Finally an iPad Worth Buying

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I’m a tech geek.  In fact, it’s my job to stay up-to-date on technology and make recommendations to my school.  So when Apple’s first iPad came out, I was intrigued.  Then I went to the store and played with it.  No USB?  No camera?  No microphone?  Never mind.  It was a giant over-sized iPod Touch, whose capabilities had been surpassed by the iPhone 4 and other non-Apple products.  I figured I would wait for the next generation of iPad; that is, until my boss came up to me and said, “I’m buying you an iPad, and I want to see if you think it’s something our school should invest in.”  I kept my disgruntled opinions of the iPad to myself and graciously accepted the new toy.

The first thing I noticed as a teacher was that only certain apps could be displayed when using its video out adapter.  That was extremely disappointing.  If I wanted to show a doc, pdf, or a website, I had to buy a $10 app that gave some more video out options, though still very limiting.  On the other hand, this touch tablet had some very nice features and made me anxiously salivate for when Apple would come out with something worth spending money on.

And then came the iPad 2.  Oooooh.  Even two weeks after its original release date, I waited an hour and a half in line  to get mine.  The first thing I noticed was it’s slimmer design (which I didn’t think was possible).  Be careful when throwing out paper or magazines.  With a weight of only 1.3 pounds and 1/3 inch of girth, you might accidentally throw out the iPad 2 by mistake.

Like the iPhone 4, it offers front and back cameras, Face Time, and the ability to take still photos (though the quality is lackluster) and videos at 720p.  There’s no flash, but really, if you’re going to rely on using the iPad as your primary camera, then be prepared to get some looks (and I’m not talking about iPad envy).  However, these cameras open up options such as editing movies  as well as Skype or Facetime chatting.

One of the greatest improvements in the iPad 2 is its capability to output an HD signal. Optional HDMI and charge adapter – $39.

In my opinion, the greatest improvement is that the iPad 2 allows you to mirror your device and output a signal in HD.  With a $39 HDMI adapter, I plugged my iPad 2 into my TV and watched Netflix, and the picture was beautiful.  The adapter also has another port, so you can charge your iPad while doing this. Brilliant, yet what should be expected of Apple.

The iPad 2 is faster than its predecessor and boasts a 1 GHz dual core A5 processor (iPad 1 had a single core A4 processor), and it doubles the RAM (512MB vs. 256MB).  It’s amazing to consider the upgrades on the iPad 2, while still making it 33% smaller.  The battery life hasn’t change – 10 hours, which is still very generous and impressive, considering batteries are one of the heaviest components in laptops.

And of course… there’s the apps.  iPad has access to all of the apps available in the App Store (even the ones for the iPhone, though the display quality will be weak).  Fortunately, developers are pumping out apps specifically for the iPad, and with a better processor and a graphics card that’s 9 times faster, iPad dedicated apps will become even more impressive in the future.

With all the other tablets out there, why go with Apple’s iPad 2 over another tablet?  Good question.  In some cases, it all depends on what you’re looking for.  If you’re looking for a stellar camera, you’re not going to be satisfied with the iPad 2.  But a lot of aspects such as processing speed, battery life, will be a wash.  In my opinion, if there are that many similarities, it all comes down to the apps, and Apple has 3 times as many as Android (excuse me while I roll my eyes at Windows Mobile devices like I would if a 7-year-old begging to play b-ball with NBA player.  Stay away little guy; you might get hurt).  In my opinion, Apple wins the app debate.  On the other hand, some people prefer the more open source platforms that Android boasts.  It really all depends on what you’re looking for and comfortable with.  For me, my world has become very Apple centric.  The thought of having my iPhones, iPads, and Macbooks all syncing and talking together, makes the iPad 2 the right choice for me.  And if you were like me and disappointed with Apple’s first attempt at procreating an iPad, you have nothing to fear by waiting in line and getting the better, brighter, and much more capable older brother.

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