Leigh has put together a very good review of the Apple iPad 2 already, as a massive Apple fan myself I was also given the chance to put this through its paces this time with thanks to Vodafone who agreed to send me a micro sim to use one on loan for a short time.
Unfortunately an urgent family matter interrupted the review and had to cut it short but I wanted to give my thoughts on the device especially being an Apple fan Now when I saw I am an Apple fan i like the brand, i love the design of their hardware and if you follow the site you will remember I stayed over night at my local Exeter store to be the first person to get the iPhone 4 from the store, but I am not a so called ‘fanboy’ who will just buy as it is Apple who made it.
As mentioned before this iPad 2 was kindly loaned to us by Vodafone who sell both the white and the black iPad 2 on either rolling 1 month contracts with the iPad costing £499, £569 and £645 depending what size you want and with three different plans depending on use.
You can also sign up for a longer 24 month deal and get the iPad for a reduced price of £229, £279 and £379 and then £27 a month which includes 2GB of internet plus 1GB of BT Openzone WiFi use.
I will break up the review into individual sections followed by my final thoughts overall on what the iPad 2 has to offer
- Size & Weight
The original iPad was hardly large or heavy for it’s time but as technology moves on so does the space you can fit everything into and the new iPad 2 is now much thinner and lighter than before which makes it even better to take around with you and making it much more portable. I often found myself waking up in the morning and reaching for the iPad instead of my phone to catch up on any news or tweets overnight because it was really comfortable to hold and the larger screen allowed me to do a lot more (also it helped after just waking up focusing on a larger screen). Whilst the actual design might look a lot the same what Apple have managed to do with the changes is improve what was already a winning formula and kept it simple yet different in it’s own way.
The iPad 2 is stunning yet simple, with both the white and black available at launch you get a choice which is something iPhone 4 users have been waiting over 10 months to get and thankfully iPad 2 customers can pick straight away. I was sent a white model and whilst black looks more elegant with the silver back and thin lines, the white is something special making it stand out a lot more than the black one, maybe because it is so different to have a large white tablet device with all others being black, and again this might be a personal option but to me the black is more practical for every day use, the white is to show off and to stand out from the crowd.
The iPad 2 features not just one camera but two and both are reasonable without being outstanding. The front facing camera (one always facing you) is for FaceTime use and with this application being on the iPad, iPhone and Mac computers including all new laptops Apple really have a large market out there to make the most of video calling and they really excel at what they have done with FaceTime. Because this is over WiFi you get a clearer picture and better quality audio then we used to see on older 3G video calling and even comparing a Skype video call to FaceTime you can really see the quality difference. Once again Apple have pulled out all the stops in video communication like they did with iChat and iSight camera setups on older computers. The external camera is 5 megapixels and also records in 720p HD video mode but neither is anything spectacular which is a real shame. In fact when indoors trying to take a picture on the iPad 2 was a really poor experience with the image looking all dark and with poor colours. Outdoors was better which was at least something to be thankful for, video recording again suffered with the same results. Whilst having the camera is a good idea when you look at the size of the tablet you have to ask yourself how practical is it to stand there with a large 10 inch tablet device recording video or taking pictures when your mobile phone in your pocket is much smaller, ligher and could even have a better camera for recording.
- Ease Of Use & Applications
Ease of use and Applications is what Apple are all about, when it comes to apps then Apple are the market leader there really is an app for everything. Apps are downloaded either on the iPad using 3G or WiFi or can be downloaded on your computer via iTunes and loaded onto the iPad when you next sync giving you a few options, the large screen makes iPad downloading really easy. There are a whole load of iPad specific apps which make the most use from the large screen but iPhone apps still work letting you view either the normal size you would see on an iPhone which is quite small on a screen this size or you can double the pixel size to make it twice the size which is handy but you do lose some quality of the application design. Natwest is an app I really enjoyed using as I can check my bank accounts on the move, even topup mobile phones from my bank account any time of the day. The apps market is booming right now and Apple are out there in the lead already but with Android hot on it’s heals.
- Final Thoughts
The iPad 2 as I have said before takes the best part of the original iPad and makes a good improvement on things such as weight, size and the addition of the FaceTime camera is a great idea for people who travel around a lot or who want to chat with friends and family abroad.
The big issue Apple now have is was before now the iPad was the world leader and pretty much the only tablet to go for, but now there is a lot of competition from Google and the new Honeycomb tablets such as the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung 10.1 which is due out soon, these all have a large application market available, have a browser which supports flash video which is a wide known issue with Apple not supporting and with new services like GTalk Video competing against FaceTime the tablet war is about to get very interesting.
Apple will always sell well because of the design and because the brand is so strong worldwide, the pricing although when you first take a look you might think is expensive when you consider a sim free unlocked Xoom on 3G and WiFi is around £550 anyway you get a feel for the price these tablets are aiming for, even the LG 3G tablet is rumored to cost over £700 which might just be a typo from Carphone Warehouse or might be real.
If you want a tablet which just works straight away with a massive application store, high quality video conferencing or an enjoyable browsing experience then the iPad 2 will be for you. If you like to hack, change, customise and platy around with your gadgets then before you decide take a look at some of the Android options before you splash your cash.
One thing to consider is with the iPad 2 having HD video already, 2 camera’s, running the new A5 processor and already thinner and lighter than the original what else can they do with the iPad 3?.
Link: Vodafone iPad Deals