Sunday, March 6, 2011

To iPad 2 Or Not iPad 2?

Now that I've had a few days for the features of the new Apple iPad 2 to sink in, it's time for me to give my two cents about the new tablet.

Although I've been telling most everyone that I don't plan to upgrade, I've been rethinking that now since this seems to be a good time when people are thinking about picking up the iPad 1 for reduced prices.  Still, in my mind it's NOT a done deal.

Let's take a look at the pros and cons of buying the iPad 2.

Photos courtesy of Apple

So what's new about the iPad 2?

I don't want to spend too much time on this but here are the new features of the iPad 2:

  • Faster - Dual-Core A5 chip: 2x faster than iPad, 9x faster graphics performance, mostly for games.
  • Thinner & Lighter - 33% thinner and 15% lighter than iPad 1.  Even though it is thinner and lighter, the battery performance is still at 10 hours.
  • Two cameras - A rear camera for taking pictures and 720p video and a front-facing camera for video chatting and for apps like:
  • FaceTime - You can now FaceTime with the iPad and the iPhone 4, iPod Touch (latest gen.) and Mac.
  • Photo Booth - The Mac version of this app now comes to the iPad.
  • First iPad that is 3G-compatible with Verizon - Although I like the speed of AT&T, it's good to know that I have a choice of which carrier to go with.  Verizon was previously bundling the Mi-Fi with the Wi-Fi iPad.
  • Gyroscope - This is a great feature on the iPhone 4 that I believe is not yet fully realized.  This is best implemented in games but it would also be helpful in getting augmented reality apps a great headstart on the iPad.
Really for me, none of those features really grab me and say, "I REALLY have to have an iPad 2!"  Especially since I am really satisfied with my iPad 1.  But, there are a few things that have me thinking twice about upgrading:

I LOVED iMovie for iPhone.  The day after I got the iPhone 4 and downloaded iMovie I had a trip planned to go to Portland, Oregon.  I made this movie using iMovie for iPhone.  I edited most of it while I was on the plane.  I shot the landing and edited that onto the end when I got to my destination.  I rendered that same day.  And I've been hooked ever since!  I've told people I would LOVE to have iMovie on the iPad.  And I'm planning to go back to Portland, Oregon and travel to Seattle, Washington this year as well.  iMovie for iPhone is very simple but the iPad version looks closer to the Mac version.  Since I already have the iPhone version I'll be getting the iPad version this Friday as a free upgrade.  It's also a steal at $4.99 if you don't have it already.  iMovie for iPad will NOT work on the iPad 1.

Yes, many smartphones have been able to output through HDMI for at least the last year, but I'm really glad that Apple is finally getting this feature out.  And there's no better product to introduce this feature than the iPad 2.  You need to buy the Apple Digital AV Adapter to make this work. Now, Apple has previously provided AV cables to output some video and apps that make use of the old video-out feature.  I currently have the Apple Component AV cable.  But, the cords are so short that I have to stay very close to the HDTV to use it.  And only a few apps I'm interested in like Rage HD and a few browsers actually support video out.  Although video mirroring is not supported on the iPad 1, you can still use the Digital AV Adapter to output videos, slideshows and apps that support video-out onto any HDMI-compatible TV.  I've already ordered a 15-foot long HDMI cable.  I'm also an iOS gamer and video mirroring puts the iPad 2 literally into the console gaming market.

The main reason for buying a Mac in the future was to get my hands on great inexpensive software like iMovie and GarageBand.  Now, they are available on the iPad.  iMovie will work only on the iPad 2 but GarageBand will work on the iPad 1 and 2.  So, this isn't really a feature that really pushes me to get the iPad 2 but since I am a musician, the iPad 2 will only make it easier and faster to put together my own compositions.  I hope GarageBand for iPad is MIDI-capable since I just bought a portable keyboard that I've been using with a couple of iPad apps I have right now.

I really didn't like Apple's iPad cover last year so I went with third-party covers.  I settled on the Quirky Cloak and been loving it ever since.  Although the Cloak protects the iPad like no other case, it's also bulky and heavy.  Apple's new Smart Cover protects the face of the iPad without adding much bulk or weight.  Magnets hold the cover in place when you're not using the iPad and put it into sleep mode.  When you want to use the iPad, opening the cover takes the iPad out of sleep mode and converts into a stand.  To protect the back from scratches, I'd buy a GelaSkin or something like it.  I take my iPad just about everywhere I go so being lighter really helps and the Smart Cover is a simple way to add the functionality of a stand without much weight.

Getting Money Back From Your iPad, Gadgets

Right now, Apple and Best Buy have discounted all models of the iPad 1 by $100.  So, if you want to sell your iPad 1 you're going to have to take at least a $100 loss, if not more.  If I do get the iPad 2, I plan to use Gazelle to help fund most of the cost.  With an iPad 1 32GB Wi-Fi + 3G that is flawless and has all the power adapters and cables along with an 16GB iPhone 3G that has a few scratches but all the power adapters and cables, I'm getting very close to making $500.  That's along with a promo code from our good friends at iPad Today.  If I throw in several movies that will definitely get me to $500 and I still need to check on what I can get for my old Samsung SD video camera.  I would rather sell my current iPad for $500 or more but I know that's tough in this economy and Gazelle is a great way to get money back from your old gadgets.

The main feature that would've put it over the top for me is a higher resolution screen, which may come as early as this fall. I'm also thinking next year's model will be 4G LTE-compatible. So, I'm still stuck on whether I should upgrade or not.  What do you think?

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