iPad 2: To Buy or Not To Buy

| Just a Thought

Well, the reviews are coming in for iPad 2, and they are quite positive. Even an Android loving Xoom site felt obliged to give a reluctant, but deserved nod to the iPad 2, while other more device agnostic sites fairly note that while the Xoom may offer some better hardware specs than the iPad 2 (better cameras, SD Card slot, higher resolution screen), the overall package that Apple is offering is quite appealing.

Many of my friends have asked me if I have bought, or intend to buy an iPad 2, and whether I think they should get one. I’ve read about as much as a body can about Apple’s new baby, but to render any reasonable opinion, I had to get up close and personal with one.

So, on Friday, March 11, I stopped in a local Best Buy, after the small line of new Apple product waiters dissipated, to see and handle Apple’s new “magical” device.

iPad2

Courtesy of Apple

The first thing I noticed, and what most people will likely notice, is that the new iPad is thin. I’m talking starving runway model thin, emaciated greyhound thin, lose it in a stack of magazines thin. This is NOT a thick device.

Those of you who own eBook readers like the Nook or Kindle will have a general idea how thin iPad 2 is. In fact, iPad 2 is thinner than the Color Nook by .1” and only marginally thicker than the ePaper version of either the Kindle or Nook. The new iPad is so much thinner than its predecessor that the original iPad should be renamed iSlab.

Picking up an iPad 2, however, is a different story. While the weight of the new iPad is noticeably lighter than the original, it is still substantially heavier than any eBook reader. But while the iPad 2 is heavier, the weight comes off making it feel more substantial than eBook devices or other tablets, and that’s a good thing.

Other tablets are plastic or feel plasticky. There’s only so much quality something made of plastic imparts. Metal has little give and implies a solidity no plastic can match.

The new iPad is curvy as well. Edges don’t bite into your hand because there are none. Holding iPad 2 is comfortable and should provide a more eBook reader-like experience than any other tablet currently available.

iPad 2 looks and feels like it was designed and made by aliens who are adept at cloning, hyper-space travel, and alchemy. By comparison, the original iPad — which, in my opinion, is far better made than any other tablets — feels like it was chiseled from a block of aluminum by cavemen who’ve only recently discovered how to make fire.

Yes, iPad 2 is faster, but in most real world uses (writing, reading, web surfing, flipping through photos, and checking email), I didn’t really notice a speed boost over my newly iOS-updated iSlab. I’m sure the speed is there, the new iPad sports a dual-core processor and more memory than my iSlab. If, however, I’m not doing anything graphically or CPU intensive, which is most of the time, then all that processing muscle in iPad 2 is like driving a Lamborghini through a school zone.

So, while the new iPad induces Pavlovian drool at the mere mention of its name, and the heat coming from my wallet sets off the sprinklers whenever I get within 200 feet of an Apple Store, I will not be buying an iPad 2.

My iSlab is still quite a machine, and churns out text, info, and entertainment whenever I want. And the damned thing is not even a year old, still young even in computer years. I have an iPhone 4 for on-demand photographs, movies, and FaceTime. I don’t need a lot of processor speed to play Angry Birds, Nanosaur 2, or Words with Friends, and the new iOS update has made AirPlay worth having. So, for now at least, I’m good.

Should you buy an iPad 2? If you don’t already own an iPad then the answer is easy.

Yes! What are you waiting for? Grab the checkbook, dust off the credit card, break the piggy bank and get one. Choose between black or white (I prefer the black one), but I’d opt for the 32GB WiFi model. I believe it is the sweet spot between price and features. It’s also the most flexible option as it doesn’t tie you to a mobile provider. You can find the best deal on mobile WiFi hotspot services and save a little money, or ignore mobile 3G altogether and just rely on known free WiFi hotspots where ever you hang out.

If you’re like me and you already own an iSlab, then the answer is murkier. If you are a mobile gamer, movie maker, or music maker then you can make use of that dual-core processor. Give your significant other your original iPad and buy a new one. You’ll be happy you did.

If your current iPad does everything you need it to do then I’d keep my wallet in deep freeze and stay as far away from any Apple Stores, Best Buys, Targets, or Walmarts as you possibly can until the next version arrives.

If you see it, and touch it, you will likely buy it.

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13 Comments Leave Your Own

mlvezie

I’m actually in the middle in your question. I have an original iPad, but I bought it only a week ago for $400. I still have a week to change my mind and buy a new one.

What I won’t do is return it and wait to get a new one. it’s only been a week, but it’s already an essential part of my life (notably, exercising while watching Netflix).

So, assuming I can find a new iPad in the next week (just got word that a nearby store will have some tomorrow), is it worth the extra $100?

Tiger

Vern, iSlab is a great term for it. It made me laugh. I’m keeping my iSlab for now. I have only scratched the surface of what it can do.

Bill in Atlanta

Great article! I’m stealing the iSlab reference.

I have an “iSlab” I bought last August and I’m struggling against the yen to upgrade.  You’re right about one thing - once I touched the display model at Best Buy, my credit card started vibrating in my pocket…until I confirmed that there were none to be had in the city for another week.

If I had just bought one I could return, I’d totally buy the new one.

FutureMedia

Upgrade to the iPad 2 and wait for it if you have to. Also get the 64. I have over 1600 apps on my iPad 1 and they take up 46 GB of Storage. So the 32 is inadequate.

heaveho

Yes, it’s worth far more than $100 dollars to upgrade to iPad 2.  Be the best hundred you’ve possible spent in a while in terms of what it will be able to do for you.  the productivity gains I enjoy having it along side my MacBook Pro, Mac mini and iPhone 4—Apple rocks the iPad 2 is another example of form re-meeting function in nothing but a good way!

I sold my original to Gazelle.com so my net cost to upgrade to 64GB iPad 2 AT&T 3G/WI-FI was only $229 thanks to the solid offer I secured from my good friends at Gazelle.com.

Plus I’m grandfathered into an unlimited data plan with AT&T so I’m set.  My iPad 2 cleared customs today in Anchorage, Alaska so maybe I’ll be lucky and receive it tomorrow.

The 16GB AT&T black I ordered for my friend still reads “prepared to ship” but no tracking number yet.

Average Joe

What a balanced review!

Icyoung

I enjoyed your article and just had to comment on HP.  While they might have the infrastructure to provide a good product, their inability to accept criticism and lousy cusromer support will prevent them from catching onto Apple’s coattails.  BTW, i have the Ipad and just purchased the I2.  As a special educator, i’m loving the freedom they give my students.

Aajr

I love apple products, but was unimpressed by the iPad 2. The speaker was weaker than iPad 1 and placed in the back of the device. Didnt like that at all. Like the fact that it is thinner, but not by much. I still like my original Islab better.

wab95

Excellent points, Vern. Well-summarised.

My plan remains ‘to buy’. I anticipate, as was discussed on Chuck Joiner’s Mac Voices podcast the other day, that apps will come out over the next few months that will exploit the iPad2’s dual core capacity, and we will begin to see performance divergence between iPads 1 & 2. The issue isn’t bragging rights, but rather speed and efficiency of workflow. I am increasingly using my iPad in the field for work (notes on the run, reviewing and writing manuscripts, essential email) and trying to leave my MBP in relatively safer locations, when possible (not always feasible). You would have to see some of the places I work in order to appreciate this statement.

The other issue is family, and being able to pass down the older gen devices to the younger gen family. My wife will get the iPad1 (she’s already made that clear as the price of getting the iPad2), but we have have 2 kids (adolescents actually) who are already throwing hints about future versions, which gets me at least 2 more tickets to guilt-free refreshes. I knew those kids would come in handy one day.

Cafeyy

I loved you acticle and i was thinking about buy the i pad 2 at the moment i have the macbook and i was curious in the i pad 2 can you incert disc or movies or cd and this would be a big bonus ! i hope someone will reply soon as im ordering the i pad in the next few days and i would just like to know all about it.

mlvezie

There’s no way to attach a DVD or CD to an iPad directly. Generally, you have to put the media into iTunes first, then sync (or home-share) it to the iPad. There are some third-party apps, like Air Video (not to be confused with AirPlay), that enable you to stream content outside of iTunes to your iPad. And if course there are a few internet streaming services.

With music CDs, getting the content into iTunes is trivial. With DVDs, it’s a bit more complicated. You have to first rip it with something like handbrake.

Vern Seward

@ Cafeyy: One of the defining features of the iPad (1 & 2)is the lack of physical connectivity. In Apple view, hence the view of the rest of the tablet makers, is that the device should be light weight, and ultra portable. This usually means that peripherals like CD/DVD players can not be directly connected.

As mlvezie says, there are other, wireless, ways to get a movie onto an iPad.

Apple decided not to support ram cards except where cameras are concerned. This is silly, in my opinion, because it would have provided a great way to get content, like movies, onto your iPad without dealing with streaming.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy your new iPad.

Vern Seward

mlvezie

You can use an SD card (or other USB-connectable device) to put media on your iPad. The trick is to format the media like a camera so the iPad thinks it’s talking to a camera.

I heard that there was a device at MacWorld that was designed to do just that.

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