iPad 2 Specs Are a Disappointment

The tablet competition was basically caught off guard in 2010. It took them a year to create viable competition for the iPad and while some have shipped (Motorola Xoom) several other major competitors (H-P TouchPad, RIM PlayBook) have not. Even so, while the competition was back to the drawing board, square one, having to design both hardware and a viable tablet OS, Apple had a year to jump way ahead.

Here’s a comparison chart of the iPads and Motorola Xoom. (My colleague, Bryan Chaffin has posted a bigger, better version.)

iPads vs Xoom

What’s notable is that the Xoom has a million pixel display while the iPad 2 has 786K pixels. What happened to Apple locking up the majority of the capacitive screens from Samsung?

I can’t complain about the RAM because Apple hasn’t announced the RAM in the iPad 2, and only rumors point to 512 MB, just as the iPhone 4. Apple likes to skimp on RAM to force the developers to write lean, clean code.

The Xoom has stereo speakers, not just stereo on the headphone jack. The Xoom has HFMI 1.4 built in; for Apple it seemed like an emergency afterthought.

It’s hard to be certain, not having 4.3 in-hand, but the iPad 2 presentation today suggests that Apple isn’t really into (or ready for) some kind of conventional file transfers from a Mac or PC to/from an iPad via USB — or something. That didn’t matter with the new MacBook Pros; Apple went ahead and included Thunderbolt even though not many peripherals have shipped. Nor does Apple appear ready to release the iPad’s dependence on a host PC or Mac.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the iPad 2 is a fabulous device, and we’ll add one to our family. I’m just mildly surprised that, given a year’s head start, Apple didn’t produce an iPad that’s not only better than a lot of the competition, but also didn’t virtually shut down the competition and dismay them.

If I were Motorola, I’d be happy with my hardware and focus more on better marketing, retail accessibility, apps and pricing. Of course, that’s the whole point of Apple’s overall lead and the superiority of the iPad 2. Even so, I’m now wondering whether Apple doesn’t, in fact, have to bring out an iPad 3 for Christmas to definitively widen the gap in a way they would have liked to do today.

As Craig Ferguson says, I look forward to your letters.