iPads Review

apple-ipad-2Introduction

iPad1 was introduced in April 2010. 3 million of ipads were sold within the first 80 days.  At the end of 2010, Apple gobbled up 75% share of the tablet PC market.  With the release of iPad2 in March 2011, Apple practically monopolized the tablet PC market. The Apple iPad was selected as one of the Best Inventions of the Year 2010 by Time Magazine.

It is easy to chalk up the iPad’s success to the craze and the fever from Apple followers. It is true that these loyal customers wouldn’t mind spending hours, rain or shine, waiting to get in Apple’s retail outlets to snatch up the first new product or a new release.  This type of zeal is partially due to the phenomenal product launch buzz Steve Jobs and team perfected over the years, partially because Apple’s products stand on its own as the best representation in the intersection of art and technology.  I can’t think of too many brands these days that can outshine Apple in this regard.

Table of Contents (click a title to jump ahead)

Introduction | Consider Buying | Display | Design | Storage | Other Hardware | Connectivity | Web | Apps | Content | What’s Included | Pros | Cons | Customer Rating | Where to Buy | Customer Reviews

Who Should Consider Buying iPad?

iPad is, by definition, a tablet PC.  It has an array of features for multi-media consumption such as viewing videos/movies/TV shows, playing games, reading books, surfing the net, etc.  However, it is not meant to be a portable PC for your creation and production although there are a few apps for this purpose.

It is a great device for people of all age groups and from all walks of life. For example, teenagers can use it for video viewing, FaceTiming, and other social media activities. For students, it is definitely a great device to load up with textbooks and study materials to give the back and shoulders a much deserved break.

For business road warriors, iPad2 is perfect to catch up on work documents and leisurely reading on an airplane.  For moms-on-go, you can squeeze in a bit “me” time to read The Girls with the Dragon Tattoo when waiting for little Jennie to get done with her piano lesson. For retirees or grandparents, it is so hip to FaceTime your grandchildren to see how they are doing, to see their smiles and to hear their infectious laughs.  Not to mention the numerous ways to use iPads in business and commercial ways.

Display, Screen Size and User Interface

The Apple iPad comes with an impressive 9.7 display size diagonally with a LED-backlit glossy widescreen multi-touch display with IPS technology. 

The screen size is just right for most of the enjoyments.  Occasionally, you may need to zoom in a bit if you are reading a magazine or a content-jammed web page.

There are four physical switches on the iPad, Home button that returns the user to the main menu and three plastic physical switches on the sides: wake/sleep, and volume up/down, a dock-connector.  I do use the buttons to adjust the volume from time to time when I accidentally knock the volume switch up or down.

I use it for checking emails when I get up.  I take it to a client’s meeting when I need to reference a document in my Dropbox.  It is an ideal travel companion when I travel overseas or across the country.  I use iPad2 to read at night or watch videos before I go to bed instead of sitting at my computer for a few more hours. 

Sometimes, I watch/listen to a video when I put my make-up on in the morning.  I also use it in the kitchen when I want to try out a new recipe.  I find a recipe and leave it on when I am cooking, or better yet, I would find the episode from Food Network to re-watch it while cooking to make sure I get all the ingredients.

There is a night-reading function where you will have black ground with white text so not to disturb your spouse in his or her sleep.

One thing I just figured out how to do is to lock the screen into one position, either portrait for reading or landscape for web viewing.  This is really handy because when I wiggle around in bed to a different position, the screen wouldn’t switch from one orientation to another inadvertently.

I don’t turn off my iPad (unless I have to) since I have the iPad Cover to shut the device off when closing.

Design/Weight/Dimensions

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I don’t have iPad1.  From reading a number of customer reviews, I gathered the design of iPad2 was much improved as opposed to iPad1 in a few areas.

The most noticeable design improvement is in the weight and dimensions of iPad2.  iPad2 is 33% thinner and 15% lighter than iPad1, even thinner than the iPhone 4. I have the 32GB Wi-Fi model without 3G.  My iPad2 weighs 1.3 pounds.

I don’t know about other people with bigger hands.  I have to hold my iPad with two hands or prop it up on a throw pillow when I read in bed.

Another improvement is the frame of the device.  The frame for iPad2 is curved and less-domed than iPad1. The curved backing makes it very ergonomic for long-time holding.

One thing I wish the device would have had is a rubberized backing for its protection.  As sleek as it looks with the metal backing, I am always afraid of accidental scratches and drops.  Although I bought a Smart Cover for the front screen, and a case for the entire device, I can’t have the case on when using the iPad.

There are two color choices for iPad2, black and white.

If I want to be excessive, I would also have a Kindle Touch3G or a Nook Color to carry it around for light-reading or surfing.  As much as the iPad only weighs less than 1.5 pounds, it is still heavy and big enough to carry it in my purse.

Memory, Storage and Battery

iPad 2 has 1GHz Apple5 chip dual core processor with 512MB RAM memory compared to original iPad’s 256MB RAM.  What this means to you is the faster speed and smoother transition in web page loading, game playing, and video viewing.

iPad2 has three models in terms of flash storage, 16GB, 32GB and 64GB.  Each has a different price point.  I bought the 32GB model and still have plenty of storage space on the device.  If you are a big-time movie watcher, you may consider getting the 64GB.  For average folks, 16 to 32GB is sufficient to load some books, documents, movies and music.

Another impressive feature of iPad is the long battery life.  It has 10 hours video, 140 hours audio and 1 month standby battery life.  Since I watch quite a bit videos, I just plug mine in at night to charge it up for the next day.  You don’t have to do it that often.

Other Hardware

Camera

The iPad2 has a front and rear-facing cameras, both capable of still images and videos. The rear-facing camera has 5x digital zoom for still images. Both have a 4:3 full screen aspect ratio.  The quality of the camera is not great.  The output of the video-recording or photo-taking are grainy and pale in comparison to those by the iPhone or a digital camera.  I wouldn’t use iPad2 to take pictures or videos when roaming in Rome anytime soon.

The front-facing one is great when using FaceTime to chat with your friends and family across the country or faraway.  FaceTime is a video-chatting feature for all Apple products similar to Skype.  Whether you are dating someone long distance, or just want to check in to see how your mom is doing, you can use FaceTime to chat as long as the other party has an iProduct (iPhone4, iPod Touch, iPad2 or a Mac).

Audio

The iPad2 has two internal speakers located on the bottom-right of the device. You can adjust the volume up or down.  I’ve found the location of the speakers inopportune at times. Occasionally I would bump it to adjust the volume since it’s at the bottom of the device.

A 3.5mm audio jack on the top left corner is for headphones with or without volume controls. The iPad2 also has a microphone that can be used for recording if you are into an app like GarageBand.

Printer

iPad enables you to print your email, photos, documents or web pages as long as the printer is AirPrint enabled. iPad automatically detects and connects to the AirPrint enabled printers on your Wi-Fi network. No need to download software or to install a printer driver. Just tap print, select a printer and print.

Here is a list of printers that support AirPrint, including Brother, Canon, ESPON, Hewlett Packard and Lexmark.  I have HP at home and printing from iPad is just a few taps away.

Connectivity

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iPhone2 is equipped with free Wi-Fi and optional 3G.  The 3G capability is offered through both AT & T and Verizon networks.  Make sure you choose the right network when buying a device.  The 3G option costs around $130 more at the time of this review.  In addition, you may have to pay for a monthly data plan. 

The device will recognize the Wi-Fi hotspots within the designated networks.  You don’t have to go through the trouble to set it up or connect it to your iPad.  For those models with 3G, the device uses HSPA (High-Speed Packet Access ) or other data networks to access the Internet.

Since the release of iOS5 with iCloud capability, the device doesn’t need to be managed and synced by iTunes via a USB cable.

Web Browsing

Safari is the default web browser for all i-devices, including iPhones and iPads.  The speed of web surfing in my iPad is not as fast as my laptop, granted that I have a more powerful laptop with a quad core processor to handle multi-media creation and production. 

One limitation in iPad is that it doesn’t support Adobe Flash.  So if the web page is Adobe Flash based, you may have trouble viewing it in your iPad.

ipad2-appsApplications

The applications come with iPad2 include Safari, Mail, Photos, Video, YouTube, iPod, iTunes, App Store, iBooks, Maps, Notes, Calendar, and Contacts.  Some of the apps are the improved versions originally developed for iPhone or Mac.

There is no shortage of apps for iPad.  As of June 2011, there are about 90,000 iPad specific apps on the Apple Store.  There are additional 300,000 apps for idevices applicable for iPad as well.  Some of the apps are free, others are paid versions.

The most popular app in Apple Store among musician and others alike is GarageBand.  Whether you want to learn to play or practice piano, compose and record a song, GarageBand has everything you need.  Some of the most powerful features are: audio recording where you have your own digital audio workstation and music sequencer all in your iPad.

Always want to learn to play the piano or guitar?  No sweat!  There is a Lesson Store in GarageBand app where you can download two types of lessons.  The first one is called Basic Lessons which are free; the second is fee-based Artist Lessons. In both lessons, a music teacher teaches you in a special format with high quality video and audio instructions.

Here are a few of my favorite apps such as Kindle, TED, and Food Network,  Since I purchase most of my e-reading content from Amazon, having Kindle is really convenient to download my reading materials to my iPad and sync up all the content across devices (PC, iPhone and iPad).

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design.  It is a global set of conferences owned by a private non-profit organization called Sapling Foundation.  The conference offers a great venue for convergence of great minds to speak about technology, entertainment and design.  It was first held in 1984 as a one-off event in Monterey, California.  It has since spread like a wild fire.  Now the conference is held around the globe every year.

I frequent TED myself when I am done with work.  It offers a source of inspiration for me on multiple levels (intellectual, technological, medical and spiritual).  Check out more on TED (www.ted.com) if you are interested.

Believe it or not, one of my best pass-times is to watch Food Network.  I live to eat.  I love cooking.  Food Network is where I get a lot of my ideas for whipping up new dishes.  Having the app on my iPad is so handy when I am preparing a meal in the kitchen.  I can flip to see the recipe or watch the episode when Ina Garten was preparing Beef Bourguignon.

I do have a few apps for light creation and production such as Document 2 for light word processing, Dropbox to store a few folders from my PC, and Evernote for note-taking.

Content

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Apple is hands-down a big winner in offering multi-media content download and consumption. iBooks app lets you download books in ePub and other formatted content to your iPad.

As much as they are Apple’s competitors, Amazon and Barnes and Noble also have apps for iPad users to download Kindle and Nook books. Major publishers such as Penguin Books, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan have all committed to publishing books for the iPad. The same goes for major news and magazine publishers such as Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times.

What about music, video, movies and TV shows? There is no shortage once you step into the iTune online store.

What’s in the Box?

The package includes iPad2 device, a dock connector to USB cable, 10W USB power adapter, and product documentation.

Pros

The iPad2’ has enhanced design and styling elements with a solid and premium feel.  It is lighter and thinner which means more portability and less dependence on a laptop for the users.

With A5 core processor of 512MB RAM, it is faster and smoother whether to surf on the Net or enjoy an app. The release of iOS5 makes it seamless for you to sync up all your digital content in all idevices without having to plug in your iPad to the PC.

With never-ending new apps developed for iPad and other idevices, you are not going to run out of things to do on your iPad.

In short, iPad2 is undoubtedly the best tablet on the market to date.

Cons

As much as I love my iPad2, it has flaws.  To start off, it has a steep price tag starting at $499. Most of the customers wish there were USB included in the package and a SD card slot for memory expansion. Customers also have to buy adapters to hook up with camera and TV. However, the iPad Camera Connection Kit accessory provides two dock connector adapters for importing photos and videos via USB and SD memory cards.

Customer Rating

The average customer rating is 4 out 5 stars. I’ve highlighted most of the pros and cons from the actual customers in this detailed review.

Price of iPads

The prices for iPad2 are $499, $599, and $699 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB at the time of this review.  You may have to pay more for the optional 3G model, plus a monthly data plan subscription charge.  Remember to check out the latest prices as they do charge all the time.

Where to Buy iPad2?

iPad is sold via Apple Store (www.apple.com), Amazon, Wal-Mart and a few other retail and online outlets. Prices in these stores are comparable for the most part, especially between Amazon and Wal-Mart.   The advantages of shopping on Amazon are the pleasant shopping experience, the ability to read detailed customer reviews before making up your mind to buy, and better price due to multiple seller’s competition.

Care to Read More Customer Reviews on Amazon?

You may read more actual customer reviews on Amazon here.

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