See also: New iPad review. (March 2012)
When we presented our first-look overview of Apple iPad 2 last month, Apple had not even announced its UK pricing. We were surprised, then, to discover that it would cost less than the first-gen model.
When you consider that the Apple iPad 2 is appreciably faster, thinner and lighter than the iPad 1, and boasts a pair of video cameras, you may wonder where shorcuts have been made in its construction. We certainly were - and we’re still looking for them.
Yet no product is perfect, and discerning users will always be looking for ways in which the experience could be improved. Here’s our rundown of how well Apple has executed its second take on the iPad - and where there’s still room for refining what’s already proven to be an incredibly successful formula.
Apple iPad 2: Screen
First impressions are of a subtly fuzzy screen. That’s from the perspective of an iPhone 4 user. It’s exactly the same resolution as the original iPad, but since that first tablet appeared, Apple updated its phone with the so-called Retina Display. Retina, because the human retina is unable to detect any dotted pixel structure when held at normal viewing distance. An iPad 2 keeps a 132 pixels per inch (ppi) resolution, against iPhone 4’s class-leading 326ppi.
So while iPad 2’s resolution is in line with most screens, when set against iPhone 4’s razor-sharp view, we see softer furred edges to fonts.
Yet there’s little denying that iPad has the best tablet screen in the business. The incredible sensitive touchscreen is glass-fronted and shiny, but nothing like as reflective as, say, the Motorola Xoom’s mirror surface. And LED-backlit IPS technology here means you get rich, gorgeous colours, everything perfectly viewable from every angle.
Apple iPad 2: Apps and choices, choices
Many of our favourite iPhone apps haven’t been recoded for iPad. While iOS lets them work perfectly on iPad’s larger screen, you will be presented with a small working interface in the centre - expandable to fill the screen from the bottom right ‘2x’ button.
For sure, this is no criticism of iPad 2, more a comment on the iOS ecosystem with its 350,000 apps, of which ‘only’ 60,000 are customised for iPad.
The choice of iPad models has been doubled now by the simple addition of a white-border option to the line. We found the snow finish appealing, recalling the look of the original iPod. Buyers should beware that the Wi-Fi-only version still omits GPS, denying the device satnav services.
Apple iPad 2: Cameras
While we first questioned the need for rear-facing cameras (somehow, panning with a slate feels wrong), it’s the front camera that tipped this fence-sitter into buying an iPad 2. Apple’s own webchat, FaceTime, works well between iPhone 4s and Apple Macs, but carry-anywhere convenience coupled with larger screen and speaker means FaceTime on iPad 2 is something of a killer app.
Blown up by the larger screen, FaceTime video is not as sharp as iPhone 4, and 640x480 camera pixels displayed over 1024x768 screen means there’s some softness. This is exaggerated by camera quality that’s barely ‘good enough’ in noise terms.
After some use, we had to concede that, just like the iPhone, a rear camera has its uses to switch views and show your chat partner what you’re viewing. We just wish webchat-leader Skype would optimise its app for iPad too.