The Apple iPad 2, arguably the best tablet computer on the planet, has just received a stylish makeover. The brainchild of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, it sports the latest high-tech specs and features
Apple iPad 2 Design and build
Lifting the iPad 2 out of the box, you almost feel like you’re handling Grandma’s fine china - such is the skinniness of the 8.8mm frame. Remarkably though, the tablet retains a very sturdy feel. It’s not the least bit fragile and there’s zero flexibility. It’s a piece of engineering that defies physics.
The weight has also dropped. At 601g (for the WiFi version) the tablet has shed 15 per cent of its body mass. Big deal, you say, but you will notice the difference. It’s still not Kindle-light though, and we still found the one-handed grip uncomfortable.
While indoor performance is still great and colours are truly vivid for gaming, photos and videos, in the post-Retina Screen world, text still isn’t quite as crisp as we’d like and it’s still pretty useless in sunlight. It also attracts a lot of finger marks. Lets hope an improved screen comes on any iPad 3 next year.
Apple iPad 2 iOS 4.3
Beyond the design refresh, the iPad 2 comes packing the new iOS 4.3 operating system. You get the usual folders, multitasking, Airplay and customisable screens. iTunes Home Sharing, another addition, offers a seamless liberation of your entire music library over Wi-Fi, with one-touch.
The new OS also allows you to customise the side switch to either mute the device or lock the screen. It’s a handy bonus, but by no means earth shattering.
Apple iPad 2 Processor and graphics
A quantifiable improvement comes with the new dual core 1GHz Apple A5 processor, replacing the A4 by offering twice the power. If you thought this thing was nifty before, then wait until you get a hold of the iPad 2.
Apple iPad 2 Cameras
Of course the other change comes with the addition of cameras. FaceTime video calling is now available for iPad and while the quality won’t blow you away it does the job. The rear-facing camera is passable, offering decent snaps in good conditions, but drab colours and limited detail the rest of the time. It’s nowhere near as good as the iPhone 4’s excellent 5-megapixel offering.
There’s 720p video recording on board, which comes in really handy for the brilliant iMovie app, but the iPad 2 has to be the most ridiculously shaped video camera of all time. Are you really going to use it in public?
Apple iPad 2 Smart Covers
When we first saw the Smart Covers opinion on the T3 team was split as to the usefulness. A lot was made about these new flimsy, bendy covers and they do work pretty well, folding like origami to offer appropriate stances for watching video and typing, while the magnet clings stubbornly to the chassis.
It will help your battery by putting the device to sleep whenever closed, but they’re expensive (from$39) and offer no protection for the back of your iPad. If you drop it, Smart Cover won’t save it. We’d take a look at what other manufacturers – like Griffin – come up with before buying.
Apple iPad 2 Battery
In terms of battery life, we got around 6 hours of near-solid Wi-Fi surfing, downloading apps and playing games, which is very respectable. The extra processing power doesn’t seem to be provide any supplemental drain on the battery.
Apple iPad 2 Verdict
Admittedly, the iPad 2 is more of an evolutionary step for Apple, akin to the jump from iPhone 3 to 3GS. If you already own an iPad then you’re not missing out too much by waiting for the next iteration before you upgrade. If you held off from buying over the last 12 months, then the iPad 2 is a brilliant reward for your patience. Get out and buy it.
It’s taken nearly a year since the launch of the first iPad for any manufacturers to come close to creating a tablet that can rival it. Even then, those that look promising like the Motorola Xoom run such an early OS (in Android 3.0) it will be a while before they can rival the iPad in terms of apps.