My iPad 2 review:
There isn't much to say in a review that hasn't already been said. However, I will give it a shot.
To start, the iPad 2 has had it's processor upgraded from a A4 to a A5. While the A4 was fast, let me tell you, the A5 makes it feel slow. Some report that they don't notice much of a difference, but from my usage, I can definitely notice a difference. One app I particuarly notice a difference in is Momento. Keep in mind, this app isn't for the iPad, it is designed to run on the iPhone. When I force the app to update my feeds (Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube, and Foursquare) it was done in one little blink. If i do the same task on my iPhone, connected to the same Wi-Fi network, at the same time, the iPhone still comes in second, by at least a minute. I wouldn't think this would be a processing issue, but I guess it is. Other apps I notice speed improvements is the iPad-only app We Rule. For those unfamiliar its a FarmVille like app specifically for the iPad. Running the same "kingdom" on the iPad 1 and iPad 2, the iPad 2 will always load my farm quicker, and my gifts if I have any.
While the iPad 2 isn't much lighter then the iPad 1 from a 'On paper' perspective, in real-world-use, it is much lighter. If you use iBooks, and you hold your iPad while reading, versus leaning it on/against something, you will notice the weight difference is quite significant while reading. I really appreciate this because I love iBooks. However, that isn't to say that the iPad is 'light', because it isn't. While it may be lighter then the first gen iPad, it still doesn't have the book like feeling the Kindle offers as far as weight. In all honesty though, I like the weight of the iPad 2. It makes me feel that it is secure, sturdy, and could take a hit (although I would never want to test this).
While the cameras are rather disappointing, they serve their purpose: A fun, cool way to share goofy pictures, or to FaceTime with friends/loved ones/enemies. I never expected great cameras in the iPad, but how great would that be if they had used the cameras from the iPhone 4? Can you imagine FaceTime HD, iPhone 4 quality pictures and videos on the iPad? I can, and I really hope they make it a reality in iPad 3. Some people will laugh when I say this, but I think it would be awesome to use the iPad for video and photos. You can laugh, it's okay. But imagine being on a vacation and pulling out your iPad to take a picture of some scenery. You are a top a cliff, looking at other mountains in the distance. You pull out your iPad (with a iPhone 4 back camera lens or better...) and tap the camera app. It springs to life much quicker then the camera app on your iPhone. You gaze in awe as your eyes are met with the best camera view finder created. While it may be big to hold/use, you are amazed with how everything you want a picture of is so beautifully framed, thanks to your iPad. You click the shutter, and the picture zips to your camera roll. You navigate to the camera roll, and using your built-in 3G, you send the picture to the photo site, or person of your choice. Many of you who are still reading this may ask yourself "why not just use my iPhone?" and to that I say this: With the iPad's 9.7" screen as a view finder, and an array of photo-editing apps at that are made for the iPad's screen, processor, and memory why would you want to settle for less?
Whenever a new Apple product is announced, I am always in awe at it's beauty. With the exception of the first iPad. While I loved my first iPad, i never fell in love with it's hardware. The home button felt too small, I couldn't stand that ugly metal strip that ran along all four sides of the black bezel, and considering the goal of the project, a lightweight computer, it felt heavy. With the iPad 2, all of my complaints have been addressed in terms of hardware. The home button feels bigger, more clicky. Gone are the thick ugly metal borders from the sides of the device. In addition to improved cosmetic appearance, Apple took care of my RAM complaints. I do not miss having to reload each, and every, page I had opened in Safari if it was more then 2. The weight of the iPad 2 feels just right, as does it's level of thickness. I really love how thin the iPad 2 is. It amazes me that so much can fit in so little a housing. With that said, I agree with Andy Ihnatko when he says "I hope they don't make it much thinner then this". I feel that Apple has found, and landed on, the sweet spot for the level of thickness for this device.
When iOS 4 hit for the iPad, it made it useful, let's be honest. Before iOS 4, the iPad was little more then a big iPod Touch. With iOS 4, it truly became the mobile computer that Apple made it out to be. I never felt that my iPad was slow, but when I first laid hands on the iPad 2, I felt that my iPad had become old. While it isn't screaming past the original iPad, it is a significant speed boost. Particularly, in Safari. When I first used Safari on the iPad 2, I was amazed at how much faster it loaded sites like Gizmodo and Engadget compared to the first iPad. This of course, is impart to the RAM that has been added to the iPad 2, but I believe that a lot of software optimization has gone on under the hood. There aren't many software enhancements this time around, so I guess this part of the review ends here.
I can honestly say that if you have a iPad 1, and you are looking with the iPad 2 with jealous eyes, it is worth the upgrade. If you are completely satisfied with your first gen, hang on to it. The first iPad is still a great piece of hardware. It's fast, reliable, and durable. While it may not be the best looking, most of my performance complaints were addressed with software update.