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Faster Forward
Posted at 08:47 AM ET, 03/10/2011

iPad 2 Review Roundup

The iPad 2 is a worthy successor to the iPad and keeps Apple ahead of the tablet market. As Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, said in his review, “If you didn’t like the original iPad, you’re not going to like the iPad 2. If you liked the original iPad, you’re going to like the iPad 2 even better.” But is it a must-buy?

If you haven’t made your decision yet, here’s what the reviews are saying this morning.”

It’s sleeker and faster
Apple CEO Steve Jobs at Apple Special event to unveil the new iPad on March 2. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) (Justin Sullivan - GETTY IMAGES)

There’s almost universal agreement that this iPad, if nothing else, is a joy to hold and behold. Now 15 percent lighter and one-third slimmer, the new design “transforms the experience,” says The New York Times’ David Pogue. Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal said, “While the 1.33-pound weight isn’t that much less than the original’s, I found the difference noticeable when carrying the device.” Both said the rounded edges make a difference in overall comfort while using the device.

Despite it’s slimmer design, however, reviewers said that the tablet doesn’t feel flimsy. All in all, the tablet gets top marks for its body tweaks. “The iPad 2 is the MacBook Air of tablets, writes Laptop Magazine’s Mark Spoonauer.

There’s also been a noticeable speed upgrade. “The original never felt slow, but the faster I can start a new game of "Plants vs. Zombies," the better,” writes AP technology writer Rachel Metz.

“From the moment I started using the iPad 2 with familiar apps from my original iPad, I could tell that the system was faster. I thought scrolling through tweets in Twitterrific on my iPad was smooth as can be … until I scrolled through the tweet list on the iPad 2. Everything felt smoother, and items loaded faster,” wrote MacWorld’s Jason Snell.

But the cameras are...so-so

Engadget’s Joshua Topolsky is blunt about the tablet’s cameras, saying, “Let's just put this out there: the iPad 2 cameras are really pretty bad.” Apple’s definitely playing catch-up with its cameras, and many reviewers agreed with Engadget that the cameras could leave consumers wanting. Here, several reviewers said the Xoom’s cameras are undeniably superior.

Using the iPad for video can also be an awkward affair. Both still captures and video recording aren’t exactly conducive to the iPad’s size and many reviewers said the cameras were the most underwhelming feature on the device.Snell says, “It’s nice that they’re there, but they’re not particularly impressive in terms of quality.”

Even among camera fans, the camera quality was a downside.“If you’ve never used a tablet as a camera, you’re in for a treat; the entire screen is your viewfinder. It’s like using an 8-by-10 enlargement to compose the scene,” write Pogue. “Bafflingly, though, the stills are only 0.7 megapixels.”

Against the Xoom?


The new Motorola Inc. XOOM tablet is displayed for a photograph at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Feb. 13, 2011. Photographer:Denis Doyle/Bloomberg (Denis Doyle - BLOOMBERG)
Overall, the reviews say that the iPad 2 is still THE tablet to buy, even with a bevy of competitors waiting to take it down. Pogue and Mossberg both say the Xoom looks huge — “obese,” from the former and “bloated” from the latter — in comparison to the Apple tablet. Gruber did point out that the Xoom is a hair faster in CPU speed tests and Metz pointed out that the Xoom’s display is sharper as well.

Still, while the iPad 2 is not a perfect product, Engadget said, “...it needs to be said: the iPad 2 isn't just the best tablet on the market, it feels like the only tablet on the market.”

A key point from Mossberg, the iPad 2 never crashed, he said, unlike “every Android tablet I’ve tested.” Ouch.

Should I upgrade?

While the iPad 2 sounds amazing, most reviewers say it’s not a huge improvement over its predecessor. iPad owners, if you haven’t already made your decision to upgrade, you may want to wait. The reviews here say that it may be worth waiting for the iPad 3, whenever that may come out. If you can bear to, that is. Gruber says it best:

If you buy a new iPhone or iPod Touch every year, then, yes, you should replace your old iPad with the iPad 2. It’s thinner, a comparative joy to hold in hand, noticeably faster, gets the exact same battery life, and has more RAM (spoiler: 512 MB). If you don’t buy a new iPhone every year — if you have the good sense to hold onto them for more than a year before upgrading to a new model — then you’ll likely want to wait for a new iPad, too.

Bottom lines
SAN FRANCISCO - MARCH 02: Black and white versions of the new iPad 2. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) (Justin Sullivan - GETTY IMAGES)

WSJ: “I can comfortably recommend it as the best tablet for average consumers.“

NYT: “It means that for the first time, your heart can succumb to the iPad mystique — without having to ignore the practical input from your brain.”

Daring Fireball: “The iPad 2 is a solid second-generation iteration.... Like last year’s iPhone 4, it seems like technology from the near future.”

Macworld: “The first iPad was a bolt from the blue, a device that defined an entire category, and a tough act to follow. The iPad 2 follows it with aplomb.”

AP: “Without question, the iPad 2 is a great tablet. Still, this doesn't mean the first iPad is ready for the trash can. It's still a stellar gadget, and now it's cheaper (while supplies last) with the arrival of a successor.”

Engadget: For owners of the previous generation, we don't think Apple's put a fire under you to upgrade. Unless you absolutely need cameras on your tablet, you've still got a solid piece of gear that reaps plenty of the benefits of the latest OS and apps. For those of you who haven't yet made the leap, feel free to take a deep breath and dive in -- the iPad 2 is as good as it gets right now.

By  |  08:47 AM ET, 03/10/2011

Tags:  apple, tablets, gadgets

 
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