By Megan Cullor
Product Specialist, Access
I’ll freely admit it — I’m an early adopter. I bought the first generation iPad (a wifi-only 16GB model) when it first came out, and then sold it to my mom a couple of months later because I didn’t think I was using it enough to warrant buying it in the first place. A few months went by, and I missed the darn thing! I missed sitting on the couch browsing the Internet (a hot, bulky laptop just isn’t the same). I missed the ease of writing a quick e-mail and not having to use my phone if I was away from my computer. I missed Hulu and Netflix and the PBS app (Sherlock Holmes was an incredible little mini-series — have you seen it?). And I missed Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds, darn it! And Marple! (If you haven’t played Marple yet, you’re definitely missing out)
So, I did what any self-respecting person would do. I bought my original iPad back from my mom, who, frankly, jumped at the chance because she was looking to upgrade to a 3G 64GB version, anyway. (You think I’m an early adopter? You should meet my mom!.) I bought a great case for it, I watched shows on it in bed when I was sick, I surfed the Internet from the couch, and yes, I played Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds and Marple (and loved it!).
But a couple of months later, Steve Jobs did exactly what we all knew he was going to do — he announced the iPad 2. Slimmer, shinier (seems like, anyway), and available in both black AND white! Same size models were available — 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB — but this time with a faster processor, slightly improved memory, and… dum dum dum… the Smart Cover!!! [insert applause here] So, what did I do? I sold my original 16GB iPad and waited two…lonnnggg…weeks for the iPad 2. Shipping took forever, and I eventually gave up and tracked down a gorgeous white 64GB iPad at Target, and canceled my first order.
Oh yes, the Smart Cover — wait, I’ll get to it in a bit. This review is for the iPad 2. I swear.
The first thing you’ll notice about the iPad 2 compared to the original iPad is the design. This thing is so sleek and streamlined compared to the original, it’s not even funny. It’s only 0.34 inches thick at its thickest point, compared to the iPad’s almost half-inch thickness. It’s also a little shorter, and a bit less wide, and it weighs only 1.33 to 1.35 pounds (the 3G models weigh slightly more), compared to the original iPad, which weighed a pound and a half. It’s not a huge difference in weight, but it’s enough of one that you’ll notice if you spent much time with the original.
Two cameras have been added, one in the front and one in the back, to use with apps like Facetime (video calling) and Photo Booth. To be honest, I haven’t used either of these apps much, nor have I used the cameras very often at all. I consider them more of a novelty, and my Evo has Qik if I plan to do video calling, or I use my MacBook Pro for Skype and short video recording.
The RAM was increased slightly to 512MB of RAM (seriously, Apple? not 1GB?!?), which I’ve noticed has aided in the decrease of apps crashing (could’ve been some apps just weren’t getting along, too), and it’s definitely snappier than the original. A new CPU has also been added, replacing the original iPad’s A4 with their new A5, a 1GHz dual-core chip.
The screen is exactly the same as the original, which is still beautiful. I’d said I wouldn’t upgrade to the iPad 2 if the screen quality didn’t increase, but I was desperately lacking space with my little 16GB iPad, and the 64GB upgrade has been great. I can’t imagine anything less now.
My biggest concern with the iPad 2 was the gorgeous aluminum back. I didn’t want it to get scratched up, and I knew that I’d be using it with my apple green Smart Cover (in a minute, I promise!), so I bought a GelaSkins skin for it, which has worked beautifully to protect the back. I’d planned on covering the front of my iPad with the skin as well (my GelaSkin came with a front and a back), but the white glass bezel is so pretty that I decided not to cover it up.
And last but not least, the Smart Cover. It’s so simple, yet so awesome. My favorite color these days is green, so I ordered the apple green Smart Cover. It has 21 magnets in the “spine” of the cover, which line up with the ten magnets in the iPad itself. So far I haven’t experienced any issues with the magnets being near my Kindle (they’re buddies and travel together a lot), or near any of my other electronics, and I haven’t read many reports of issues, either. The cover contains a small round magnet that activates a small inductive sensor inside the iPad 2′s bezel. This sensor is responsible for the coolest thing about the Smart Cover/iPad 2 combo: Just by lowering the cover onto the iPad, you can put the iPad to sleep; and to wake it up, simply lift the edge of the cover. Too cool. No more hitting the Home button and swiping to unlock (which, granted, takes about one second…), or fumbling around for the power button on top of the iPad. Love it!
The added bonus for the Smart Cover is the fact that it rolls up onto itself and can act as a stand three different ways. First, it can tilt the iPad just enough to be used for typing in landscape mode. Second, if you turn it so that it’s standing propped up against the cover itself, it stands almost straight up (75-ish degrees, I’d say) and is great for a more upright display (again, in landscape mode). Or, you can stand it up at a portrait orientation, and the folded cover helps it stand up at a full 90 degrees. My personal favorite is the lower landscape mode position. Perfect for playing Angry B– I mean, working, testing our new Formatta iFiller for iPad. (Editor’s note: More on this to come – stay tuned to this blog, our Twitter perch and our Facebook page).
I know there are many other tablets available now, but my main reason for choosing the iPad over all of the others is the sheer number of apps available. Sure, the Android marketplace is catching up (I know this first hand, because I have an HTC Evo 4G phone and love the apps on it), but the apps I turn to time and time again are always in the Apple App Store. One day that may change, and when it does, I’ll be there (maybe). But in the meantime, the only move I’ll be making is to a different GelaSkin for the back. Or to the iPad 3. Or 4.