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Apple iPad 2 Review – Is It Time to Buy the Tablet?

By Erik Folgate

apple ipad 2If you’re like me and you use an iMac, tote a Macbook Pro or Macbook Air, and carry an iPhone, then you probably pay close attention to all of the new product launch announcements from Apple, whether you need a new gadget or not.

You also know that there was something revolutionary about the iPhone, and that the iPad has that same quality. They both brought a lot of new users into the Apple world. I like to call them the “gateway drugs” to becoming an all-Apple user. But when the first iPad came out, I warned that you should wait for the next version. Apple recently announced that the second generation of the iPad is on its way, and it’ll be packed with a lot of features that the first one should have had.

The iPad 2 isn’t just a speed bump in the iPad line the way the iPhone 3GS was, between the iPhone 3G and iPhone 4. This version is the iPad you need to buy if you’ve been looking to replace your laptop or complement it with a feature-packed tablet computer.

New iPad Features

  1. Front- and rear-facing cameras. I thought the cameras should have been part of the original iPad, but that’s what Apple does. They rope in the early adopters, and they leave out key features, making savvy Apple customers wait a year for the good stuff.
  2. FaceTime. Now, with front and rear cameras, you can FaceTime on the iPad. This completes the sweep of Apple products, so now you can FaceTime on all major Apple devices.
  3. Gyroscope. Apple first rolled out this cool little feature with the iPhone 3GS. It basically adds an extra dimension to the motion that the device detects, so all of the cool games that so accurately pick up every move that an iPhone makes will be available to the iPad 2.
  4. Color change. The outside bezel is the classic Apple white.
  5. Size. The iPad 2 is a lot thinner, now just 8.8-mm thin, compared to 13.44 mm in the first generation. It’ll be thinner than the iPhone 4. The iPad 2 also weighs just 1.3 pounds, 0.2 pounds less than the original.
  6. More carriers: The 3G version will work on both AT&T and Verizon, though you’ll need a different model for both GSM and CDMA.
  7. Faster processor. The new model will have a dual core A5 processor chip, which is a proprietary chip designed and developed by Apple. Processor speed needs to keep getting better, especially because you’ll be demanding more from your device.

iPad 2’s Coolest (and Most Needed) Feature

The iPad 2 will connect to high-definition displays via a $39 HDMI-out cable, which will transfer video (up to 1080p) from your iPad to, for example, your HDTV. The connector even charges the iPad while you’re using it. This is a huge upgrade because now you can put your iPad on a stand next to your LCD TV and watch HULU Plus, Netflix, and HD movies from it. Also, as iPads become even more popular in the business world, this feature enables a much better viewing experience when you hook it up to a high-def projector to run presentations. It’s a bummer that you’d need to get an attachment and spend an extra $39, but it’s the only way for Apple to stick to its design philosophy and keep the iPad razor thin. And I never hear anyone complain about how the iPad looks.

What’s Still Missing?

  1. A larger screen. I think the iPad’s screen is nice, but I would like them to reduce the size of the bezel around the screen to free up space for a larger screen without making the device itself bigger. The iPhone 4 doesn’t have a huge bezel, so why not change up the iPad design a little in favor of a larger screen?
  2. A crisper screen. When the iPhone 4 revealed the retina display, it was one of the “Ahh” moments for the product. I guess Apple hasn’t figured out how to duplicate it on the iPad with a bigger screen – yet.
  3. Camera flash. Unlike the iPhone 4, the iPad 2 still lacks camera flash capability. This isn’t a big deal if it’s daytime and you’re outside, but if the lighting is bad or you’re out at night, this can be a major inconvenience.
  4. Microsoft Office. I have a feeling that these applications are missing because of resistance from Microsoft, but why not offer iPad versions of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint if so many people are buying these devices? If Apple can get Microsoft to stop dragging their feet on this issue and offer Office products in the iOS app store, you’d see a huge increase in demand for iPads in the corporate arena, particularly for salespeople and other executives who travel a lot.

Pricing

Probably the greatest news about the new iPad is that Apple won’t increase the price. Units will be available in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models, and they’ll start shipping on March 11, 2011. Prices start at $499 for 16GB Wi-Fi-only models and range up to $829 for a fully-loaded model.

You may want to buy an iPad because you can foresee it helping you be more productive and get more done on the go. Or you may be interested in selling your laptop and replacing it with an iPad. You’re also not going to finance the purchase under any circumstances, because these types of items┬ádepreciate faster than a bowling ball sinks in the ocean. As with any electronics, furniture, or appliances, eventually the “great” financing terms will blow up in your face.

Is It (Finally) Time to Buy It?

If you’ve been in the market for a tablet or a laptop replacement and you have the extra money already set aside, then now is the time to jump on the iPad 2. I don’t see a ton of features coming in the next one that would make this one obsolete. I foresee the iPad 3 having more iOS features and possibly a better looking screen, but that’s not something you’ll be mad about not having. If I had the original iPad and I saw that Apple put the two cameras and the HDMI hookup in the new one, I’d be pretty upset. The rule of thumb with the Apple is to always wait until the second version comes out. The original iPhone was horrible, but the 3G was a great improvement. With the iPad, it’s no different. So if you’ve been saving for a tablet, I’m giving you the green light on the iPad 2.

Do you have buyer’s remorse from jumping on the first iPad too quickly? Are you pre-ordering the iPad 2, or will you continue to wait? What alternative devices do you prefer, and why?

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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  • http://safemoneyproducts.com Bob O.

    The hardware certainly is an improvement over the first iPad.

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