The iPad 2: First impressions

SmartCompany’s tech reporter snapped up his new iPad 2 after waiting in line for more than four hours on Friday. After a weekend of playing with the new gadget, here are his first impressions.

 

Despite the plethora of Android tablets coming onto the market, Apple still maintains the lead. The iPad 2 is by far the most powerful tablet on the market for its price, and seems set to stay there for some time.

 

The body of the iPad is one-third thinner than the original and the size difference, combined with a slight reduction in weight, make the iPad 2 easier to hold. The flattened surface makes it feel as if it’s just a slightly thick folder, making it easier to carry alongside other documents, or even by itself.

 

Yet the iPad 2 actually feels stronger than the original despite losing some of its bulk. The glass is more durable on this version, which makes the whole gadget feel quite a bit more solid.

 

Apple is starting to market the iPad as a content creation device, and not just a gadget for watching media and browsing the internet. The inclusion of the A5 chip is an obvious move in this direction, as it allows you to work much faster with apps that let you access remote desktops, manage and annotate documents and PDFs and create presentations and slideshows.

 

These apps open extremely quickly on the iPad 2. Accessing files within content management apps is extremely speedy. Testing with the LogMeIn remote desktop app over WiFi connections was painless, and much faster the original iPad.

 

Switching between those apps is also quick, meaning you can look up files in one program and open them in another without having to wait several seconds for them to load.

 

However, the iPad still has trouble with loading large spreadsheets.

 

Battery life is good – over 10 hours with heavy use.

 

But while the iPad 2 is a good business tool, it not yet a replacement for a laptop.

 

Apple is getting there, but typing for extended periods of time on the iPad is still a bit of a chore. If you need to get longer typing done you can sync with the wireless keyboard, but right now the iPad itself is more of a supplementary tool than a main computing device.

 

Apple added two new cameras into the iPad. They’re useful for video conferences, but not much else. Don’t expect to be shooting high-quality video or taking pictures while travelling – you’ll be disappointed. The lenses will surely be upgraded in future versions, but for now, they’re just for FaceTime calls.

 

The other main issue is the lack of ports. USB, SD card and HDMI connectivity can be achieved through add-ons, but they shouldn’t have to be. Using the iPad is annoying without them. These features are becoming standard on other tablets and Apple should introduce them in the next update if they don’t want to be left behind.

 

There are plenty of covers already available online, but the SmartCover is definitely worth a look if you want something casual to protect your iPad.

 

The only problem is that it’s fairly expensive – $39 for a polyurethane and $79 for a leather case. For that price you can get different versions, including portfolio-style covers, from other manufacturers like Belkin and Griffin.

 

Overall, the iPad is a much better experience than the first. It’s sleeker, faster and much more comfortable to hold.

 

But this still isn’t a complete replacement for a laptop. If you’re after a solid business tool, then the iPad 2 is a good choice – just don’t expect it to become your sole computer quite yet.

 

This article first appeared on SmartCompany.

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