Review

Review: iPad 2

 

The iPad 2 represents a follow-up to a key consumer device. Regardless if you will admit it or not, the iPad is a leading force in the tablet market and the original iPad spearheaded this movement. Unlike the launch of the original iPad, Apple is no longer the only player in the market and now face stiff competition from the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Tab.

It’s better to think of the iPad 2 as a refinement to the original iPad rather than a revolutionary redesign. The new iPad is thinner, has two new cameras, couple fancy magnets built in and a new dual-core processor. Depending on how you look at it, this brings the iPad up to the current market specs but hardware is not the only new feature, the iPad 2 also brings an update to iOS and a few new apps.

Hardware:

If you have ever used the first iPad, when you pick up the iPad 2, you will realize how big the old one felt. The iPad 2 feels thin but not cheap. There is still a considerable amount of weight to the unit, much like the first, but it is considerably thinner.

In your hands it is easy to hold and doesn’t feel slippery, nor does it have any sharp edges like the MacBook Pro. Fingerprints are always an issue with any touch based product and the iPad 2 is no exception. 

The overall speed of the device does feel improved. The new dual-core A5 seems to pick up the slack that the A4 left behind. While it’s not an upfront reason to buy an iPad 2, the speed improvements are noticeable, especially when opening and closing applications. It becomes more noticeable when playing games on the device as the frame rates are improved and overall it creates a better end user experience.  

The speaker on the back is average and isn’t much of an improvement over the original iPad. It gets the job done but is a mono channel speaker that leaves some to be desired. But let’s face it, most people are probably not buying the iPad listen to music in replacement of a home stereo. That being said, there is still room for improvement.

If the iPad has one glaring flaw, it’s the cameras. While the poor quality does not inhibit them from use, the caliber of your images is something the Xoom outshines the iPad 2. It feels as if Apple only put them in to meet demands but not to lead the market. In testing, trying to use the camera in anything other than optimal lighting conditions, it becomes a tedious process to get a photo that isn’t washed out or out of focus. It certainly feels like Apple cut a few corners here to save on the overall cost of the unit.

The screen is the same from the original iPad. It still has all the great viewing angles of the original and is capable for this size of a device. While a higher resolution screen would be preferred (hello iPad 3) it certainly does not disappoint either.

If Apple gets extra credit in any department across their entire line of products, its battery life is always top notch. The iPad 2 is no different, in the first day of ownership we were able to pull off an impressive 9.5 hrs (based on extrapolation, will update with final numbers with it actually runs out of juice). It would be easy to blow past the 10 hour mark too if you kept your video watching to a minimum.

Software:

As I said in the Xoom review, the hardware is only half the question. Software is nearly as important as the hardware itself, if you fail in this area, your product will struggle in the marketplace. Fortunately for Apple, their iOS has become a staple of the market for usability and App add-ons.

iOS 4.3 is nothing revolutionary anymore, it now becomes the benchmark that others are compared against. Fortunately for Apple, they still dominate this market. While honeycomb has a way to go, iOS on the iPad feels matured and complete. One other little note is that, like the first iPad, you do have to connect it to a computer before you can use it. 

The best part of iOS is the breadth of applications available. Without doing an extensive review of each, iMovie and Garageband showcase the iPad and trounce what others on the market currently offer. Both applications turn the iPad 2 from a consumption platform, to a creation utility. And not only are their quality applications from Apple and other tier 1 providers, but they are quality applications that make any loose end left open by Apple feel closed.

The browser is the staple of any tablet. Not much has changed on the iPad 2 but a newly laid out keyboard is present (iOS 4.3) and because of the faster CPU, it does feel a bit snappier when scrolling and zooming. If you have used an original iPad, the iPad 2 will feel similar but more refined.  

The version we tested came with the Verizon 3G chip inside allowing for data on the go. At this time we were able to get 1.13 Mbps down and .75Mbps up. While nothing fantastic, the setup was seamless to get onto Verizon's network. Unfortunately, Apple did not include an LTE radio in this device, which is such a shame considering that LTE is on other tablets.  

Conclusion:

If you are looking for a tablet, the iPad 2 is currently the king of the market. But, if you have an original iPad, there may not be enough to make you dig into your pocket and upgrade. The iPad 2 does have it shortcomings that leave room for improvement but at the same time, every other tablet on the market has its own flaws. There is no specific feature that makes the iPad 2 the best on the market, but it is the overall package of hardware and software working in unity that put this tablet at the top. Hardware is ubiquitous as this point in time, until the competition can land an OS that competes on every level with iOS, the iPad will reign supreme.   

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Regarding the questions about Netbooks vs iPads - they are different niches of the market.

I have a Macbook Pro - which handles the bulk of my work - but when I need to carry something light around - its either my iPhone - which is to small for decent notes or an iPad.
The only time I really use my Netbook these days - is when I need to run software like wireshark or do bandwidth testing where I can leave it plugged into a remote comms rack and run the tests.

When you deal with corporate requirements for passwords etc - and power management - you can either have an always on netbook (not power friendly) or one that hibernates.

I did comparisons on how long it took just to check eMail after resuming from a sleep state on an iPad - with passcode lock, and a Netbook with a password. Both devices had every app closed.. (Pretty much power up and then put to sleep once the boot cycle was complete)

In 15 seconds I was checking and reviewing my eMail on the iPad. it took longer then that to resume, type the password and then another 15-30 for Outlook to connect to exchange and synchronise.

Its even faster then checking my eMail on my Mac when it resumes from a low power mode with mail closed.

I went on holidays and could take one charger for my iPad/iPhone and with the Camera Connector kit I had up to 64 GB (although less in reality) where I could transfer photos from my dSLR to the iPad and wipe the card. As such - I had less cables, chargers and bulk in the luggage - plus I could watch a movie on the iPad on the flight.

That said - purchasing a tablet vs a netbook vs a notebook is a consumers choice. Some people will see the need, others wont. Once the initial sync has been done - with either a phone or iPad (and it doesn't even have to be your own iTunes/Computer) if you don't want to - you don't have to use iTunes.

But then you wont get upgrades, and backups if you don't have a computer running iTunes (I doubt people upgrade the firmware in there microwave and synchronise recipes to it once a week)

I might get this one. Seems nice to me. Addition of camera is great. However, I would still love if they reduce their price for uk customers...

To be fair, I never really liked the idea of the iPad.

However if i had one and jailbreaked it. I think i would love it

Really disappointed! In the year of the tablet the new features are very minimal. iPad 2 should be a lot better with many more features... but hey! This is [the good old] Apple!

I have the ipad 1, and my parents want one so I'm undecided if to get them a cheap v1 or get myself a v2 and give them my v1

I think once it comes to walmart i'll pick one up

I love the idea of having a tablet for reading PDF's browsing the web and checking my email. I have a laptop sitting next to the couch. But i'm always reaching for my ipod touch 4th gen. to check my mail because it's so quick. so now having it in a tablet would be AWESOME!

I couldn't agree more Wannes. Retina display is when I take the plunge. The camera is a gimmick, like it was with the 4th Gen Touch.

I just can't help but think that I should not get the 2 but instead wait for iPad 3. Retina display is one of those key features still missing making me wonder that the iPad 3 won't be long.

One other little note is that, like the first iPad, you do have to connect it to a computer before you can use it.
There's no excuse for this but anti-competitiveness. That have to get you to use another one of their products.

Beaux said,
There's no excuse for this but anti-competitiveness. That have to get you to use another one of their products.

Eh? It works on a Windows PC. But you do need iTunes. Free but dreadful.

gb8080 said,

Eh? It works on a Windows PC. But you do need iTunes. Free but dreadful.

Always thought that tablets were supposed to be appliances - didn't Steve Jobs say so, when he revealed the first generation? Since when do I need any other thing to use a appliance? What's next? A toaster that won't work without a microwave?
BTW: being locked into iTunes to this day has held me away from using any Apple device to this day…

MFH said,
BTW: being locked into iTunes to this day has held me away from using any Apple device to this day…
+1

Same here. That's one of the big reasons all of Apple's products are terrible.

Because a netbook is uncomfortable to use if the only thing you want it for is reading books, watching videos and browsing the web when on the train for example (although I do on occasion see people standing with a netbook watching a video).
I'm using a $200 rooted Nook Color by the way. Perfectly happy with it while I wait for "real" Android tablets to go way down in price.

quintesse said,
Because a netbook is uncomfortable to use if the only thing you want it for is reading books, watching videos and browsing the web when on the train for example
I don't see how a tablet is any more comfortable.

Beaux said,
I don't see how a tablet is any more comfortable.

Other than you can hold it in any orientation and use it from any angle? And have full use of the screen and gyroscope for control?

what said,

Other than you can hold it in any orientation and use it from any angle? And have full use of the screen and gyroscope for control?
You can hold and use a netbook with any orientation.

Beaux said,
You can hold and use a netbook with any orientation.

I don't see many people holding their netbook sideways, but I'm sure you've already made your decision about this so me replying is in fact pointless.

what said,

Other than you can hold it in any orientation and use it from any angle? And have full use of the screen and gyroscope for control?

explain "full use of the screen"…

MFH said,

explain "full use of the screen"…

You can use any part of the 10" screen to control it. That was bad wording.

what said,

I don't see many people holding their netbook sideways, but I'm sure you've already made your decision about this so me replying is in fact pointless.
What you see or don't see has no effect on what people can or can't do.

what said,

You can use any part of the 10" screen to control it. That was bad wording.


I really don't get it! On a 10" netbook I can use the whole screen to control it too… Do you mean, you can touch it? If so, well that's what defines a tablet, it doesn't really enable you to "fully control it"…

MFH said,

I really don't get it! On a 10" netbook I can use the whole screen to control it too… Do you mean, you can touch it? If so, well that's what defines a tablet, it doesn't really enable you to "fully control it"…

I already told you, it was bad wording. It's a 10" screen versus a miniature trackpad. I know what I prefer for reading and browsing the web.

Byron_Hinson said,

Neither do they


They are dreaming of Windows 8 - sometime around 2012… These tablets won't compete with the iPad and so on… (different target audience) Their best option currently would be to release WP7 as slate-os… </IMHO>

Got mine. Went to Target in my area, they had exactly 5 for sale, only the 32GB model in black, which is the model I wanted, so I was able to get it. Showed up at 3:30 and was 2nd in line, and the line was full (with the limit of the 5 people) by about 4:15. About 20 or so people wound up showing up afterwards only to find out the store only had 5 for sale. Meanwhile at the Apple Store in my area, there were about 500 people I am told (a man I was on line with at Target, his wife was at the Apple Store), and everyone in line was told the Apple store had enough to sell to them all. Well played Apple. Give the other retail stores hardly any so if people really are set on getting one, they are forced to go to your store which means a higher profit of margin for you. Brilliant move indeed. I lucked out and got 1 of the 5 at Target.

FTR, I had an iPad 1 thanks to my last job, so I knew what to expect. My wife was really most looking forward to getting this iPad 2, in fact she has it right now, I am on my laptop. But the iPad is what it is. A damn fine machine for the basics of everyday computing life. Especially from a getting information standpoint apps like Pulse and Flipboard really do show the strengths of the device itself and really are good resources of information. Hell for me, Angry Birds Seasons HD pretty much made it worth it. Besides some jaggies here and there, it looks great.

Happy with my purchase so far.

DirtyLarry said,
Got mine. Went to Target in my area, they had exactly 5 for sale, only the 32GB model in black, which is the model I wanted, so I was able to get it.
...
Happy with my purchase so far.

That seems really low

That seems odd. I went to my local Best Buy to get mine. They had a ticket system set up starting at 4:30. They had about 60 I would guess. Only Wi-Fi models, but they had a selection of each size in each color. I was able to get my black 32GB (#15) and I was abou 25th-ish in line. It took 3 different lines (1 to get the ticket, then 1 to get

DirtyLarry said,
Got mine. Went to Target in my area, they had exactly 5 for sale, only the 32GB model in black, which is the model I wanted, so I was able to get it.
...
Happy with my purchase so far.

That seems really low

That seems odd. I went to my local Best Buy to get mine. They had a ticket system set up starting at 4:30. They had about 60 I would guess. Only Wi-Fi models, but they had a selection of each size in each color. I was able to get my black 32GB (#15) and I was abou 25th-ish in line. It took 3 different lines (1 to get the ticket, then 1 to get

Don't know what happened above, sorry for the double short-post.

It took 3 different lines (1 to get the ticket, then 1 to get the iPad and then 1 to pay) and about 1.5 hours, but it was worth it. Been loving having a device to surf while I watch TV or video podcasts on the big screen without having a full laptop in my lap.

Also, Infinity Blade rocks on the iPad and GarageBand is really sweet.

Ipad is too big for me to carry everywhere. I opt'ed for the Dell Streak. Perfect size for a phone, runs 2.2 flawlessly, screen is just big enough for web viewing, PDF's (something I use daily), and an ok pen camera for the photos I need once or twice a day. To each his own, but for my daily needs, any "full size" tablet is too big.

naap51stang said,
Ipad is too big for me to carry everywhere. I opt'ed for the Dell Streak. Perfect size for a phone, runs 2.2 flawlessly, screen is just big enough for web viewing, PDF's (something I use daily), and an ok pen camera for the photos I need once or twice a day. To each his own, but for my daily needs, any "full size" tablet is too big.
That's what I don't understand about the tablet craze, why would you want something so big that can do so little? A netbook is the same size and can do so much more, and a phone is lots smaller and can do the same as the tablet.

Beaux said,
That's what I don't understand about the tablet craze, why would you want something so big that can do so little? A netbook is the same size and can do so much more, and a phone is lots smaller and can do the same as the tablet.

Because a 10" screen is better for internet/apps/gaming than a 3" screen.

what said,

Because a 10" screen is better for internet/apps/gaming than a 3" screen.
That's why you get a netbook, that can do a lot more than a tablet.

Beaux said,
That's why you get a netbook, that can do a lot more than a tablet.

However netbooks are pretty horrible to use, especially for casual use.
Tablets = Always on, no heat, no lag, better battery life, better res + screen usage, Apps, and no keyboard in the way.

Beaux said,
That's why you get a netbook, that can do a lot more than a tablet.

A netbook can only do as much as a laptop, only more slowly and on a smaller screen. The tablet has a different purpose (as above)

what said,

A netbook can only do as much as a laptop, only more slowly and on a smaller screen.
which is a lot more than a tablet can do.

what said,

A netbook can only do as much as a laptop, only more slowly and on a smaller screen. The tablet has a different purpose (as above)

True, opposed to a netbook a tablet can't replace a laptop, nor do anything that any other device can't do…

MFH said,

True, opposed to a netbook a tablet can't replace a laptop, nor do anything that any other device can't do…

Really? Can your laptop play all the iOS and Android OS games and applications? Can your laptop give you turn by turn Google Maps GPS? Can you hold your lap top in your hands and take an order from a buyer while you are standing? Tablets are going to replace lap tops in the very near future. What you will have are tablets that connect wirelessly to keyboards and mice when needed. Tablets are the next evolution of computers just as laptops were the next evolution of desktops.

Brian Miller said,
Mono speaker?
My thoughts exactly. This is just poor quality design in the sound department. Wtf?

Unix2 said,
My thoughts exactly. This is just poor quality design in the sound department. Wtf?

Seriously? From such a thin device, I am not sure what kind of sound are you expecting. Even on my laptop I rarely use the speakers. I always have my headphones with me. Plus it's highly unlikely that you'll be blasting that speaker when you are in the metro, on a plane or at the coffee shop.

So in other words, can they put better speakers? Probably, marginally....
Do they need better speakers for this tablet? Probably not.

Brian Miller said,
Mono speaker?

Just about every iProduct from Apple has mono speakers, nothing shocking really.

Brian Miller said,
Mono speaker?
Apple includes terrible speakers with most of their stuff. Even my wife's 10" Samsung Netbook has way better speakers than my 13" MacBook Pro.

virtorio said,
Apple includes terrible speakers with most of their stuff. Even my wife's 10" Samsung Netbook has way better speakers than my 13" MacBook Pro.

My MacBook Air 2 has stereo speakers.

Brian Miller said,
Mono speaker?

Does it matter? This device is so small, so what stereo effect are we talking about even if it had stereo?

Euphoria said,

Seriously? From such a thin device, I am not sure what kind of sound are you expecting. Even on my laptop I rarely use the speakers. I always have my headphones with me. Plus it's highly unlikely that you'll be blasting that speaker when you are in the metro, on a plane or at the coffee shop.

So in other words, can they put better speakers? Probably, marginally....
Do they need better speakers for this tablet? Probably not.

I think Apple have cutback for the speaker so they can make it thinner and reduce costs, better advertising for gullible people. Sound is a huge part of the media experience, don't try to play it down.

Love my PC with Cinema quality sound, a much better experience.

Stetson said,

There are two speakers behind the grill (see iFixit teardown).

yes there are indeed 2 speakers-side by side- that plays mono. i guess it's not magical if they separate the speakers to either end and give it stereo sound. oh wait! they may make it stereo for iPad3 and introduce it as a revolutionary new innovation in sound that will rock your world!

I just picked mine up. Loving it so far. Don't care about the cameras as it's an awkward device to be taking pictures with anyway. I was just waiting on a hardware refresh. Oh and posted from my iPad 2

metal_dragen said,
I just picked mine up. Loving it so far. Don't care about the cameras as it's an awkward device to be taking pictures with anyway. I was just waiting on a hardware refresh. Oh and posted from my iPad 2

Nice, have fun with it. I am still not sure if I'll be getting one...
Maybe after I get my Tax returns

Do the cameras really matter much? Who would take important photos with it anyways? Yeah it would be nice if it was high quality, but that's what I have a digital slr for. Who wants to be holding a 10" screen in the air to take a pic. Facetime is nothing special, if the cameras were higher quality the processor would have trouble even doing anything with it. Think about how high CPU usage is using a webcam on a PC with Skype.

StevoFC said,
Do the cameras really matter much? Who would take important photos with it anyways? Yeah it would be nice if it was high quality, but that's what I have a digital slr for. Who wants to be holding a 10" screen in the air to take a pic. Facetime is nothing special, if the cameras were higher quality the processor would have trouble even doing anything with it. Think about how high CPU usage is using a webcam on a PC with Skype.
They matter to a degree. I mean if your gonna be taking proper photos then yeah you'll pull out your DSLR or whatever you use for that, however, sometimes you might wanna take a quick photo of something and you don't have your DSLR at hand. It would be nice to be able to take a decent photo yes? rather then a grainy low quality photo....just my thoughts.

StevoFC said,
Do the cameras really matter much? Who would take important photos with it anyways? Yeah it would be nice if it was high quality, but that's what I have a digital slr for. Who wants to be holding a 10" screen in the air to take a pic. Facetime is nothing special, if the cameras were higher quality the processor would have trouble even doing anything with it. Think about how high CPU usage is using a webcam on a PC with Skype.

I would agree with you. I dont think that cameras on iPad 2 matter much when it comes to still photos. If I am to carry around a 10 inch tablet Ill definitely have my phone with me which has a better camera and is smaller and easier to maneuver and take photos.
If I really go out with intention to take photos, than I'll just get my Nikon DSLR.
I think the whole purpose of the cameras on the iPad 2 is for FaceTime and Skype.

Good review, Apple did the same thing with the cameras on the iPod touch 4G! feels more like they just threw them in to appease whinging customers (and ironically they are still whinging because the cameras are crap). Hopefully we'll see better cameras in the iPad 3/iPod touch 5G, but I somehow doubt it though

Oh God what is it with neowin and OLD NEWS this is irrelevant to my interests and so outdated!

Oh the article is good though!

Ently said,
Oh God what is it with neowin and OLD NEWS this is irrelevant to my interests and so outdated!

Oh the article is good though!

iPad 2 was released to the general public today. Unless Apple gave Neowin a pre-release version, this article is as up to date as u can get.

Ently said,
Oh God what is it with neowin and OLD NEWS this is irrelevant to my interests and so outdated!

Oh the article is good though!

Yeah Jeez man, I mean the iPad 2 has been known about for what? Like a whole week now! How could Neowin be so late to the party with a hands on review!

</sarc>

Ently said,
Oh God what is it with neowin and OLD NEWS this is irrelevant to my interests and so outdated!

Oh the article is good though!


I was being EXTREMELY sarcastic as well by the way haha

Titoist said,
Nice review, I will wait till iPad 3 before considering getting one. So another year of waiting.

Weren't there rumors of iPad 3 in 2011?

MFH said,

Weren't there rumors of iPad 3 in 2011?

Maybe, but I don't think there is any way in hell Apple would release 2 revisions in 1 year. Not going to happen. They want to milk this for as long as they can.

warwagon said,

Maybe, but I don't think there is any way in hell Apple would release 2 revisions in 1 year. Not going to happen. They want to milk this for as long as they can.


Agreed, Apple has never done that with any iOS-device. But honestly juding from what I've seen so far from iPad 2, it's not really more than just: "The iPad as it should have been released." On the other hand, one could have said that about the iPhone-revisions too…

s3n4te said,
Great review, but I still don't see why I need a tablet.

I'd love one for surfing the web, while lying in the living room. Or to read technical books/documentations - e.g. the C++ standard. I can't imagine to read "real" books on such a device though.
Scetching and inking would be nice too.

The one I'm currently interessted the most is the HP TouchPad - but I fear that webOS won't be really successfull as it's up against iOS and Android…
I wouldn't mind a Windows 7 slate either, as it would be perfect for inking - thanks to digitizers (Asus EEE Slate anyone?). But there doesn't seem to be one decent… (the EEE Slate's battery life is a shame!)
BTW: An even greater shame is that Microsoft still believes that they can "beat" the iPad with a Windows7-slate instead of focusing on WP7… </IMHO>

s3n4te said,
Great review, but I still don't see why I need a tablet.

I may not need a tablet, but I want one to replace my aging laptop. My needs have changed from when I was student and now I just need a media, internet device - not a productivity machine. Tablets serve that purpose because they can go on the internet, allow me some email and chatting, and be small but functional enough to follow me easily to the couch.

MFH said,

I'd love one for surfing the web, while lying in the living room. Or to read technical books/documentations - e.g. the C++ standard. I can't imagine to read "real" books on such a device though.
Scetching and inking would be nice too.

The one I'm currently interessted the most is the HP TouchPad - but I fear that webOS won't be really successfull as it's up against iOS and Android…
I wouldn't mind a Windows 7 slate either, as it would be perfect for inking - thanks to digitizers (Asus EEE Slate anyone?). But there doesn't seem to be one decent… (the EEE Slate's battery life is a shame!)
BTW: An even greater shame is that Microsoft still believes that they can "beat" the iPad with a Windows7-slate instead of focusing on WP7… </IMHO>

here check out Artrage http://www.artrage.com/artrage-ipad-main.html

http://www.artrage.com/artrage-ipad-features.html

deck said,

I may not need a tablet, but I want one to replace my aging laptop. My needs have changed from when I was student and now I just need a media, internet device - not a productivity machine. Tablets serve that purpose because they can go on the internet, allow me some email and chatting, and be small but functional enough to follow me easily to the couch.

Yeah , right now I need a media/intenet/gaming device not a productivity one.
And iOS it's an excelent way to centralize all this stuff, as Neowin says "Software is nearly as important as the hardware itself".

s3n4te said,
Great review, but I still don't see why I need a tablet.

Agreed. But will be gladly accepted if gave it to me -