The iPad 2

My iPad 2 arrived yesterday–so I'm obviously late to the party here. Most of the reviews I've read about the iPad 2 have called it a nice iteration on the original iPad with incremental improvements. I agree. There are a few points I haven't read anywhere, but noticed immediately.

  • The speed difference is pretty dramatic.  Of course, you quickly notice that everything is smoother.  Apps launch really quickly.  It's not that the iPad was ever slow or unresponsive, but there were certainly times you could tell it was dropping frames or streaming data to keep up with interactions.  The first time I launched The Daily, I was shocked how usable the Carousel view was.  Email browsing and list scrolling with many messages is very fluid.
  • The difference in graphics performance is staggering.  With the iPad I would see 3D engines and think "wow, this is impressive for a mobile device."  With the iPad 2, there are some really amazing visuals on apps that have been updated specifically for the new hardware.  Infinity Blade shows a lot of what's possible with the iPad 2.
  • Most of the original iPad accessories won't work.  That means my beloved keyboard dock is now history.  Using the Smart Covers and a Bluetooth Keyboard is OK, but I found the verticle orientation on the old keyboard dock put the iPad screen more inline with my eyes.  Now I feel like I'm staring down at the screen.  Yes, it's a nit-pick but I actually did a lot of writing on the original iPad.
  • The cameras are terrible, but just fine for Facetime chatting.  Honestly, I don't see much use for the rear camera–a phone or camera is a much better form factor for taking pictures or shooting video.
  • The smart covers really are awesome.  This solves a lot of the usability issues I had with the first iPad.  It will be interesting to see how it does on an airline tray though.

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