If you’re in the market for a tablet computer, you’ll no doubt be wondering if the iPad 2 is worth the cash. The Apple device is notoriously pricey but undoubtedly offers certain benefits over other tablets running Android or BlackBerry operating systems. Those benefits are multiplied if you already own a Macbook, iMac or iPhone. The iPad 2 is designed to integrate seamlessly and run companion apps which compliment other Apple devices.
With convenience there sometimes comes a lack of flexibility, though, and this is where the iPad 2 could be seen to falter. Naturally, Apple tie the device to their own operating system, iOS 4, and Apple review third party apps before allowing them to run on the iPad 2. Installing non-approved apps can be difficult without a fair degree of technical know-how. Generally you will find that rival tablets offer increased connectivity options too, although there are certain tips and tricks to get around the lack of proprietary ports on the iPad 2.
The iPad 2 is a revision to the iPad, although if you’re not au fait with the two you’d be forgiven for confusing them at first glance. So is there any point in splashing out on the new iPad 2? The form factor is basically the same, but with a few important differences:
The biggest revision externally is the presence of the two cameras. Apple are keen to push their FaceTime video chat software which offers video calling over an internet connection – not unlike Skype. The quality of the two cameras is not the same, though, and the HD video capture probably won’t replace your camcorder just yet. It’s best to try out an iPad 2 before you buy if the camera is important to you.
The processing power of the iPad 2 has been increased. It now boasts a dual core processor. If you just use your iPad for internet browsing you may not notice much of a difference. Games are more responsive, but again, it depends what kind of games you’re playing as to whether you’ll feel it. This may change over time as new apps are released specifically to exploit the two processors in the iPad 2.
There is a noticeable difference in weight, and a considerable difference in thickness, between the iPad and iPad 2. If you’re planning to use the tablet in the home, this may not be an important factor in your decision. If you travel regularly it might be your number one concern.
Although the two versions of the iPad look similar, there is a refinement in the design. And if you want white, you’ll have to get an iPad 2 – the original was black only.
Buying outdated technology is always a difficult conundrum to answer. Apple often move on quickly, only releasing software updates for newer models. You may find that your original iPad needs to be replaced once software support for it is phased out. This may begin when iOS 5 is launched later this year, although it is unlikely to have an impact in the short term.
The iPad 2 brings you the benefits of an enormous app store with free and paid apps for almost any purpose. This is where Mac and iPhone users will really benefit. Plenty of apps exist which can link your Apple devices in ways you probably never thought possible. Use your iPad 2 as a jotter, a whiteboard or a second monitor. Link it over your network via wifi or Dropbox. In general, like most Apple software products, this ‘just works’ – a huge boon for the technophobes, or those who don’t have the time to wrestle with stubborn applications.
So what about the limitations of the iPad 2? If you’ve been spoilt with an HDMI socket on your Android tablet, you won’t be pleased to hear that an external cable is needed to output video from the iPad 2 to your TV – and it’s not cheap. Likewise, there’s no SD card slot, which is a surprising omission for a device that may cost you upwards of £600 – SD card slots are almost standard on netbook computers costing a third of the price. And there’s no way to attach an external hard drive. Again, there’s an adapter which some say solves both of these problems (it’s officially called the ‘Camera Connection Kit’), but reviews are currently mixed.
Whether you choose the iPad 2 because you want to future-proof your set up, or whether you just want the increased speed and in-built cameras, it’s undoubtedly the most refined tablet on the market at the moment. At present, it’s probably not going to replace your laptop, but who knows – the iPad 3 may be the one to turn the market around.
Photo by Andres Urena on Unsplash