iPad & iPad2 – Apple, First and lasting impressions of both
by Troy Saxton-Getty
I stood in line as a gadget dork just like the rest of the Apple fans that arrived hours or even days before the official launch of the iPad2 on Friday March 11th at 5pm. Due to my crazy work schedule I was only able to get to the store a few hours before the release.
Standing in line at the Apple Store
I had to ask myself several times, “Why am I here? I have an iPad 3G 64GB and it is fantastic”…I hope to answer that question for myself as I continue to share my Apple experience here. The Apple iPad “generation one” product is what created the gold standard for which all others are trying to compete against, everything new on the market has been created to unseat the iPad from the top of the hill. The problem for them is, Apple isn’t sitting around waiting for these want-to-be competitors to catch up.
If you have read any of our previous articles you know we too would like to see something released that comes close or pushes ahead. We have purchased numerous products from companies attempting in some way to close the gap that Apple has on the “post computer” future.
We have the latest tablets and hybrid devices in-house – Motorola Xoom, Motorola Atrix, Samsung Galaxy Tab, large Android phones and even special purpose devices like Amazon’s Kindle (each version as well) and after continuing to extensively use all of them in our daily lives, one thing is clear, even the first from a year ago, iPad is still way out in the lead.
The difference? Apple provides an entire ecosystem end to end. The others haven’t quite figured out this formula, obviously 100′s of millions of consumers have. There are over 100 million Apple iPhones, iPads & iPods sold to date as it was announced in Apple’s latest keynote at the iPad2 launch.
What’s in the secret sauce?
1. Great hardware – industrial design & function like no other
2. Fantastic OS (base software) – iOS4 is really, really special – built just for this, your finger is your mouse
3. Content – iTunes, Movies, Music, TV, learning, even college, ringtones, Podcasts, iRadio, i-everything, look at the automobile integration, iPad in-dash is just around the corner
4. Apps – Billions and Billions served, Apps for work, play & special stuff, developers flourish…
5. Photo – Everything I photo goes into iPhoto, linked to iPad and iPhone, Facebook, Flickr & more
6. Video – iMovie & other movie creation tools, iPad, iPhone, Mac – fabulous, edit while traveling home
7. Music learning, creation and integration – GarageBand, Musician tools and instrument connection
8. Third Party brand integration- Netflix, Google, Facebook, Evernote, Instapaper, SmugMug & Microsoft Office functionality
9. In-app content purchasing – apps which take you further into other brand’s rich experiences
10. News – The Daily, NYT, AP, CNN, NPR, USA Today, CBS, FOX, ABC, BBC, etc.
11. Add-on products – Apple Branded as well as third party, i.e. Apple TV, iHome, i-you name it
12. Standards – carefully controlled, but great for users: connectors, iTunes, formats etc.
It is all – EASY TO USE
Only a few of the 12 points above are a 10/10, most are 7′s or 8′s, but because they are all part of one off offering, Apple is so far out in front it will take a long time for others to catch up. The competition is focused on making really good hardware, some are getting closer, but outside of thinking about one or two of the items above, they have so much more ground to make up besides just making great hardware.
Toss in one or more of the new Apple TV modules for $99 USD at home and the added value continues to skyrocket further out of reach for the competition.
Apple sets the gold standard for what in the industry is know as UE, User Experience, everything is designed from the bottom up around the user experience. Now how much they can sell, if the UE is as close to perfect, people will wait in lines for hours, days and even weeks and virtually everyone in line is HAPPY to do it. That’s why Apple strives to be perfect in their “Practice” of continuous improvement around the user experience. What? this user experience is in just about every language in the world?
When my grandmother or father can pick up a device and use it instantly and in most every way, it’s by far the testament to the Apple global success. They design to appeal to the largest market share but don’t alienate the niche, Techies to Grandmothers…
The iPad2 improves on the first iPad in quite a few ways:
New Processor – the speed of the new A5 dual core CPU chip is significantly faster while not impacting battery life. iPad’s have unreal batteries that last for days and days of regular use. The CPU isn’t quite a fast as the Motorola Xoom’s dual-core Tegra based on some 3D testing we did, but it’s really not a noticeable issue.
Size – it doesn’t seem like much since the first iPad was a breakthrough size, but the iPad2 is thinner/lighter, it is much easier to hold in your hand for lengthy periods of time, reading a book, watching a video, reading and answering email, if you like to hold it in your hand, it’s easier now. Our test vs. Xoom, the Xoom feels much heaver.
Stand – the optional cover from Apple is really quite amazing, building on their use of magnets in the MagSafe power adapter for Macbooks, Apple has designed a cover in a rubber or leather format. What is so cool about this cover? First, it pulls on and off easy, second – the magnets are genius, it always grabs at the right place and the cover fits perfectly and really protects the screen.
iPad2 optional cover in leather
The rubber cover comes in multiple colors and works equally well.
The cover folds into a tight roll which supports angled desk typing as well as turned on edge it makes a great stand like a photo frame, clock or movie viewing angle.
The iPad2 has a 3 axis gyro, why does this matter? It makes for a precision controller for numerous apps, the previous iPad was effective with the accelerometers but this takes the movement tracking as a controller up significantly. For those of you who haven’t experienced what I am talking about, think about holding the screen and driving the car in the game app by tilting the screen left or right, forward for faster, tilt back for braking. (just one of many uses)
The original iPad came in WiFi only and WiFi + 3G served up by ATT, the new iPad2 has two 3G choices for the US market, ATT and now Verizon 3G, neither offer 4G for the iPad and it would require a new radio. (like the current shipping Xoom tablet with 3G, you have to ship it to Motorola when 4G becomes available in the future, not sure Apple would even consider that idea) Expect to see 4G in the iPad3 in fall of this year. (I will actually fall over if the Xoom get’s the 4G ship-me deal in the coming month or two as they have promised)
The Screen is the same in size in the iPad2 as it was in the first iPad. It was fantastic then and still is now. Our Xoom tablet has a wide screen format and the iPad doesn’t. I am not sold on the wide screen yet, the native iPad display works very well for everything, so I don’t feel like I am losing out by not having a wide screen format.
The iPad2 also includes the ability to playback content to a TV/Monitor via an option HDMI output cable that has an integrated SD Card reader so you can load photos directly from your SD Card based camera. The included HDMI cable is really thin and easy to pack in your travel kit. (usually these are huge, thick cables). ”Monster Cable, have you been scamming us all along?” Output video up to 1080P from your iPad2, think hotel room, bedroom or even main living room, now you can finish that video that you got half way through on the airplane.
16, 32 & 64GB sizes, these are the same as the previous iPad, look to 128GB or larger in the next generation as 128GB SD cards are starting the hit the market, why not include a little SD slot Apple?
The iPad2 is a marked improvement on an already near perfect device, if you are happy with your current iPad and it does everything you need, I would wait the 6-7 months for iPad3, it will be a significant leap ahead.
If you need it in white, need more speed, want to use the cool cover, plan to hook it to your TV for video/movie/picture playback, need Verizon 3G? Can’t handle not having the newest thing? Then buy it today! Oh, did I mention that each morning at my local Apple Store there are more then 1oo people waiting and they can’t keep up with demand which is even greater than the first iPad. People in line before the store opens are still going home empty handed, and coming back.
As for the competition; when my father or grandmother, or for that matter, most of my friends tell me that Amazon provides much of what iTunes sells and its “built-in” to whatever new fangled device they have, then I will know the competition is closing in a bit. By the way, if you know the tricks to getting the same content that iTunes provides iPad, iPhone, Apple TV’s as well as Mac’s and PC’s then you are good to go with something else, even today. (Amazon and other sources have most of the same content, today…but it’s not so easy as the Apple user experience)
Evidently 100 million people either don’t know this or didn’t want to take the time to figure out how to do it like Apple has done it for you!
And the crowd out front of the Apple Store goes wild…..Cheers!