The iPad 2

We've already gone over the iPad 2's design in our preview so I won't spend a ton of time here. The first iPad was a pain to hold in your hand, the iPad 2 largely addresses that problem. The device is similarly sized to its predecessor but Apple removed significant volume by tapering the edges of the iPad 2. The tablet is thus more comfortable to hold, lighter and is significantly thinner than its predecessor. Apple likes to point out that the iPad 2 is now thinner than even the iPhone 4.


Apple iPad 2 (top), Apple iPad (bottom)

The Xoom to me was more pleasant to hold that the original iPad, however the iPad 2 takes the crown back from Motorola. I believe we'll see second generation Android tablets that rival the iPad 2's thickness but for now you have to keep in mind that we're comparing a second generation iOS tablet to first generation Android tablets. With smartphone internals and virtually nonexistent cooling requirements, building a thin tablet isn't an impossible task.

The front of the iPad 2 is pretty much unchanged from the original, with the exception of the new VGA front facing camera (720p rear camera). As we'll get to shortly, beneath the front of the iPad 2 are a number of magnets for use with Apple's new smart covers. The front bezel of the iPad 2 is available in both white and black. Surprisingly all of the AnandTech editors who contributed to this review opted for the white and all of us seemed to actually be pretty happy with the choice.


Apple iPad 2 (left), Apple iPad (right)

Flip the iPad 2 around and the back is a very familiar aluminum. Unfortunately with no protection back here you'll often find yourself laying the iPad 2 face down on a smart cover when it's not in use. Even on a clean desk I could hear tons of little particles grinding up against the aluminum. So far the iPad 2 has been pretty resilient, implying that it's made of a harder aluminum than what Apple uses in the MacBook Pro line. That being said, I still worry about scratching the back of the device. Apple makes beautiful products but their beauty isn't always durable.

The button setup hasn't changed since the original iPad. There's the familiar home button on the front (which feels a little softer than the original, but in a good way) and power/lock button up top.


Apple iPad 2 (left), Apple iPad (right)

Along the right side are the mute/rotation switch and the volume rocker. The ends of the volume rocker protrude out further in the iPad 2 than they did with the original - yet another welcome change.


Apple iPad 2 (bottom), Apple iPad (top)

The dock connector is arguably the biggest flaw in the design. Because of the angled edges of the new iPad, the dock connector actually finds itself located in the middle of a slope. As a result inserting a standard dock cable is a bit awkward. On the original iPad you could just line up the cable with the middle of the bottom edge and sneak it in, on the iPad 2 there's more of a guessing game - usually involving me scraping the cable side dock connector against the aluminum back looking for the mate.

Just like last time the iPad 2 is available in both WiFi and 3G versions. The 3G versions add A-GPS support will the WiFi version can only pinpoint your location using WiFi trilateration. Apple offers separate AT&T and Verizon editions of the iPad 2, both of which have the same black antenna bar along the top of the back face of the tablet.

Apple iPad 2 Pricing Comparison
  16GB 32GB 64GB
WiFi $499 $599 $699
AT&T 3G $629 $729 $829
Verizon 3G $629 $729 $829

NAND capacities haven't increased, nor have prices. We likely won't see an increase in storage capacity until 25nm NAND ships in greater volume. The iPad 3 will probably start at 32GB and go all the way up to 128GB as a result.

Regardless of carrier, the 3G models require a $130 premium over the WiFi only models. Personally I'd say that some sort of cellular data connectivity is really necessary to make the iPad 2 as useful as possible. Whether that comes from a 3G model or through a MiFi/smartphone hotspot doesn't really matter.

The pricing as a whole is still absurd. Even if you opt for the $499 WiFi version you'll be out another $39 for a case, plus another $39 if you want the HDMI adapter and then there are all of the apps you will likely start buying. This is an expensive platform to buy into and rest assured that there will be an even faster version out next year. Apple hasn't had much pricing pressure from the competition, however as we mentioned in our CES 2011 coverage - ASUS will be shipping a $399 Honeycomb tablet this year that should start to change that.

The Tablet Evolution Industrial Design & The Future
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  • vol7ron - Sunday, March 20, 2011 - link

    Smoking the magic of realism, that's the point this device needs to hit. You can take that back to your IPS gods.

    I didn't say it was feasible to happen right away, but that's where it needs to be for the low-end devices. The upper-end of the spectrum should land in around $450.

    BTW, you misunderstand R&D and cost procurement. Just because these devices have a hefty starting price does not mean the cost of materials is even 1/1000 of that price. Whether the service providers are eating the price, or not, it all comes down to the fact that these devices do have a large mark-up. I think you need to consider the cost of an iPod Touch to the iPhone if you need a simpler way to compare - the 3G modem doesn't cost $300 lol and the Touch still had a high mark-up.

    "when the competition with a 2 decade head start still hasn’t been able to compete on price" ... no one has had a 2-decade head start. Technology (manufacturing and supply chain) and costs have both shifted over the last 20 years to make things more affordable. You come at this with an emotional response of "that can't happen", when I say it can and it will. Be care about being shortsighted it will come back to bite you one way or another.
    Reply
  • name99 - Sunday, March 20, 2011 - link

    Look, if you want a crappy cheap computer, go out and buy one. They make $50 computers (none of that extravagant $100 OLPC nonsense) for India powered by 6502s.

    But at the end of the day you are being disingenuous. You don't ACTUALLY want a $250 PC --- you can get something like that today if you buy a second hand Eee on eBay. What you want is an actual iPad, not something with a tenth of the functionality, but at $250.
    Good luck with that.

    And spare us this "eventually". If you're not content with a $250 eBay Eee now, buy the time the $250 iPad equivalent comes around, the real iPad 5 will be quadcore, 2GiB of RAM and a retina display screen, and you STILL won't find the cheap equivalent an acceptable choice, not when there's a real device at $600 that is so much better.
    Reply
  • medi01 - Monday, March 21, 2011 - link

    "Competition" has such devices for as low as about 100$, go google. They don't come with IPS panel or good battery, but how much do those parts cost?

    Competitors like Samsung do not have any reason to lower prices, as they are competing for different customers anyway. Not to mention, people perceive cheaper devices to be inferior.
    Reply
  • medi01 - Monday, March 21, 2011 - link

    PS
    There are NETBOOKS (from Acer, Lenovo or pretty much anyone) with multi-touch screens for below 300$.
    Reply
  • michael2k - Monday, March 21, 2011 - link

    They also weigh 2 to 3 times as much and have half or less the battery life. Reply
  • sean.crees - Monday, March 21, 2011 - link

    I still am amazed when people complain about the iPad being too expensive. I remember a little over a year ago everyone expected it to have a starting price of $999. It debuted at half that, and people still complain it's too much.

    It's now a year later, and even Apple's competitors cannot make a device that is competitive with a $499 starting price point or less.

    Here is where i see the iPad fitting in. The console and notebook have effectively replaced my PC. Everything i used to do on a PC i now do on either my notebook or my PS3. You're always going to have a cellphone. The tablet then does what you used to use a notebook for 10 years ago.

    You end up with a cell phone, a tablet, a notebook and if you want to game, a console.

    I don't know if a tablet will ever replace a notebook, maybe for some who can't afford all 3 and have to choose between a tablet and a notebook and don't need the productivity and power you gain with a notebook. Like how a TV is just for media consumption, a tablet is the same but you carry it around with you.
    Reply
  • Mishera - Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - link

    People complain about the device being too expensive because for what it is capable of doing, and compared to other devices it is overpriced. For Apple the price makes perfect sense for what they portray as a luxury device. It starts with enough room to drop the price (which they did sort of) and to be able to introduce another smaller ipad at some point in the future without cutting into their sails of macs. That's probably why they went with their keyboard choice.

    I thought about buying one but came to the conclusion that it simply was far to expensive to justify, especially since all I needed was an ereader, and later a new laptop. But I ended up getting on for Christmas so I wasn't complaining. Turns out the iPad is for EXACTLY what Steve said it was for. This is essentially a couch companion. This takes care of all my computer need when I'm at home and don't have to do work. But that's about all it's good for since it's too big to feasible carry around and doesn't replace your laptop.

    I still stand by my belief that the ipad is overpriced though much more attractive at $400. I think tablets will be very important in the future, it's just that they are far away and apple right now is only interested in making consumer devices while everyone else follows them. But right now everyone seems happy with just a new toy..
    Reply
  • george1924 - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    DSC_2328.jpg and DSC_2364.jpg Reply
  • george1924 - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Great in-depth review though! Still can't get excited about tablets very much yet. I've had fun playing around with them, but don't think I could justify it along with a laptop, desktop, etc... Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    Yeah, and the problem with playing with them at the store is that they always look really gross. I was messing with a tablet at a store today, and immediately washed my hands afterwards. I'm not a huge germ-a-phobe, but when I guy blows his nose, then approaches the electronics, I just start getting uneasy. I guess the screen just shows what's on all the mice and keyboards there, too. :p Reply

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