Today, a lot of people asked me whether or not I would be eagerly waiting to purchase an iPad 2 when it is eventually launched in Australia perhaps some time later this month (although last year’s delays for countries apart from the USA did cause some angst amongst customers). I was expecting to be asked this question and gave my answer some thought based upon the details announced early this morning in Australia.
Prior to the announcement, my position was already a tentative “no” to buying a new iPad. This time last year there was widespread speculation of a tablet device coming from Apple but the specifications and capabilities of the device was anyone’s guess. This time around, the mystery of the platform is very much diminished and a lot of the speculation was on the mark (apart from people seemingly begging for a retina display on the iPad to whom I say Apple does need to leave themselves some room to move for iPad 3).
FaceTime had to be included as it is a staple in every other smart device developed by Apple and a rear-facing camera was another obvious addition. Disappointingly, the rear camera is 5MP and capable of 720p video when Android smartphones and tablets awaiting imminent release top that with 8MP cameras and 1080p video. It might also seem out of place for Apple to steal the thunder from its iPhone by having another device with superior specifications ahead of an expected iPhone release in a few months (iPhone 4X anyone?). The iPad 2 doesn’t even include the HDR functionality found in the iPhone 4 despite plenty of space inside the device and increased grunt from the Apple A5 dual core CPU.
Another gripe of mine regards the memory capacities of the iPad 2 (and the iPod Touch to a lesser extent) as they are still the same as the existing line with 16, 32 and 64GB options. I find it hard to believe that we still cannot get a 128GB model with the cost of flash memory chips dropping all the time. Furthermore, the iPod Classic, which comes with 160GB of internal hard drive based memory, is better designed for music than it is for video compared to an iPad. Sure, hard drives are cheaper on a cost per gigabyte basis but the prospect put forward by Apple is that an iPod Classic is essentially an expensive external hard drive whilst the iPad, which has a screen that does a good job with video and now the ability to output 1080p via HDMI, is limited by the on board memory.
The new smart cover, while it looks nice, is another means by which to further cash in on a change of form factor. Sleeves and covers for the original iPad will have limited use which means Apple gets some more of your money directly or indirectly from a third party if they have licensed their device as part of the “compatible with iPad 2” program.
In my eyes, iPad 2 should have been what the iPad was last year. The original iPad was more like an iPad 0.5 but still good for what it was in the absence of competing products. Sure, if someone gave me one I wouldn’t complain about it but I can’t justify the expense for the incremental improvement in functionality. Had I not had an original iPad I could be talked into buying an iPad 2. It’s very clear that the iPhone is the leading edge product in Apple’s stable while the iPad and iPod Touch play second fiddle.
I’ll be sticking with my original iPad for the time being.