Being the consummate gadget man, I succumbed to the iPad 2 upgrade. In fact, I even ordered it at 1:01am, only 1 minute after they went on sale (at the Apple online store). Despite my jumping on the bandwagon, it took 13 days to come too. Mostly because I got a 3G model and those were slow to ship.
In any case, over the last year I have been pleasantly surprised at how incredibly useful the iPad is. I’ve already written one article about it, which is all still true. I owned a kindle before the iPad and found that to be of very limited use. Primarily it was good for long vacations where I previously would have dragged 20-30 paperbacks (weighing down my suitcases). With the kindle, just one little device covered that. And the thing had a tremendous battery life. But reading on it was annoying, mostly because the page turning was so slow and the screen only held about 60% of s single paperback page.
Enter the iPad. Seemingly just a giant iPhone, it’s actually radically different. As a book reader it holds a full page, and it’s fast. You can flick back and forth fast enough that it’s “browsable.” This was excruciating on the kindle. The screen is a little harder on the eyes, and the battery life only 10-12 hours instead of weeks, but the speed and size are more important to me. Plus, when you get an email, or feel the obsessive compulsive need to check today’s blog stats, you can just flip over instantly (IOS 4.2 on — so useful I was running the beta for months). It’s also just a darn comfortable way to do all your casual computer crap in bed, in the kitchen, watching tv, etc. There are a number of reasons why. Unlike even a laptop, it’s instant on, you can tuck it in the couch and grab it when an email comes in or you feel the need to look up actors on imdb (which I now do constantly). The battery life is such that as long as you charge it while you sleep, you can do whatever the hell you want with it during the day and not worry. This is so not true of any laptop, including the amazing MacBook pros and airs with their long battery life. You still have to plug them in if you are going to use them all day. The iPad isn’t a necessity, but it sure is convenient.
Now as to the iPad 2. If you don’t have an iPad and are at all interested (plus have the disposable $500-829). Get one. The first gen ones are going on sale cheap now too. But if you already own a first gen iPad, it’s more about personal tolerance for being slightly outdated. The new one doesn’t do anything the 1st can’t except for video chat. But it is thinner, lighter, and about twice as snappy. For me, that alone is worth it. As I said, I’m a gadget freak and I use the pad all the time, everyday. The thinness and weight are noticeable, as is the speed. It’s certainly snappier. Apps load faster, the muitasking flips between apps much more smoothly. Not that the first iPad was slow, but this is faster. If you are into the games the GPU is supposedly 9x faster. Infinity Blade and the like seem very zippy now, and they weren’t bad before.
One other thing worth mentioning is the developer only multitouch gestures added to iOS 4.3. Now to use these, you have to connect the iPad to your Xcode 4 enabled Mac and turn on developer mode. This is a free download for devs, or a $5 purchase from the new Mac AppStore. I’ve only been using these for a few days but they’re awesome. Here’s yet another example of how Apple likes gets the little things right. There are 4 gestures. One to bring up and down the multitasking bar. Another to go back to the home screen, and a pair to flip back and forth between apps. It’s surprising how convenient and natural these are.
I haven’t gotten used to the subtle button changes on the new iPad yet. There is more angle to the bevel and this gives the physical controls, including the docking jack, a slightly increased inset, but I’m sure in a couple of days they’ll seem normal.
I got one the the crazy new covers too. I love the cool magnetic lock and the auto turn on / turn off feature. We will see how well the cleaning component does. The thing is ultra slim and light in the cover, particularly compared to the cushy but bulky full leather case I had on the old one. But on the other hand it’s a bit slick, and I’ve already fumbled it once and certainly don’t want to drop it. I might have to see if someone sells some sticky little tape/decal. That was a nice thing about my old case. I have a thin sticky rubber case on my iPhone 4 for just for the texture.
All and all the iPad 2 is like everyone says, a typical Apple evolutionary tuneup to an already brilliant product. Certainly it’s better in nearly all ways, and the combination of Apple design, software, and heavy vertical integration makes it hands down the only tablet worth considering. I’m writing this blog post on it while out on the town, and while theoretically I could do that on my phone, I never would.