So, it's about time I get around to this. I've held off in posting this as I got mine on launch day and my parents have spent the last week waiting in long lines, just to be let down. Until today...when they had the luck of the Irish. So, how is the iPad 2?
I think I can break it down into a few different categories: Speed, Cameras, Software, and Thinness. And then...there's demand.
Speed. Is the iPad 2 really faster? The iPad 2 is faster than the original iPad. Apple claims it is about twice as fast, with 9x faster graphics. I'm not sure about the graphics, but they do seem to be faster. I imagine as apps continue coming out the graphics will really start to shine. When they take advantage of it, it'll be great. As far as the CPU speed...yes, yes, yes. Everything is faster on the iPad 2. Apps open and load faster, Safari is faster (thanks to iOS 4.3), and things don't hang like they used to. The original iPad is not slow, by any means, but there is a noticeable difference between it and the iPad 2.
Cameras. How are the cameras? Well, the iPad 2 has cameras. When Steve introduced it, he announced them as "video cameras" and didn't say anything else about them. When the iPhone 4 was announced, he made a huge deal about the quality of the camera. Take a hint from those facts, the cameras on the iPad are not quality. That's why he didn't talk much about them, that why he didn't display photos that had actually been taken on the device. The cameras are about the same as you seen on the current iPod Touch. Which means the rear camera is a little less than a megapixel. People will not be using it to take photos. Unless they are in a jam. I, unsurprisingly, don't think this is a negative aspect. Taking pictures with the iPad is a bit awkward. If you mix this fact with the idea that they need to keep costs down, this move makes total sense. If you want to use it for images, Apple sells a camera connection kit where you can plug in your camera and use the iPad to share the images.
Software How is iOS 4.3 and apps? iOS 4.3 is not too different from the 4.2.1 running on current original iPads. It has some nice updates to AirPlay and the good news is that if you have an original iPad, you get iOS 4.3 too. So what are you waiting for? Plug it in and update it! But...the apps...are unreal. Specifically GarageBand and iMovie. iMovie will only run on the new iPad and GarageBand will run on both, although much better on iPad 2. I own a lot of music apps for the iPad. A lot of them. GarageBand easily blows them all out of the water. It is diverse, it is well designed, and it is fast. You can record up to 8 tracks, whether midi or audio, and control and edit them with swipes of the finger. This is easily one of the best things Apple has done in awhile. iMovie is great too. It is not quite as powerful as the desktop version and doesn't hold a candle to FinalCut Pro, but for editing together vacation clips on the go, it works pretty well. It is not very customizable but works flawlessly. You can publish to all kinds of things right from the app as well. Here is an example of something I made of launch day: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ooud8Ppxto&] Anyone can edit movies now. That fact alone is VERY cool.
Thinness Does it really matter? The quick answer is no. The original iPad is pretty thin already, and still thinner than all the competition out there. But the iPad 2 is still thinner...with the same battery life. The iPad 2 is thinner than my iPhone 4. And, honestly, I don't see how it could get any thinner. It feels better in the hand than the original iPad, especially if you have a case on your original. The iPad is not really any lighter (although it is a little bit) but it feels lighter because of the thinness. It is a significant difference (although it wouldn't require someone upgrading their old iPad). I didn't consider how much this matters, but it does. On my music stand at church, this takes up a lot less room.
Demand. Do people want these? YES. I arrived to the Apple store for iPad 2 on launch day at 2pm. I knew they would start selling them at 5pm. I was a bit confused about how long the line was at first, but I was probably about 95 people back in line. I was worried if they would have enough. My parents went back to the mall in Florida every day since then. Today, they got one, or two. Apple really has 18 different versions of the iPad 2, and because of that, supply was low...especially if you were looking for a certain version. The sold 10 million original iPads last year. I suspect they sold at least 2 million iPads, maybe more in the last week. Every Apple store is out country wide and the online store now says you'll have to wait more than a month for delivery. More than a month.
It's a great device. If you're new to iPad, it is worth buying if you don't mind the short live $100 premium over last year's model. (If you want last year's model, look fast when they're gone, they're gone.)
I suspect that Apple might be ready for you to buy too.
With the exception of RIM's playbook, I don't see any competition for it anytime soon. Seriously. They are way ahead.
Do you have one? Do you want one? Please share!