One Hour with IPad 2
- Easy to use
- Thin and light with a bright colourful screen
- Ten hour battery life
- Limited Customisation/Restricted to Apple approved applications
- Only has Apple dock connection. No USB, HDMI, SD card slots out of the box although these are available through Apple approved accessories.
- No easily expandable memory, choose which model wisely
One hour with an iPad 2
Submitted by Amara
I have been watching the growing market of tablet computers for a year or so. I have a eeePC that I love dearly but it would be nice to upgrade it and there are some interesting tablet computers coming onto the market. So when I heard a friend was coming over to our house for an afternoon of gaming and he was bringing his iPad 2 with him, I asked if I could borrow it and try it out.
In my search to replace my aging eeePC, I was mainly focusing around three things.
1. General Use. Something I can watch videos on, browse the internet, check email etc. The things you do on a computer but don’t feel like turning on that big energy eating machine or being restricted to your home office desk to use.
2. Something I can type on for long hours at a time when I am writing up something.
3. Something that I can read ebooks on.
While I have since brought an Amazon Kindle to read my ebooks on, I still checked out this feature on the iPad 2 to see if my purchase was actually worth it.
The model I got to play with was an iPad 2, 32 GB with Wifi. Available in Apple Stores for A$ 689.
I figure the reason most people get a tablet computer is for portability. I mean, if you didn’t really want to take it with you then people would probably just use their own computers. I found the physical size of the iPad to be a bit of a hindrance. It’s too small to have a separate bag for it but it’s too big to fit even into my oversize handbag that does fit my iPod touch, my Kindle, mobile phone and even my eeePC if I don’t mind it taking up most of the space. Of course, the iPad 2 is a lot thinner than anything I currently have and probably a lot thinner than any of the tablet computers coming out shortly.
It is said to be lighter than the original iPad and probably is considered light for a tablet computer although I found the weight to be a little awkward and noticeable. If you are only using it for 30 to 60 minutes at a time, you will probably be alright but holding onto any longer will probably start to weight you down. If you are going to be holding it one handed so you can use your other hand to navigate around, it’s going to get heavy somewhat quickly.
You can get a nifty cover from Apple that allows the iPad to be prop up or laid down on a angle. This can mean that you can sit or lay it down on a flat surface saving you from having to hold the device during use. These are called iPad Smart Covers and are connected to the iPad by magnets. It works as being a protective cover when laid flat over the screen or as a stand when folded up, with the magnets keeping it in place. My friend happened to have one of these cases as well and I would have to say that for A$ 45 (A$ 79 if you want the leather look) it would be considered a good investment if you want to use the iPad 2 over extended periods of time around flat surfaces (like at that local coffee shop).
The iPad 2 has the same operating system as the iPhone and the iPod touch. This means that if you have used any of these devices in the past, you shouldn’t have any problems operating the iPad. Even if you haven’t, the iPad 2 is very easy to navigate. Everything is there in front of you in bright colours and large icons. You have plenty of screens to fill with applications icons or you can make folders and organise them into neat piles. The applications that you can install are endless, restricted only by the size of the iPad 2 model and the application first being approved by Apple.
The iPad 2 also boast to have a ten hour of video battery life with over a month on standby. This is long enough to survive a work day, travel periods over most domestic flights and short international ones. If you want to forgo the video and just listen to music or podcasts then the battery is meant to last around 140 hours. The iPad doesn’t come with any form of AC charger, so you will have to charge it through the USB cable. The battery itself is within the iPad 2 and isn’t changeable without going back to Apple.
I tried the video on the iPad 2, firstly viewing everyone’s favourite song at the moment ‘Want you gone’ using iTunes and watching part of a television show using the ABC iView application. The iPad displayed the youtube video no problem, it’s graphics limited only by the youtube video itself. The episode of Jonathan Creek that I decided to test came across as a little choppy although the same came across on my own computer this way as well so I would say this is a limitation brought by ABC iView and not the iPad 2 itself.
One thing I found interesting was that the iPad 2 comes with very basic applications for use straight out of the box. Almost anything you will want to do besides browse websites, check your email, play with photos etc. will require some sort of app to be downloaded (and possibly purchased) through Apple iTunes. I wanted to test the graphics on the iPad and asked my friend if I can browse to my shared videos on my computer (connected to the same network as his wifi). My friend responded in a very hearty way about an awesome application that allows streaming from his computer (if a program is also running on his computer). Although this isn’t possible using the standard programs that the iPad OS comes with. You will probably find an app for anything you may want to use the iPad 2 for through the iTunes stores, although you may also need to pay for it and all applications need to be approved by Apple before they are put up in the iTunes store.
One of the things that I need a portable device for is to allow me to turn it on and start typing. The first issue I found was that the iPad 2 doesn’t actually come with any sort of word processor program. A quick search of iTunes showed there are plenty of Word Processor applications available although my friend hadn’t downloaded any of these for me to try them out.
I did test out the typing ability on the iPad 2 and found it amazingly comfortable. I had to prop the iPad 2 up on a slope using the Smart Cover, otherwise it felt like I was leaning forward and looking over my on hands as I was typing. As someone that spends a lot of time typing, I found I had to make none of the normal adjustment which I normally do when using a new keyboard. The iPad was a little slow keeping up with my typing and I would have to stop every now and then for it to catch up but I’ve experienced this plenty of times on plenty of other devices.
Typing one handed was also fairly comfortable. I found a lost little typing speed although I wouldn’t want to do this for longer than an email. Holding the weight of the iPad in one hand which typing is somewhat awkward and heavy. When I am writing I tend to want to stretch out and be comfortable, and not to be sitting at a desk. A laptop on my lap works well although the iPad did not. Without a flat surface to use the Smart Cover on, I would find typing limited and uncomfortable over long periods of time.
I read, I read a lot. I read often and I read for long extended periods of time. I have bookshelves filled with books and about a year ago decided to start going digital. I have an Amazon Kindle eReader which I am currently using but I really wanted to see how the iPad 2 handle itself as an eReader.
My friend had a few eReader applications which I tested out. The iPad displayed PDFs beautifully, very bright and colourful. The graphics on the Dungeon & Dragon manuals looked just as good as they did in the large hard-cover books. The size of the display comes in handy for this purpose, allowing the PDF to be displayed fully and large enough to be able to read clearly. Dragging your finger across the screen turns the pages although doing this to fast may make some people feel a little sick as the pages flash before you.
eBooks were displayed clearly as well, the words easy to read. Although with the bright screen, this might be a little hard on the eyes for extended reading periods. One of the eReader Applications displayed the words in white on a black background, which isn’t great for any sort of long period reading. With the size and weight of the iPad and it’s liquid crystal display would probably mean that the iPad 2 isn’t best if you want to use it for long periods of reading while laying down and resting or even holding it while sitting up in a big comfy chair.
The Apple iPad 2 is a good tablet computer and most of it’s limitation are because it is what it is. A tablet computer is designed around being flat, portable and usable and the iPad 2 are all these things. The only real issue I have with the iPad 2 is the price. For what it does I do not feel it’s worth the price tag Apple has placed on it. If you are looking for something that you want to use to browse the internet or check your emails without dragging around a hug laptop, then the iPad 2 is probably what you want. If you have a few dollars to spare.
The iPad 2 functionality is really only limited to the applications that Apple approves for use. This works well seeing as Apple works to sort of filter out the bad applications though of course can seem restrictive where they may not approve an application for use because of personal reasons (whether this is true or not). There are so many games and other apps that I doubt anyone can find themselves bored and more and more applications are added all the time. This means also that the uses of the iPad 2 can increase by simply having applications made for peoples needs. There are even applications to help you play Dungeon Master in that late night game of Dungeons and Dragons.
When choosing your iPad 2, remember to consider what you may need in the future and weigh up what you can afford with your budget. 16GB may seem like a lot but it isn’t when you start filling the iPad with videos and numerous podcasts we all seem to download but rarely listen to them all and remove them when we have. The 3G model gives you the added bonus of being able to access the internet, download apps and check your emails from anywhere however it does mean having a data packet plan with a local telecommunications carrier meaning an ongoing charge.
With so many tablet computers coming out on the market soon for various budgets I would have to say it is probably worth waiting and seeing what arrive in the near future. There are some big names on the horizons like the Motorola Xoom, the ASUS Eee Pad and the BlackBerry PlayBook. These tablet computers may be able to fill your needs better than the Apple iPad 2, depending of course on what your needs are.
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