Hands on an IPad 2


It’s been near on 1 year since the Apple iPad landed on planet earth. No one knew if it was going to be a success, sceptics were sure that the tablet format would be nothing more than a fad and that true portable computing still lay in the realms of the notebook pc's. However after 9 months and 12 million units sold, Apple of course, again, annoyingly were right and the iPad took the world by storm, transforming the portable computing market in to a tablet infested sea of android and windows wannabes.
Just as other manufactures were starting to catch up with the iPad in terms of power and functionality, Apple have released the iPad 2.
Have Apple done it again? Have the other manufactures, got to spend another year trying to catch up with the might of Cupertino?
Well, yes and no. The first iPad was a revolution, a whole new kind of computing product, the iPad 2, well it’s more of refresh, the sort of thing Apple would have brought out if they had had another year to spend developing the first iPad. Don't get me wrong, where the first iPad was good, this new iPad 2 is simply magnificent, the smallish changes made have dramatically improved the iPad into what will most certainly be the best tablet my far until iPad 3.
Let me explain why. First of all it’s thinner, not by a little, but a lot. A whole third thinner. It’s actually slightly thinner than the iPhone 4. It’s also marginally lighter. Holding it in your hand feels much more pleasant. How they crammed everything in such a small amount of space I will never understand. The edges are now rolled to a thin edge, making the unit feel even thinner than it really is. You really need to pick one up to appreciate the difference from the original iPad. This does lead me to my first niggle, because the edges are rolled over the volume buttons now seem to stick more proud of the unit than the previous model. Just feels slightly odd. It may just be me, and it is a very small niggle.
Secondly it’s faster. Not a bit but a lot. Ignore those YouTube videos, showing you comparisons in speed between the two, when you actually use the device you realise just how much more responsive it is.
The iPad2 uses the new A5 dual core processor, and some serious graphics hardware that reportedly speeds up graphic processing by nine times, compared to iPad 1. I think it will be a couple of months until developers start to learn how to use this graphic speed but when they do, I foresee some amazing graphical based apps coming out.
Thirdly two cameras. Now don't get excited here, they are rubbish. I mean really rubbish. You will not be using your iPad 2 to take lovely 720p HD video like you do with the iPhone 4. But that is not what they are there for. Apple's sole purpose for putting these camera's in was for Facetime (Apple's Skype equivalent), and for that purpose they are perfect. Other than that, they are rubbish. I will move on.
Fourthly, HDMI output with mirroring. Finally you can see the complete iPad interface on a large monitor. So, should you wish to plug your iPad 2 into a nice large monitor, attach a bluetooth keyboard, you have yourself a little desktop setup that works great. I stuck the iPad 2 into my Panasonic TV and ran up iplayer, the tv screen was of course at the lower resolution that the iPad 2 can display but a couple of presses on the TV remote to change the zoom and I had a near on full screen Hi res iplayer stream on the telly. Much better than the PS3 can produce. Apparently the iPad 2 can supply a fully 1080p image from the hdmi and we just wait for developers to start including this. it will be great.
GarageBand and iMovie: Now not strictly built into the iPad 2 and GarageBand at least is available for the iPad 1 but WOW, what two amazing pieces of software. GarageBand is Apple's consumer audio recording software. What they have managed to do with the iPad version is take all the rubbish out of the full Mac version and add some very cool smart instruments, a sampler, effects including amp simulation and 8 tracks of audio recording. Go play with it, even if you are not a musician you will be making some kind of music with this app.
iMovie is iPad 2 only. I suspect it needs the extra horsepower of the A5 and graphic processors. Finally a very usable and fast video editing tool on the iPad. It’s not Final Cut (Apple please update now) but it is a perfectly good editor that will allow you to insert transitions, effects, music, and VO's onto your videos. If you know the Mac version then it works in a similar way. Take your clips, drop them onto the timeline, trim, add another, select a transition and so on. It does however work very quick, smooth and perfectly with the touch interface. Biggest issue is the lack of different video format support. Boy is it fussy. So far only iPhone 4 video seems to work. I suspect if other formats are re-encoded to the same as an iPhone 4 it will work, but that kind of defeats the object. However with an iPad 2 and iPhone 4 you have what is a very respectable field video kit. Shoot on the iPhone 4, copy video wirelessly to the iPad 2 using an app like photosync or transfer and you can shoot, edit, add vo and post with just the two devices.
I'll be quick here, Smart case, truly amazing, works a treat, and you really can’t put it on wrong, just like the ads say.
Overall the iPad 2 is a worthy upgrade. If you just use your iPad for a bit of surfing and email, then perhaps keep version 1 until the 3 comes out, but if you are a power user the iPad 2 is a major leap forward.
Jon Pratchett spends his time between running his production company Sardine Media and acting as the streaming video Guru for Production Company Mediakinetic. You may remember in the December issue of TV-Bay Jon wrote about how with Mediakinetic they successfully streamed live the UK launch of The Game "Call of duty Black Ops". Well the success of this event and use of various streaming technology's has not gone unnoticed and on March the 25th Mediakinetic and their client won an IVCA gold award in the Experiential Digital Events category. Alas Jon was unable to attend the awards ,he was queuing for his iPad2!
Follow Jon on twitter @jpratchett and Mediakinetic @Mediakinetic
If you’re not a twit, then old fashioned email to Jon@sardinemedia.com"

Tags: iss052 | ipad | ipad2 | apple | imovie | iphone4 | youtube | streaming | facetime | N/A
Contributing Author N/A

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