Apple’s first iPad truly established a new market for tablets. No longer an under-powered PC wannabe, the iPad gave us a silky smooth touch interface, great internet browsing and access to a raft of apps especially designed for the screen, which allowed the iPad to all but corner the market. But as more credible Android tablets approach, does Apple’s new tablet still pass muster?
What we like
If you’ve played around with the first iPad, you know exactly what to expect from the iPad 2. The capacitive touschscreen is still responsive and smooth- and still has that ooh factor that Apple fans purr over.
The 9.7 inch screen is superb for web-browsing, and high resolution video from the likes of YouTube and BBC iPlayer look great. The new iPad can also be connected to bigger TVs through a new HDMI adapter, though it’s sold separately.
Mentioning the BBC iPlayer, Apple’s App Store is still the leader when it comes to the range and quality of apps. Some of the more heavy duty apps, especially games, now run like a dream, and loading times for apps like Infinity Blade and Garage Band have been massively shrunk.
Compared to the original, the iPad 2 is noticeably slimmer, and although it’s technically a little lighter, comparing the two in our hands it’s hard to tell. Regardless the iPad 2 battery promises at least 10 hours of use from one charge, which is amazing given the size of the screen.
They’ve also flattened out the back so it not longer has the tendancy to spin around like the first iPad. We like how they’ve moved the speaker outlet to the back, as we’re now less likely to mute the audio when we hold the iPad.
Two cameras have been added too, with the back-facing camera capable of record 720p video, while a front-facing camera now brings FaceTime to the iPad,
These cameras also open up more possibilities for future apps on the tablet, like some of the augmented reality apps that overlay information, like road names or shop opening times, onto what the camera sees.
What we don’t like
Though the new cameras are a welcome addition, they’re certainly lacking when it comes to image quality, especially for stills. Although we don’t expect people to be swinging their iPads around to take photos, when you do take a snap, we would want the quality to be much better than what the iPad 2 offers. Most mid-range smartphones do a better job.
The iPad 2 still isn’t a viable option for work, even if you can get work to pay for it. We would have liked haptic feedback on the keyboard- where your keyboard presses create tiny vibrations that help you type better, and faster.
If you own the first iPad, aside from the mediocre cameras, there isn’t any need to upgrade to this. The iPad 2 is faster, but for web-browsing and most apps, it’s hard to find much difference betweeen the two.
The original iPad was the best tablet available a year ago. Now, the iPad 2 is the best tablet available, though it really hasn’t diverted from the original formula.
We’re still waiting for a proper Android-powered riva
l to appear, a year on. Whether that’s because the first iPad was so far ahead of the curve, we don’t know, but if you’re looking for a tablet, this is the best. We wouldn’t say it was perfect, but it is the certainly the best tablet experience currently available.
Thanks to Orange for the review model.