- It's thinner
- It's lighter
- It's faster
- It has two cameras (front and rear)
- Has HDMI output that mirrors iPad screen on a large screen TV
- Despite all of the above the battery life is as good
- It's actually a bit cheaper
Pretty much all the shortcomings of the iPad have been fixed in the smaller, thinner, lighter and faster iPad 2. There are now two cameras to let you take quick snaps and to use for video conference calling. Battery life remains as it was. Excellent.
You can also mirror the screen now via a HDMI adapter and cable rather than the crippled screen output from the original iPad so you can watch a video from your iPad on your large screen TV.
It's fundamentally the same shape and size. The somewhat square 1024 x 768 screen resolution and screen size does make for a device that works well both in portrait and landscape modes but for prolonged use in landscape a "wider" screen would be more usable.
There are still no USB or SD card ports on the device itself and you need to buy an extra adapter to get these to work and even then they only work in a limited way for photos
The big change to iOS came with the release of 4.2 with the much needed addition of multitasking or at least Apple's version of multitasking. The iPad 2 ships with 4.3 that has added some applications to take advantage of the camera and some security and performance tweeks - notably to the Safari web browser. This software works on the original iPad as well (although not the camera applications obviously).
Whilst iOS is an incredibly intuitive and easy to use operating system it is starting to look a bit long in the tooth both on the surface and under the bonnet. The notification system in particular is dated and you are restricted to a user interface that is basically just a jump screen for applications.
The single biggest annoyance is the lack of a coherent filing system accessible across all applications. A file opened in one application is "sandboxed" into that application so you can't see it from another app unless you use the "share" option to copy it into that app as well. You end up with a mess of multiple copies of the same document that aren't synced. This is supposed to make things "simpler" but for serious use it is a nightmare.
This also means you can't just plug in removable storage devices (like USB sticks or memory cards) and transfer files. Not that the iPad has the relevant ports to let you connect such things anyway!
For the past year the iPad has been unquestionably the best tablet on the market. No other tablet has come close for hardware or software. The iPad 2 consolidated this lead but Android tablets are closing in fast. The Samsung Galaxy Tab (really just an overgrown Galaxy S phone) was too small and the Android operating system it used was designed for phones not tablets
For pure content consumption the iPad is still compelling although the lack of Flash on the web browsers is a serious limitation.
I recently wrote a review of the Asus Eee Pad Transformer and it is certainly worth considering if you are looking for a tablet with a keyboard or Flash that works.
So the iPad still reigns supreme but for how much longer?
- A smaller, faster, lighter version of an already brilliant device
- Mature range of tablet optimised apps
- Great battery life
- Design, build quality and feel of the device
- iOS operating system is looking dated
- No Flash for web browsing
- Lack of coherent filing system across all apps
- Lack of memory expansion
- Lack of expansion ports