iPad2: Magical-er Than Ever

Special Guest Commentary by Hadrian
I am not a Mac-geek by day; I’m an IT guy who specializes in Microsoft technology. Until a few years ago, I would make fun of anyone who had an Apple product. We called them “Fisher-Price PCs.” But I am a pragmatist, and I buy products based on a few things: how good it is by itself; how well it plays with the technology I already own; and price. After the original iPhone accidentally landed in my paws years ago, almost all of my tech purchases since then have had Apple logos on them. They really do make amazing technological devices that play well together.

I own the original iPad. Besides the incredibly handsome Jonathan Ive saying, “It’s magical…amazing…and changes EVERYTHING,” I must admit that it’s really a solid tablet. The beautiful screen, uber functional iOS and solid construction make it a wonder to behold. It plays inside the Apple ecosystem with my iPhone and Mac—even with Windows PC via iTunes. It plays all the music and videos I own, has an amazing array of apps, fantastic games, GPS, and in addition to being an ebook reader, the Comixology app makes it a damn good comic book reader. The business and productivity apps like Pages and Numbers made my laptop obsolete within a few months. I own an AppleTV, and I watch enough movies and shows with my iPad that I was able to cancel my cable. The price comes in at $499.00 for the 16GB version with WiFi and up to $829.00 for a 64GB device with AT&T 3G. This device still stands above its competitors, and it’s still cheaper. It is the tablet to have.

Or it was…until today. Apple just announced the iPad2, just shy of the first birthday of the original. My magical device suddenly seems like a paperweight compared to the thinner, faster, more powerful, camera-loaded device Steve Jobs bestowed upon the masses. The iPad2 clocks in at 33% thinner, making it 15% lighter and easier to hold, while still giving us the same 10-hour battery life. The new dual core processor will make it even faster than the original iPad (which was pretty fast itself) and adds nine times more graphics power. The big screen, combined with the new dual cameras, are going to make Facetime with my boyfriend even more fun (wink wink). All of this at the same price as the original, while also boasting both AT&T and Verizon 3G connectivity, if you so desire.

What’s not to love? Well, there is that closed ecosystem. Apple has created rules around iOS devices that are a little stifling for developers. The Trojan horse of this beautiful device is Apple’s exercises in all kinds of restrictions. Reports continue of censored books and apps, and since Steve Jobs believes we need “freedom from porn,” the iPad isn’t quite as adult-friendly as one would hope. Apple also requires a 30% cut of every dime a developer makes with the apps. While the product itself is solid, the games being played by Apple in the business arena are lurking in the shadows. The device is also difficult to interface outside of iTunes or other iOS devices, though there are apps that can help with that. All of these negatives could change eventually, of course. Apple could change its rules and ease its restrictions, and as the tablet software matures, it could continue to gain new abilities that will allow it to play nice with its competitors.

If you don’t have and iPad, now is probably the time to get on board. If you already own an iPad, you could skip this version, of course, unless the cameras and under-the-hood improvements truly excite you. As for me, I won’t be in line on launch day, but I will definitely be getting one eventually. And probably sooner than later. 

HADRIAN is a computer god, a gaming wizard and a comics guru.image