Hands on with the iPad 2 in New Zealand

It’s set to launch in New Zealand at 5pm local time on Friday the 25th but I travelled to Sydney on Wednesday to pick up a review unit.  Here’s my guide to the 2nd generation “magical” iPad.

A year ago, Apple gave us the iPad and within days, the nation’s homes became addicted to Plants versus Zombies and big screen Angry Birds.

Now, unbelievably, the iPad 1 is about to go out of date as Apple releases the faster, lighter and slimmer iPad 2.

The big question is – is it worth sticking your iPad 1 on Trademe and moving on up to the iPad 2?  Let’s consider the facts.

What is it?

The 2nd generation of the massively popular tablet computer created by Apple.

It was THE gadget of 2010.  People laughed when it first came out, calling it an oversized iPod touch.

Now, having sold 15m units in a year, Apple is having the last laugh.

What’s new/cool about it?

In a nutshell, it’s slimmer, lighter, faster and has two cameras (one front and one rear).

  • New design makes it 33% thinner and 15% lighter – it really has a better feel “in the hand”.
  • It’s using a new dual core 1gb processor – which means? It loads and plays programmes and apps faster.
  • Has a front and rear facing camera so you can video chat (on Facetime) and record movies.
  • It has a new protective detachable sleeve called a Smart Cover which not only cleans and protects the screen, it can fold into a stand and when it covers the screen it puts it into sleep mode, saving battery life.
  • Despite the added processing power you still get 10 hours of battery life per charge.
  • With a $799 starting price it’s still a reasonably priced bit of tech.
  • New output to HDTV that exactly replicates what’s on screen

But?

  • Same screen as last time – why not a better high resolution one?
  • The cameras are very low resolution (vga and 1mp) when compared to new competitors like the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (2mp front facing,  5 and 8 mp rear facing respectively)
  • Those smart covers are additional – $69 or $119 for the leather version.
  • It still only has one speaker.
  • It still does not have a usb connector or SD card connection option – why not when most normal people transfer their media this way?

What do you use an iPad for anyway?

  • Browsing the web
  • Watching online video
  • Playing games
  • Email
  • Video chat
  • Playing itunes music
  • And then there are all the apps to add to that – movie editing, music making, DJ’ing, business presentations.

Is there any competition or is it all one way traffic?

  • It may have been the first but it’s not the only large format tablet device, we will soon see the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
  • Both of these tablets have better hardware (IMO).
  • What they don’t have is the 65,000 apps that Apple has for the iPad.

Details?

  • Available in electronics stores from 5pm Friday, hopefully avoiding the debacle launch of the Apple iPhone 4 which launched late and with limited stock.
  • Available in black or white.
  • 6 models available, starting at $799 (16gb storage, wifi only) working all the way up to $1289 for the most expensive (64gb of storage and 3G plus wifi).
  • Price is the same as when the original iPad went on sale.
  • Your data plan for 3g is separate.

So, to answer the question. Should you trade up from the iPad 1?  Well if you get a good price for your original iPad on Trademe (over $400-$500) then perhaps, yes. Hardcore Apple geeks and iPad fans will no doubt want the best available model and the iPad 2 is pretty good step up from the first version. But not a huge step up.  If you don’t own an iPad but want one, obviously it makes sense to get the iPad 2.  As for me?  I’ll be waiting for the iPad 3 with my fingers crossed that it’s a greater leap forward.

5 thoughts on “Hands on with the iPad 2 in New Zealand

  1. good concise review John. personally i don’t think the camera quality is a huge issue, it is acceptable for most uses (and users).But check out the dumb Samsung Galaxy dual model strategy….Apple will lead the way for a while yet.
    PS But who is the girl in the photo on your desk???

    • There is a photo of my lovely wife Helen on the desk Greg, but I’m guessing you found your eyes drawn to Ms Kardashian on the front of FHM 😉

  2. I am in the market for a Tablet. I have strong reservations about getting locked into the iTunes world. Therefore an Android tablet looks initially the obvious way to go.

    Hardware tho is an important factor in the equation. Im a speed freak. From what Ive read so far (Anands testing is probably the most comprehesive ) the iPad hardware is superior to any of the competition.

    The A5 is better than the Tegra 2 and the iPad graphics chip more capable than the Nvidia offering. The screen on the iPad has better contrast, brightness and viewing angle. Although the Andriods have better resolution the dpi is similar.
    I have avioded the camera issue as its unimportant. If I want a good picture I will use a dedicated camera

    John, you state in your review that in your opinion the Xoom and Galaxy Tab have superior hardware than than the iPad. Im interested in your reasons as it is contary to any thing I have read so far.

    • I’ve only had the Galaxy Tab 10.1 for 24 hours but it’s a different beast from the iPad 2. In terms of the hardware the Tab has a higher resolution screen and those two cameras are way superior (it’s also nice to have a flash). Apple are a bit disingenuous to suggest the lower res cameras are okay because they are there for video not for stills – it still feels like they short changed their public.

      I would buy a Tab 10.1 if I was after a non Apple Tab (but i’m not a member of the anti iTunes lobby). Though I am interested in finding out whether the slimmer Galaxy Tab 10.1 and 8.9 are going to make it to NZ. Interestingly, they’ve got lower res cameras – I wonder why.

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