Amidst its usual fanfare, and with the triumphant (and possibly last) return from medical leave for master-showman Steve Jobs, Apple launched its latest product, iPad 2, last Wednesday. It will be available in Ireland from March 25 but pricing is yet to be confirmed.
All the new features were correctly predicted. Everyone in my social network thought that the release would be a bump, a slight upgrade to keep the competition down, followed by a big upgrade in September.
We were right about the bump.
The biggest change is the design itself. iPad 2 is much thinner than the previous model and is actually thinner than an iPhone. It’s also much lighter at only 1.3 pounds and will be available in white as well as black.
The processor has been upgraded to a dual-core A5 which Apple says makes it twice as fast. Graphics performance has also been greatly improved. Significantly, Apple claims that these upgrades do not affect battery life.
The no-brainer addition of two cameras, one on the front and one on the back, just like the iPhone, was confirmed, as was the inclusion of FaceTime, Apple’s video chat software.
Apple also added accessories to its range. The HDMI Video Out dongle allows streaming to your TV at 1080p widescreen, and the Smart Cover protects the screen, attaching magnetically.
What may be more significant is the upgrade of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS. On the back of this will come the release of two pieces of software. iMovie, Apple’s easy-to-use movie editor will make its iPad debut and boasts direct uploading of completed videos to YouTube. Apple’s GarageBand music software will also come to the device.
Expect lots of teenagers to make lots of crap tunes and movies.
What it left out could be a deal-breaker for many. The rumoured USB port and SD slot didn’t materialise and the screen has not been upgraded as many had hoped.
So, now the tricky bit: what do I think? Bearing in mind I’ve not actually seen one, I don’t think it really is iPad 2. It’s more like iPad 1.5. The new processor will almost certainly be included in the new iPhone (probably available in Ireland in August), and the gap between iPad 1 and iPad 2 is not huge.
Apple have already reduced the price of the first-generation model to clear their inventory. If you’re looking for an iPad, and taking everything into account, I’d probably go with iPad 1.
And what about the September upgrade? Jobs repeatedly said: “We think 2011 is clearly the year of the iPad 2″.
Looks like they’re keeping the iPad 3 for 2012, but don’t be surprised if this turns out to be a red herring. And don’t blame me.