First Look: Apple iPad 2
My previous blog – Battle of the Tablets gave a brief introduction to the technical aspect of the 3 major tablets available in the market at present. Well, after much queuing and a few strong-arms tactics, Tony Crabtree (Managing Director at Juniper Research) being an Apple fan himself, obtained an iPad 2 over the weekend, thereby giving me the chance to play with – sorry, run the rule over – this fantastic piece of gadgetry. Being a gadget freak myself, I had my own expectations of the iPad2 and was eagerly awaiting a hands-on experience to gauge how different it is from the previous model. Faster & More Powerful… The iPad2 indeed is thinner and lighter, but it is certainly not light enough for consumers not to feel the weight – having said that, one could definitely feel the difference between the two versions. However, the first thing you notice when you play with it is its speed – it is faster, and more powerful, than its predecessor. Loading applications and switching between apps are faster and quicker. The iOS 4.3 is certainly fast and runs on a 1GHz dual core Apple A5 processor. The changes that Apple has included are not revolutionary, but rather something we have always expected them to include. For starters, the addition of two cameras does tend to outweigh the few disappointments iPad 2 brings along – the back camera is able to shoot HD 720p video and the front camera shoots video and takes pictures on a VGA camera – although I’m not convinced that it is a game changer. In addition, the iPad 2 is reported to run more number of large screen optimized third-party apps compared to the very few numbers available on the Android Platform. FaceTime seem to work fine, but screen freezing seems to be an issue amongst a number of users. Skype has not been optimized for the iPad’s larger screen as it runs on a small window by the middle - it cannot be stretched to fill the screen size but can be zoomed in. Disappointments… It still has the same 9.7 inch screen size as the original model, with LED backlit and multi touch display. Pardon me if I am wrong, but the finger print resistant oleophobic coating that the display is supposed to have doesn’t quite work: I could see finger prints all over the display, a frequent complaint with the iPhone. Furthermore, I am a tad bit disappointed iPad2 lacks the retina display feature which the iPhone 4 possesses. Next we come to Apple’s latest add-on: a thin, durable Smart Cover that magnetically aligns itself. Its purpose: a handy stand, which wakes and sleeps your iPad and keeps your screen clean. Well I am not so sure about the ‘keeping your screen clean’ purpose. The Smart Cover is supposed to have an inner lining with microfiber which Apple states will clean your iPad 2's screen. If so, it simply is not working in the case of our model. It just looks good and can be used as a handy stand. (In addition, there are also now innovative third party iPad 2 covers available that look even better…) The Verdict…. Overall, the iPad 2 is a great device to own, is very impressive from an engineering perspective, and seem sure to retain Apple’s market dominance – for the present at least. What remains to be seen is the scale of the challenge that offerings from other vendors will pose to this dominance of the marketplace.