Apple iPad 2: Not What We Hoped For, But Not Too Shabby, Either
No, really. That's the tl;dr version of my first take on the announcement of what would actually be in the iPad 2, and it's my own fault. I read too many rumors in the months leading up to the March 2 event, and I'm now in a mental state that's closer to a post-holiday letdown than anything else.
Honestly, I have little to complain about when I look at the specs for the iPad 2. The new model will be several ounces lighter than the original version, while holding the line on battery life and standby time. It will have cameras on the front and rear, as in the iPhone 4; and it will be available in white as well as black.
The version of iOS that will ship with iPad 2 looks pretty good as well. Most of the feature enhancements in iOS 4.3 are going to appeal to consumers rather than businesses, although the performance improvements derived from the use of the dual-core A5 processor and the support for HSUPA (High-Speed Uplink Packet Access) on the AT&T network will benefit users in their corporate roles as well as their personal ones.
Maintaining the price points for the various memory and networking configurations is a smart move by Apple; it allows IT organizations that have contemplated bulk purchases to work from the numbers they've had. It's also nice to see that the iPad 2 will be available in a model that supports Verizon's 3G network.
I'm intrigued by the possibilities that the new HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) support for mirrored video affords; I see this as being a way to make presentations come alive as never before. Likewise, I'm sure that businesses will find uses for the iPad version of GarageBand and iMovie that will be released for the iPad 2; the latter will be particularly useful for capturing person-in-the-street reactions.
Maybe, I'm being unrealistically cynical by calling the iPad 2 "meh," but I get paid to look for the clouds underneath the silver linings, and what's leaving me flat on iPad 2 is the apparent lack of a sharper screen. I understand that engineering issues prevented Apple from offering a screen running at the same resolution as the iPhone 4's "Retina" display. Apple hasn't disclosed the exact specs of the iPad 2's display, but I hope that it's a notch better than the original's, even if it's not up to "Retina" standards.
This is a big deal to me because I've become spoiled. I have to admit that, after using an iPhone 4 for several months, the original iPad's display looks rather grainy. I'm not sure that this will be as important to Apple's customers, but this does leave Apple a way to offer an easily visible improvement in iPad 3, whenever that hits the shelves.
I know this much: I made the right decision by holding off on buying an iPad for my mother until this model came out. Will businesses that haven't gotten around to deploying iPad en masse do so, now that the device's appeal is not only proven but improved? That seems to be what Apple's betting on, at least for the moment.