I’ve had a few weeks of hands-on time with the new iPad2 now and I can finally offer an opinion on whether the upgrade is worth it.
The answer is a solid yes.
I base this on a couple of factors, not the least of which is the solid resale value of the first version. My original iPad was a top-of-the-line 64GB version. About a week after its successor’s March 11 release, its resale value on Gazelle was US$530. That amount, subtracted from the $829 price for an iPad2, gave me a net cost of $299.
For that I got the latest version, including 3G service on Verizon, dual-core processors and twice as much system RAM, from 256MB to 512MB.
So what is the real difference?
For one, the dual-core processor and the extra RAM give the iPad2 noticeably more horsepower in everyday tasks such as web browsing or using apps like Friendly for Facebook. With apps that take a little more “oomph” — such as The Daily Scrabble or even, yes, Angry Birds — the tablet is much more fluid and responsive. Movies launch quicker, photos pop onto the screen and the whole thing just seems faster. (Professional benchmarks prove this.)
The iPad2 has improved portability. It’s 33 per cent thinner than the original and, at 1.3 pounds, about 15 per cent lighter. You would not think this would make much difference, but the new version just feels better.
The Smart Cover, the iPad2’s revolutionary cover, really adds to the experience. I didn’t fully understand the fuss around the cover until I got one. I opted for the $69 leather version instead of the $39 polyurethane version.
The cover’s secret is hidden magnets that form hinges on one side and, on the other, firmly close.
A video on the Apple website explain it all but basically some hidden magnets on one side form the hinges and the other close the other side firmly. It folds up to form a stand. If that was not cool enough, when the magnet closes, the iPad2 shuts off. When you open the flap, the device turns back on.
The cover has a few faults. One is that it leaves the back uncovered and susceptible to scratches. (A number of third parties have already come out with back covers or options instead of the Smart Cover.) But the lack of a rear cover keeps the device thin and light.
Also, if you carry the iPad2 in a backpack or other bag and jostle it a lot, your tablet can turn on and off quite a bit, draining the battery. The iPad2 will turn itself off after a few minutes but a number of these events will leave you without a full charge after a while.
I just plan to take care how I handle the iPad2. All in all, it’s a great upgrade. I recommend getting it — if you can find one.
James Derk owns CyberDads, a computer services firm in Evansville, Ind. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org