Sunday, 27 March 2011 05:11

The best top 10 reasons to buy an iPad 2

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The iPad 2 is now officially here, and although there will likely be supply issues over the next couple of months as Apple tries to keep as many countries re-stocked as possible, here's some reasons why you might want an iPad 2.

Although the iPad 2 effectively sells itself, it still has a lot of positive points that set it apart from its competition.

Although the new Samsung Galaxy Tab claims to be 0.2mm thinner than the iPad 2, GottaBeMobile's photo of the two side-by-side still seems to show a thinner iPad 2 than the Galaxy Tab 10.1, which appears thicker.

Thus, reason one is that the iPad 2 is still the thinnest next-gen tablet out there, and if thinness and lightness mean anything to your tablet experience, there's only one out there at the moment that qualifies.

Reason number two is price. Apple's iPad 2 is the price leader, the one advanced Android tablets at first had difficulty matching, but have been forced to come down to due to Apple not raising its iPad 2 prices, but lowering them internationally, and keeping them the same in the US - despite the US dollar having weakened against international currencies in the meantime.

Reason three is the
dual-core processor with faster operation, faster and better graphics, and twice the RAM. Although Apple is said to be clocking its 1GHz Apple A5 dual-core processor at around 800MHz, Apple is doing this because that clock speed still delivers faster operation than the previous single-core A4 processor without chewing up too much battery life.

The faster graphics capabilities speak for themselves when playing the latest games able to use the new graphics chip, and seeing that same game in lesser detail on the iPad 1.

Double the RAM is important for multi-tasking, too, and general operation. While it isn't the 1GB that Android competitors have put in their tablets, Apple simply doesn't need that extra RAM right now and has put in a 'sweet spot' of RAM that gives enough RAM to do all Apple wants to do in 2011, while saving money on not putting in 1Gb.

Reason number four
is the same battery life. By all accounts, making your device thinner, and putting in a faster CPU and graphics processor would mean more battery being chewed up that before, but despite that, Apple has impressively maintained its 10 hour battery life advantage. That's a big plus for a device you want to carry around all day, use whenever you feel like and basically never run into the flat battery problem unless you are a constant, non-stop heavy user.

Reason number five is
iPad 2 exclusive software. Sadly, the new iMovie for iPad is only for the iPad 2, and not the iPad 1. If you try and install it on the iPad 1, you're told that because there's no front facing camera, it won't install. That's a shame, but one likely reason is because a smoother, better video editing experience needs the additional oomph the iPad 2 delivers for processing and graphics.

More iPad 2 only software is sure to come, and while this is a type of fragmentation, it's usually because software needs specific capabilities of the new iPad 2, and if the iPad 1 hasn't got those capabilities, it hasn't got them! While most new iPad software will continue to be available and will run on the older iPad 1, the iPad 2 is now where it's all at for the best games and app performance available.

Reason number six
is the cool new Smart Cover. The old official Apple cover was a right royal pain to take off and put back on again, and although it was arguably the best cover out there, it just wasn't super steady when it landscape mode and just could have been better.

Although the Smart Cover is an optional extra, it was designed in tandem with the iPad 2, and is a very clever way to keep the screen protected while instantly transforming into two different types of stand, as well as turning the screen on or off automatically thanks to magnets.

While the Smart Cover does not protect the back of the iPad 2, there'll undoubtedly be some thin plastic or silicon covering for the back of your iPad 2 that seamlessly integrates with the Smart Cover on the front of the device.

Reason number seven
is the new cameras in the iPad 2. While we've all complained that these cameras aren't high resolution enough, the back camera still produces excellent 720P HD video that can, with the paid iMovie download, be easily edited and then uploaded to video sharing sites.

It transforms the iPad 2 alone into a powerful video recording, editing and publishing machine, transforming the iPad 2 into more of a content creation device than ever. And, if you need higher quality video imagery still, you can easily record video on your iPhone 4, or other digital video camera, and transfer that video to the iPad 2 for editing.

Yes, Apple needs to put in better cameras, and yes, they're clearly coming in the iPad 3, but with the two cameras now delivering photos, videos and FaceTime, even if the photos could be a lot sharper, a whole new world of apps is coming alive to take advantage of the iPad 2's cameras, and that's a great thing for iPad 2 owners to enjoy if they so wish!

Reason number eight
is the selection of apps. Apple reported over 65,000 iPad apps when it launched the iPad 2, and now that number will grow even faster. It will only be a few months before 100,000 iPad apps are announced, with a likely specific smaller subset that are specifically for the iPad 2's improved hardware capabilities.

With the app selection of tablet-optimised apps still thought to be less than 100 strong,the iPad 2's immense software library, augmented further by another 300,000+ iPhone apps, the massively vast majority of which work on the iPad 1 and 2 as well, means you have the utmost software choice when it comes to tablet computing.

Reason number nine
is that the iPad 2 and virtually all of the iDevices before it are still jailbreakable. While this is frowned upon by Apple, it opens up a world of forbidden apps that Apple wouldn't allow on its App Store. If you're into that kind of thing, and like having full control over the technology in your possession, Apple's thriving jailbreak and hacking community is a vibrant reason why you'll likely prefer Apple's devices to those of anyone else.

Reason number ten
is both the very wide selection of legal digital music, movies, TV shows, audiobooks and books available to download via iTunes, alongside the thriving third-party accessories market.

The widest range of accessories, cases, screen protectors, dock-port add-ons, external battery chargers, sleeves and more is the other part of the tenth reason, with everyone trying to make the iPad 2 cooler. There are even some luxury cases, like those of Hermes, that cost more than the iPad it self!

Reason number 11 is our bonus reason. This reason is that the iPad 2 is actually available. Just having launched in 25 countries, the iPad 2 is more widely available than ever. Although stocks are in short supply in the US, and are expected to become so anywhere the iPad 2 has officially launched, Apple is pumping out as many iPad 2 model as it can.

Meanwhile, the reseller market thrives, selling units at up to double their recommended retail pricing in markets like Hong Kong, China, elsewhere in Asia and the Middle East, all places where the iPad 2 has not yet officially launched.

iPad 2 models are flying off the shelves there too, showing how popular the iPad 2 is even at dramatically inflated pricing thanks to the immutable law of supply and demand.

Although some iPad 2 owners have placed online orders that have been delayed and are basically 3-4 or more weeks away from delivery, even those orders are on their way, although finding an actual iPad 2 to buy on the spot is the fool proof way of guaranteeing an iPad 2 in your possession.

That said, Apple clearly doesn't want to keep people waiting forever, so while stocks may be tricky to get for a few weeks at some point in the not too distant future, as is already the reality for Americans right now, Apple's production partners are going as fast as they can to really pump the iPad 2 models out, hopefully as flawlessly as possible.

Extra bonus reason number 12 is because the iPad 2, with an optional HDMI adapter (and also reportedly a VGA adaptor) is able to mirror everything on the iPad 2's screen onto an external monitor or TV. Previously only Steve Jobs had this capabilitity on stage. There are 'video out' solutions but they were only for games, photos, web browsers and selecter other apps. It's a great feature for speakers, presenters, teachers, game players - indeed, anyone that would love to use their iPad 2's and show people on a larger screen exactly what it is they are doing.

So'¦ the iPad 2 is here, and despite even better Android competition, it's no longer the only game in town, but it certainly still is the main one, attracting all the attention and doing everything in its power to make Android tablets unattractive, expensive or so cheap they're worthless and both underpowered and under-featured, merely through the explanation of the iPad's benefits to its users, rather than the technical speeds and feeds that might sound good on paper but then has third-party software unable to yet take full advantage of the new power on offer.

That's the different between Apple and Google: Apple has really thought about this and has been incredibly methodical in rolling out its plans and seeing them come to fruition time and again. Apple has placed the user first. 

Google has only really though the whole mobile game in terms of how much advertising it can show tablet users as they surf the web all day. It has thought of its advertising opportunities first, not its consumers first.

Google is slowly learning and poses the biggest threat to the iPad 2's current domination of all those before it.

So, if you want to get an iPad 2, and don't want to miss out and then be forced to join more queues or wait endlessly, trying to secure your iPad 2 in the colour of your choice during the week after launch, and not leaving it until too much later, is probably quite advisable!

UPDATE: Need more reasons to buy an iPad 2? Here's 10 more top 10 reasons to buy an iPad 2!


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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