, there are lots of great, cheap games out there. Many of them are even multiplayer, though I haven't tried it, since most of my friends don't have iPads and interoperability between iPad and iPhone versions of games is slim to none (board games like Scrabble and Carcassonne tend to support iPad/iPhone interoperability though).
The thing is, though, I got this as a gift. Would I have gotten it if I actually had to plunk down the $500+? Honestly, probably not. The lack of many features without having to buy expensive apps and accessories is a real deal-breaker for me (and subtracts a star from my rating). Plus, though I understand why Apple doesn't like Adobe Flash, they really need to get over it since there are large parts of the web that don't work without it. It may be bad for battery life, but why not just have the option to turn it on and off as needed, then? Still, if money is no object for you, it's a slick, entertaining device, and you'll enjoy it quite a bit. Just don't expect it to replace anything you already have; the iPad is in a niche market that the iPad itself created.
on April 8, 2011
I have purchased both an iPad2 and Xoom for different family members. I thought it worth comparing the two devices for anyone interested. Many of my comments are subjective so bear that in mind when reading the review.
External appearance and feel:
The iPad2 screen has a different feel from the Xoom screen - the iPad2 is a bit slicker, less likely to stick when moving short distances. The screen on the Xoom tends to show fingerprints more than the Ipad2 for some reason. Everyone in this family thinks that the iPad2 looks sharper than the Xoom.
Both weigh 1.6 lbs. Subjectively, the Xoom feels heavier than the Ipad2, but it's an illusion perhaps caused by it's slightly smaller size. UPDATE: I need to learn to use the scales - the Xoom is about 3 ounces heavier than the iPad2.
Both have a similar size screen, measured diagonally. But the aspect ratio is different - 4:3 for iPad2, 16:9 for Xoom. This means that the iPad2 actually has a larger viewing area, and this makes a real difference when scrolling through a web site. The iPad2 screen is brighter than the Xoom screen.
The Xoom feels a bit faster than the iPad2, and the specs show that it is faster. Both have dual core processors based on ARM designs. The Xoom seems to be able to handle graphics better than the iPad2. As far as connecting to Wifi networks, both seem to have this one down pat - they both just work.
The iPad2 is just like a big iPhone. Whether this good or bad is subjective. For me, it's good - polished, flexible and can be customized to my needs. The Xoom user interface is totally new, and unfortunately it shows - there are many rough edges. Some examples: moving icons around to group programs together is not intuitive and they keep moving back; you can see the first 5 applications running on the Xoom and select one, but the list doesn't scroll so applications that don't show in the list can't be selected; you can't close applications (except by a force quit that can lose data) as the Xoom decides when to quit an application; customization is possible but more difficult than the iPad2. In short, the Xoom user interface is a work in progress - great potential but currently quite flawed.
The iPad2 uses Apple's IOS. It works, but it uses cooperative multitasking which (in theory) is less effective than the full multitasking on the Xoom which uses a version of Google's Android designed for tablets. In practice, they both work fine and I doubt anyone would notice the difference.
iPad2 has 70,000 apps available from the Apple App store and it also runs the 300,000 apps available for the iPhone. Xoom currently has around 60 apps and it can run Android phone apps (but they are stretched in one direction which makes them look strange). Some of the iPad2 applications are pretty impressive - GarageBand for example. There are many games on the iPad2, and just a few games made for the Xoom. If this doesn't improve quickly, the Xoom is sunk. After all, applications are generally the reason people buy these devices.
Because of the screen aspect ratio that I mentioned, I prefer browsing on the iPad2. The Xoom has Adobe Flash and the iPad2 doesn't, but so far I haven't come across a single instance where this has been an issue. I'm sure there are very many sites not compatible with iPad2, but I haven't browsed to one of them yet.
I don't use the camera much, and I'm not really sure if either is better. In the family, the Xoom owner says the Xoom is better, the iPad2 owner says the iPad2. The Xoom has flash and iPad2 doesn't which is a win for Xoom, but the Xoom seems slower to take a picture.
The Xoom has two small speakers, iPad2 has one slightly larger speaker. The sound is somewhat better quality on the iPad2 and the Xoom cannot achieve the same volume as the iPad2. But they are both pretty poor - use earphones or an external speaker if you want decent audio.
Difficult for me to give an exact comparison, but based on family usage it seems the iPad2 has the edge here, but not by much.
The Xoom has 1GB of RAM and 32 GB of flash storage. The iPad2 has 512MB of RAM and 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of flash storage - I bought the 64GB model.
The Xoom has an external card slot that supports SD cards, but the software was not ready in time for the product release. The slot is inoperative until Motorola releases an operating system update. The iPad2 has no external storage support.
The iPad2 was up and running quite quickly. I connected the device to iTunes and it automatically updated to the latest version of the operating system. I was then able to select and download Apps immediately and start using them.
The Xoom was not so easy. For some reason, I was not able to install the latest version of Google Maps or Adobe Flash. I was able to download the apps, and the install process appeared to work without errors, but the new apps just were not installed. After some time trying I finally returned the Xoom back to the factory settings and started again, and this time both the installs worked. Of course, this wouldn't be a good solution if you had a ton of applications and/or data on the device.
Apple has their retail stores. You can get a huge amount of help from these stores from people whose only job is to support users. Both iPad2 and Xoom users have web sites available that support their products but you have to spend the time digging for the sites and digging through the sites. You can also purchase an Applecare support package which gives you a couple of years extra support for the iPad2.
I believe the Xoom hardware may be slightly better than the iPad2 (apart from the screen aspect ratio and the speakers), but the software is terribly lacking. The Xoom was released FAR too early, it's just not ready for primetime.
If I had to pick just one, I'd pick the iPad2 - less hassle, apps for everything, better browsing experience, better support options. The Xoom needs less buggy software and more applications; it has potential but it's not there yet. And by the time it gets there, there will be something better available.
We have now had the two devices for over 3 months. During that time Motorola released an update to fix some of the issues with the original Xoom. It's somewhat faster, the problem of only seeing the first 5 applications is fixed, there are some extra capabilities for USB, and most importantly, the Xoom doesn't crash every few hours.
However, the biggest issue with the Xoom is still the number of applications available to run in native tablet mode, as opposed to running Android phone applications. I've read that there are 300 applications available, but it's hard to find them. The Android Market doesn't distinguish between phone applications designed for a small screen and tablet applications. You have to read the description of each application to see what it is designed to run on, and finding 300 apps in 200,000 is very time consuming. Apple claims to have 100,000 iPad specific apps in their store.
Another problem with the Android Market is the complete lack of supervision. I understand that anybody can put any application there without any review, and I've read there have been a few problems with malware. Recently I saw an article that claimed there are spyware applications on the store, which worries me a little. I'm not saying you can't get malware from the Apple store, but Apple does look at the apps first - I'm not aware of any malware getting into the Apple store.
The iPad2 does have some downsides I wasn't aware of when I wrote my review. It would be nice to have a general purpose USB connection and a card slot. There is an extra-cost adapter available from Apple that supplies HDMI out and a limited function USB connector. Also the keyboard attachment made for the original iPad doesn't work on the iPad2.
For us, the iPad2 is the winner. The Xoom is sitting on a shelf and I don't think it's been used over a week now. In contrast, iPad2 is in use every day and continues to be a big hit. The primary problem with the Xoom is the lack of tablet-based applications.
The Xoom has been sold to a colleague who wants an Android tablet. I think the Xoom is better than most of the Android tablets currently available. However, the Honeycomb software feels so unfinished, and the paucity of available tablet-based applications was a major issue. I lost several hundred dollars on the sale, but nobody wanted to use it and there was no point in letting it lay around unused. I'm already under some pressure to buy another iPad2, but I want to wait to see if the rumors of another iPad version in September are true.
on April 5, 2011
SUMMARY: White iPad 2 64GB Wifi-only
A really wonderful electronic device for media consumption with some moderate content creation potential. This will likely change as more apps focused on content generation are created. I find myself using it more and more simply because it is "always ready" and small enough that it is always near. If this device had a better file management system and a more robust way to share printers it would have gotten 5 out of 5 stars. As it is, the iPad 2 is a solid 4 star device.
DELIGHTERS (Current features that exceeded my expectations)
FORM FACTOR: Thin and comfortable to hold. Small enough to toss in a bag or carry around the house so you find yourself using rather than trying to "remember" to do "that thing" the next time you're at your computer. Still has some weight to it (1.3lb) so prolonged reading in certain positions will cause fatigue.
APP ENVIRONMENT: Really excellent variety and quality of applications for a broad range of uses and a broad range of prices. Also plays nice with content providers like amazon kindle, Google docs, and lots of news outlets.
SLEEP MODE: It is seemingly "always ready" as it wakes from sleep very quickly.
HDMI OUT: Granted there is a $40 accessory required it is nice to have the option of showing what's on your iPad 2 to a larger audience.
iOS: Overall the operating system is "cleanly" designed, features are easy to navigate and find.
PROCESSING SPEED: Remarkably quick to load apps, web pages, pdfs, etc.
SATISFIERS (Current features that met my expectation)
HOMESHARING: Being able to share my iTunes library (music, movies, podcast, etc) across my wifi network is wonderful and saves space on the iPad 2.
SCREEN: Bright, good touch sensitivity, "flips" between orientations well, handles pictures and text with aplomb.
PRICE: Reasonable considering the competition but nearly high enough to justify a "real" laptop
AUDIO: Speaker is quite good for a handheld device, placement in portrait mode ends up in your lap but you can invert the iPad so not a huge deal. Also speaker faces rear of device instead of forward meaning you need to crank it louder than maybe otherwise necessary if it were forward facing.
BATTERY LIFE: Battery holds up well even after a day of heavy usage, charges up easily over night. Can go 2-3 days without charging with moderate to light usage)
WIFI: This simply "works". turn it on, detect a signal, and go. No messing around with complicated network settings.
ONSCREEN KEYBOARD: Its responsive and surprisingly easy to use. However, scrolling to a separate numbers keyboard and lack of a "tab" button really disrupts workflow.
DISSATISFIERS (Current features that did not meet my expectations)
FILE MANAGEMENT: File management on the iPad is Byzantine. You use iTunes to "attach" files to apps or email them?
PRINTING: Unless you have an AirPrint capable printer (new hardware to buy) or one of a handful other printers you will need to use the atrocious "file management" system above to get the docs on you computer to print. Double whammy of pain!
CAMERAS: The two cameras are adequate for video chatting but taking stills is a joke. True I wouldn't want to shoot a lot of birthdays holding an iPad but I would like to use a program like "GeniusScan" to photograph documents for later reference. The 0.7Megapixel camera is capable of "barely legible" documents.
COST PER GB: Paying >$3 per GB ($100 more for 64GB than 32GB) is nearly twice what you'd pay per GB for the difference in a stand-alone USB thumbdrive.
TOUCH NAVIGATION: Ok so this is a general criticism of any touch device and there is no way to get around it really. Having "grown up" using keyboards and mice to interface with computers I am having to learn how to do tasks differently. Press-Hold, Swipe, Two vs Three fingers. All for tasks I was so used to doing with a Tab or Right-click.
WISHLIST (features I'd like to see in the next-gen iPad)
Touchscreen: The capacitive screen works fine for many things but writing notes with a "fat" stylus isn't one of them. Having a touch screen that doesn't require the "fat" stylus would greatly improve handwriting and note taking.
USB or SD Card ports (never gonna happen as Apple uses memory as a price differentiator but it doesn't hurt to dream)
Infrared receiver/transmitter (Can anyone say universal remote!)
Cheaper 3G antenna: $130 bucks extra for a 3G receiver plus I gotta buy a plan? ugh.
Smartcover: Would like to see this included in the price of the device
on March 28, 2011
If you're considering a tablet, the only rational choice is the iPad 1 or the iPad 2. Anything else you there is too expensive/too buggy/lacking support/etc. As someone who owns a desktop but no laptop, the iPad 2 is just perfect. A laptop would often be redundant, though it would be handy for working outside of the home. With the iPad, I will use it all the time both in the home and elsewhere.
I will try to add some comments that haven't been covered:
* I find that 16gb is fine, though this may change if app sizes get much larger. I don't intend to store my music or a bunch of videos on this. Videos can be streamed, or added as-needed, and I rely on DropBox to store files - it lets me view and edit files between my desktop and my iPad.
* Part of the reason the iPad is perfect for travel is that you can use it in any position, unlike a laptop, where you have to find a seat.
* It won't ever got hot or overheat. Personally, I've had a couple laptops expire on me due to overheating. You always have to keep them on a firm surface so you don't block the vents. The iPad doesn't have these problems (I think that the Macbook Airs similarly will never overheat). You no longer have to grab a tray or giant book to set your laptop on when using it in bed.
* Terrific value. All hype aside, the design, durability and capability of an iPad 2 is such that I would expect to pay much more. You can find a cheap laptop for the same price, and it will be capable of much more. However, the iPad will accomplish 95% of what you want to do on a computer, and will open doors (via apps) to new and totally unexpected experiences.
* Browsing the web is better on the iPad. At least, it often is. It's certainly better to take your iPad on the couch than to hunch over a laptop on the coffee table. Though the screen is small compared to a desktop screen, it's equivalent to working on a bigger screen because of how close you will be. Scrolling and navigating a webpage with your hand is a qualitatively better experience than using the tools we've become accustomed to (mouse, trackball or trackpad). I guess that's why sci-fi movies always depict computers with touch interfaces in the future. Moving the page around and adjusting the size of everything by hand never gets old.
* Just like with my iPhone 4, I rarely sync my iPad 2. I'm not a huge fan of iTunes. I can sync occasionally to back-up my apps. I don't use iTunes to manage files (again, I rely on Dropbox). Dropbox and Evernote are must-have apps on all my computers and portable devices.
* Safari can use some work. I prefer the tabbed browsing, not having to switch windows. There are some alternative browsers (I bought 360 Browser, which is good), but Apple won't let me select those as my default browser. I don't use Safari on my desktop, but even if I wanted to sync my passwords and history, I don't think it'll let me (it will sync bookmarks through iTunes though). I really wish Apple would loosen up so that Firefox or Chrome would be available, and that one of those could be my default.
* As cool as the smart cover is, I spent my money on a wireless keyboard instead. I really don't think the smart cover is going to make a difference as long as I take other measures to protect my screen. I may skip the HDMI adapter as well - it would be fun, but there is never a time that I will need to project my iPad on my HDTV.
In summary, if you think you'd like it, you'll probably love it. If you are just kinda curious but content with your current set-up, you can save yourself the money. For the same price, you can get an adequate laptop running Windows 7. I think this is a great alternative though.
on August 25, 2011
i bought this from apple because amazon didn't have it yet. I am middle- aged, love my nano, a kindle devotee from the first days, don't have a smart phone, and am a pc user. at first i was awed by the touchscreen and the resolution quality. images are gorgeous. but now, it is really annoying. too often the screen doesn't respond, and then reacts when you don't even know you're touching it. the word processing function has been limited and limiting from the start, for someone accustomed to microsoft.
if you think in buying the ipad you are getting a compact, fast, light computer, you are not. it IS fast. a computer it is not. no flash player is definitely a hinderance. what it is great for is apps, games, (although the screen has been frustrating there too), watching movies and tv shows, some browsing on the internet, and as a portable photo album, because images are truly fantastic on the ipad. i find the screen very fatiguing on my eyes, and have the brightness level down almost as far as it can go. i would never dream of reading a book on it. kindle has nothing to worry about, as far as the ipad as a reading device. the fact i can't see the ipad screen outside, even in the shade, is also unfortunate, but i get it, that's a backlit screen.
i am submitting this review not to bash apple, but to clarify a bit to people not familiar with macs and/or touchscreens what this device is about. would i buy this device again? not unless it sold for maybe $300. it is more a toy than a tool.
on April 4, 2011
The iPad is an invaluable travel companion if you are a frequent travelet.
Why do I preffer black vs white? If what you mostly do is watch videos on your iPad you want it with the black bezel because the video will blend with the black bezel and look larger than with the white it becomes kind of a distraction, this is the reason why most TV's in the market have a dark or a black bezel.
Portability of this thing is amazing, Its light and its easy to lug around when you are traveling. Also the battery life is exceptional, I'm bad at keeping my devices charged up and I have done a couple of 8 hour trips and my ipad was stil kicking when I landed and a few days after, Im truely surprized.
For those of you debating between the 3GAT&T, 3GVerison or the Wifi version, it depends on where you go to. I had the original 32 wifi only and I was very happy with it I noticed I got Wi-Fi access at a lot of places and I could also use the wifi hot spot on my phone to connect however, in recent travels I have been sent to middle of nowhere america where AT&T has no 3G coverage and hotels have no wifi (yes they are out there, hotels that still have no wifi) after I returned from my last trip to said location I decided I should get the Verizon iPad simply from the coverage perspective and since the 3G service is not on contract and the Verizon plans have more options I decided that was my choice. Now is this the best option for everyone, no! I think the 3G is just for a small amount of users the vast majority should be fine with a 16GB or a 32GB, if you know your way around the app market place and apps like Air Video Server and tools like DVD Fab and TVersity you dont need that much storage space on your iPad you can simply stream everything. Besides, I have a 32GB and I have 57 videos loaded in that 32GB iPad which if I watch 10-12 on a trip it is an overstatement, I'll watch a few on the plane but the rest, Im streaming from my Media Center at home or from NetFlix. When talking to people in line I was shocked at the number of people looking for the Verizon version when they do not travel, people if you are home most of the time just use your wifi, its cheaper and its faster! Another thing to note is that if you are an international traveller and want 3G the Verizon iPad is NOT Global wireless (so no 3G anywhere outside of the US) however wifi will work just fine.
You will see people complain about resolution and such and honestly, I think the resolution is perfect, the iPad is not meant to replace your laptop or your desktop or your TV, if it was why they would have bothered with airplay? If you are expecting to dump your laptop because you got an iPad think again, if you just use your laptop for browsing pages and playing games then you might get away with it however if you expect to do Office on these, think again, until MS gets their act together and decides that IOS is another venue of revenue for them I will still need to carry my laptop around to do word/excel/ppt files. Lack of flash support has not bothered me, yes I wish I could see some pages however, Im not in to the too flashy stuff (no pun intended) I rather get the straight text and keep going my only gripe would be that when Im conected via WiFi I would like to get full pages and not the mobile version however that is not an iPad problem it is a server problem.
Overall my score goes as follows
Comfort and portability A+
Battery Life A+
App Diversity and usability A+
Expandibility C (I dont need a USB port or anything like that however it is annoying that if I ever needed and expansion either I have to pay for an adapter or its not available)
TV Out Support B+ (simply judging that for HDMI you have to buy the dongle)
Cammera Quality C (who needs a cammera in their iPad anyways? Face time sure, rear facing meh)
Get a screen protector, I tried the Invisible Shield for my Gen 1 and hated it, the material removes the slickness of the screen and makes it harder to interact. I like the Splash screen protector, it is like its not there and it does make cleaning a bit easier.
Get a case this thing is beautiful but if you would like to maintain its resale value get a case that cover both front or back or separate covers, I think the Vapor case hack is pretty interesting.
Investigate tools like DVD Fab Video Converter (excellent for making iPad versions of your DVD's and BD's and it does take care of EVERYTHING for you from conversion to the right format to importing to iTunes) TVersity and Air Video for content streaming.
Be realistic on your expectations, I know Apple calls their products magic and their user interface and experience is fenomenal however there are limitations as to what these things can do so try to make an informed purchase that you are happy with instead of rushing and then having something that doesnt meet your expectations. For me I was debating between this and a mac book air however for me since I have to lug around my work computer anyways this won.
on September 7, 2011
So, you're thinking of buying an iPad however, you're not so sure of what it can do and how it works. So, here is the "Dummies Guide to the iPad" to help you make that decision.
"I promise to keep the jargon down to a bare minimum" :
To begin with the iPad must be paired to an existing Laptop or Desktop PC. These can be normal Microsoft Windows or Mac PC's. Once paired you can use the iPad by itself. It only has to be paired once. Although, there is a rumour that the next generation will work straight out of the box.
You will be able to:
-Touch and pinch the screen to type words and move things around
-Send and Receive Emails
-Browse the Internet including Online Banking, Internet Shopping and more...
-Listen to Music, including the Radio when there is a Wireless (Wi-Fi) connection
-Watch Videos and Movies
-Write and Print Letters (see the section on 'Printing' further down)
-Download and Play Games
-Become a Smarter Person (more on this later)
-Display Pictures - it is an electronic Picture Frame too!
-Take Pictures and Movies, if it has the onboard camera (iPad2 and newer)
-Have a chat with the relatives abroad using Video Conferencing technology
-Download THOUSANDS of books into a snazzy Book Reader that you can actually turn pages on the screen with
-There are loads more - I'll leave them as a surprise if you decide to buy one :)
You will NOT be able to:
-Watch a special type of animation or movie using a technology known as 'Flash' - don't worry about this though, you'll hear lots of people complaining about it. It really is no big deal and you'll learn to live without it. Over time, many of the popular web sites will move away from using Flash and use a newer technology that DOES work on iPads.
-Insert a CD (there is no slot and you don't actually need one)
-In fact, there is not much else you can't do with an iPad :
No, not the ones' from Oz! Wizards are helpful programs that magically pop up and automatically configure things like the Internet and Email connections for you. The iPad has more Wizards than you can wave a wand at! When you first switch it on and whenever you need to set something up it will automatically present you with a Wizard. Therefore setting things up is as easy as 1-2-3.
The iPad is also an iPod!! - Loading music is done in one of two ways.
1 - install the free version of iTunes onto your normal PC and follow the Wizards instructions to download your music from the 'iTunes Store' or transfer your music from your favourite CD collection. Then, connect the iPad to your computer using the supplied cable and it will automatically 'Synchronise' your music to the iPad. Yup, you guessed it - using yet another Wizard!
2 - iTunes is a built in application (or App) on the iPad itself. Tap this App to search for and download your music directly to the iPad. You could even download a movie or your favourite episode of 24 too!
Once the music is on there just tap the iPod App to listen to it. Easy-Peasy!
The iPad extensively uses Apps. Apps are downloaded, using Wi-Fi. This is why you don't need a CD drive. These are the icons that are displayed on the screen.
Apps are downloaded from the Internet using yet another App called: "The App Store". Tap this icon to search for or see a list of the most popular Apps available, some are paid for and some are free! Tap the 'Install' button next to the one you'd like, follow the Wizards instructions and the App will automatically download and appear as a new icon on the screen.
These can be loaded onto the iPad using iTunes, Email or the 'Camera Connection Kit' - this is a separate adaptor ($30) that plugs into the bottom of the iPad. Just insert the memory card from your camera into the adaptor and it will automatically load the pictures into the built in Photo App.
THE PICTURE FRAME
When the iPad is locked (by pressing the button on the top-right side) and then back on again, you'll see a little icon in the lower right side corner of the display. Tap this and the Photo App will automatically display your pictures in full screen mode, converting the iPad into a digital Photo frame! It is a great feature. This means that you can leave the ipad on the shelf, literally as part of your rooms decor! You may want to purchase a 'Dock ($30)' to have the iPad tilted and supported at just the right angle.
Tip: if you need a reason to justify buying an iPad to your wife - use the Picture Frame one!!
Printing is done wirelessly, however you MUST use one of the wireless printers detailed on the apple.com website. Typically, it will not print to anything other than one of those printers. There is one caveat to this statement, it is possible to print to any wireless printer if you pay for and download a third party App that is available via the App Store - use the search keywords 'wireless printing' to find it.
It is also possible to email whatever you'd like to print and pick it up on your normal PC for printing.
Finally, I mentioned that you could become a Smarter Person by using an iPad - in fact this is not a joke. There are thousands of educational Apps including ones' for learning Astronomy through to learning how to read and play music and even Apps that will help you learn a new language. The possibilities are literally right at your finger tips!!
If you're unsure of which size to buy just buy the largest one you can afford. I have a 32GB version and have only used half of its capacity even with some very large Apps installed.
The iPad is many things to many people and the information above is just scratching the surface.
"I hope this review helps you make the right decision and I also hope that I did not use too much confusing jargon."
*** update 12th October 2011 ***
Apple have released their new Operating System (iOS 5)
Amongst many new and enhanced features there is now the ability to synchronise data across multiple Devices. They call it 'iCloud' - think of iCloud as 'Virtual Filing Cabinet' to store your Documents, Diary and a record of your downloaded media from iTunes. Always accessible as long as there is an internet connection.
iCloud also allows the iPad to be used without having to 'Pair' it with a computer. It will now work straight out of the box!
The biggest change in our lives so far with the arrival of our iPad 2 is now that we have three of them, no one is without an ipad 24/7. You wouldn't think this would be a big deal but it is. It has eliminated all discord here plus the place is quiet as a tomb most of the time as each person is curled up with his own ipad. We are a husband and wife in our 60s plus my husband's mother who is 100 years old. She is curled up with the iPad almost all day long as her ability to do anything active has all but vanished. She goes easily from reading a Danielle Steele ebook to watching a Prince William and Kate lifetime movie.
The above is both versions of the iPad's biggest virtue: ANYONE OF ANY AGE CAN USE IT. Both my husband and I are techie types so we are quite expert on computers. Friends in our age range usually are not. My advice to every one of them is "buy an ipad." It puts those with low tech abilities on an even playing field because they do everything with their fingers and visually. It is the supreme compliment to say about either iPad, "any idiot can use it."
Right now you can't buy an iPad 1. We were going to buy a third one of those on sale but they sold out so fast that we had to get the iPad 2 as our third one. My husband is the one who appreciates subtle refinements in electronics. He has been in seventh heaven since it arrived. Truthfully, my mother in law and I, as long as we can get on it and read our books, watch our movies, assemble recipes in our app cookbook, and so forth and so on, are happy as can be and both iPad versions do that extremely well. My husband is the one who waxes rhapsodically over lighter weight, better LED screen, improved battery life, and so forth. Like most reviewers of iPad 2 he concludes that it is a beautiful evolution but not a revolution from the first iPad.
For those of you with extended families elsewhere, there are other new features which could be huge features for you. The ability now to visit with family members by video with your ipad 2 are completely built in. It has two way cameras. I would like to talk our other family members in California into getting one for the benefit of my mother-in-law, who could have excellent "visits" by iPad with all of them.
Also if you want to stream what is on your ipad directly to your HDTV and projectors, that too is now built in. We don't have such a tv because we like watching directly on the iPad itself with earphones.
There is also the ability to not only take your own videos but to edit them online. Plus the ability to locate your ipad if it is lost and to wipe its contents remotely.
These above new features are opening up a lot of possibilities for educators as well. Apple maintains an entire subsection on its website to helping educators use the new features to iPad 2 to best advantage. Essentially, it wants to enable them to use the iPad 2 to put its content onto a screen immediately in front of their students with the teacher controlling the whole thing with his or her fingers. Go over to Apple to check this all out as it is incredible.
I absolutely love the camera on the iPad 2. There was no camera on the iPad 1. Much as I have always loved my iPhone's camera, and much as I complained about who would want to use a camera the size of the iPad 2, I admit I underestimated it. It is just a fabulous camera and with just pointing and shooting you take pictures that look as if a professional had taken them.
I also researched this cover that apple was pushing real hard. It looks great but i discovered the users were not happy with it. Turns out they have to clean their screens every time they use it because it leaves three big marks on the glass every time. They also said it was unstable as a stand and one guy smashed his ipad on the floor as a result, shattering it. Apple is not very good at these accessory devices. So we ordered the zoogue ipad 2 case and are very happy with it. We have zoogues on our other two ipads as well and are totally happy with them. Just put the word zoogue into search engines to find it.