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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  • FrederickL - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link


    I have to say that I largely agree even though I perhaps would not use PrinceGaz' somewhat "undiplomatic" description of the iPad's current customer profile! However, I am obliged to agree that tablets of this size are of little interest (IMO) until they are functional enough that they can _replace_ ones laptop. The case for buying an iPad (fine piece of content consumption kit as it is) falls down at that first fence as far as I am concerned. In general terms my mobile device needs are met by my Desire Z. A third or fourth generation10 - 11 inch tab with a full slide out qwerty (either Honeycomb or Win 8 ARM, the iOS is not to my taste) with more connection/plug options than you can shake stick at, with a docking station+large screen at home - now THAT would open my wallet!
    Reply
  • dhuhtala - Sunday, March 20, 2011 - link

    I tend to agree - I've always carried a Blackberry phone instead of an iPhone just because it has a slide-out keyboard...I will not compromise on that! This makes the device really practical and I use it a lot.

    That's why I'm closely watching the ASUS eee Slider - a tablet with a slide out keyboard - that sounds like it will be much cheaper than the Xoom (rumour has it at $500.

    The Tegra 2 probably won't meet my requirements for playing MKV video files though, from what I've gathered...

    http://www.reghardware.com/2011/03/15/preview_tabl...
    Reply
  • solipsism - Sunday, March 20, 2011 - link

    You’re the minority. The majority of buyers just want something that works, which is why the techtarded people of the world are jumping into simpler devices for email and browsing, not building their own PCs and running a home-brew version of Linux. Reply
  • synaesthetic - Sunday, March 20, 2011 - link

    A netbook can check email and browse the internet for significantly less money. Most people I know, even the techtarded as you so colorfully put it, realize this and do not buy an iPad.

    The people I know who buy iPads are college students who get Mommy and Daddy to pay for it, and hipsters.
    Reply
  • doobydoo - Sunday, March 20, 2011 - link

    I couldn't disagree more.

    I would say that technically savvy people are the ones who are MORE likely to buy an iPad.

    I say this as a technically savvy person who has not yet bought an iPad, but can see the appeal:

    Firstly - the iPad is lighter, thinner, and has better battery life than most netbooks.

    Secondly - it's more capable, in that u wont have to wait around for Windows or whatever OS you're using to load, the apps are designed for the platform and the device's capabilities so it's actually quicker. Games, for example, are much nicer to play and to control on an iPad when compared to a netbook.

    Thirdly - it's more convenient in certain situations - u dont need to find a table to set it on or put it on ur lap - you can just hold it, such as when standing up or walking along, or where ur sitting at a table with food all over it.

    Fourthly - it's touch screen, extremely advantageous in certain situations. For example, the iPad makes a much better presentation device than any netbook can.

    It's such blind ignorance of a lot of people on here to assume that it's non-techy people who buy iPads. It's the non-haters, who buy iPads. The people who want to embrace the latest technology and actually see what it's about before dismissing it with some pathetic stereotype.
    Reply
  • medi01 - Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - link

    It's a "for fun" device, so if you buy it for some thing else, I doubt your "tech savyiness".

    And for some, not being able to read stuff you've written to your own device, is a show-stopper. Calling this "hate" is silly.
    Reply
  • synaesthetic - Sunday, March 20, 2011 - link

    It pretty much is a toy, but I really think smartphones are better toys. They're smaller, and you carry your phone anyway, so why not game on it to kill some time between appointments? Reply
  • Rick83 - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    I still stick to my 5" tablet (though something slightly larger might work also...but 7" is already too much).
    That I can carry around all day (when I want to, and keep a separate non-smart phone that does telephone well enough) and yet it is much more useful than the 4" and 3.5" smart phones. I can comfortably hold it with one hand, buttons are nice and big in landscape mode, the dock gives me USB host, there's BT for keyboards as well, dock with hdmi-out, analog video-out...basically it does anything I would ever need, in the ideal portable form factor.

    It could do with a marginally better touch screen and build quality, and performance and stability aren't that great, but considering it predated the first iPad by about 6 months, I'm willing to accept the odd quirk. Also, it still works after quite some use over the last 18 months, with no visible battery life issues.

    I hope that the mini-tablet form factor will be explored some more in the future, I would be willing to replace my current device with something similar once the warranty has expired...

    Oh did I mention that it cost me less than a third of an iPad? (But, no, no flash either ;))
    Reply
  • tzhu07 - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    I've been trying to figure out a use for the iPad, and the only thing I can think of is that it's good for doing really simple things and taking notes. Also, when you take it out in front of a client during a lunch meeting, it tends to impress them.

    But, yeah, I find that there isn't really a need for a device that bridges the gap between a laptop and a smartphone....yet.
    Reply
  • vision33r - Saturday, March 19, 2011 - link

    It's all about the Apps, regardless which OS they are useless without apps.

    The iPad has tons of productivity and enterprise ready apps. Would like to see an iMovie clone on Android or some quality productivity apps. So far only iOS has the most real apps.
    Reply

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