Until recently, I have never owned an Apple product outside of an 80GB iPod. I just wanted to lead off with that statement because, as many of you are likely fully aware, there are three types of people in this world: Those who absolutely LOVE Apple and every single product they pump out, those who opt to instead hate the company with a fiery passion for no discernible reason whatsoever, and those who quite simply don’t give a shit.
Myself? I quite simply don’t give a shit.
As I said, I own a regular old thumb-wheel iPod. The kind they had before all that touch-screen jazz and WiFi garbage. Just a simple, easy-to-use, well-built music player. It is an amazing product, and is far superior to the new iPod touches in nearly every manner as far as I’m concerned.
With the exception of that one gadget, I’ve never held even the slightest interest in anything Apple has made, including the iPad.
Since the introduction of the iPad to the mass consumer market way back when (I should probably look up the year it came out, but like I said: I don’t give a shit), its reception has been pretty evenly split amongst individuals who find the machine to be a fantastic productivity tool, and others who simply view it as a toy or accessory. I’ve been using my iPad 2 for well over a month now, and am still struggling to find any use for it other than Plants vs. Zombies.
That can be attributed to a few things. First off, an iPad is by no means a replacement for a laptop computer. It lacks so many features that one can simply not use it to phase computer usage out of their lives completely (especially considering the fact that you need a computer just to set the device up). There are no ports to export data to thumb drives or other storage devices, you can’t plug your iPod into it to add media, it offers no flash support which means that many web pages load with only a portion of their content, and it simply doesn’t offer the necessary software a personal computer needs to make it… well, a personal computer. In short; the iPad is, at least at this stage of its life, a powerful and somewhat useful accessory.
Second and likely more significant is the fact that I just don’t know how to use it properly. I am used to having a laptop that lets me do whatever I need to do, wherever and whenever I need to do it.
I’m slowly starting to learn how to make do with the iPad’s limited offerings of word-processing software and am finding the necessary apps that substitute for tasks I was able to achieve on my laptop’s web browser. For instance, I am writing this review using the free WordPress app and typing with a bluetooth Logitech keyboard/case (review shortly). I’ve also got a Netflix app for watching Parks and Recreation, and a few others that make productivity on the iPad a possibility, though a very limited one.
However, at around $500 it is one of the most fairly-priced tablets on the market and, while it doesn’t offer as much as some of the better Android-powered alternatives available, it almost certainly works with fewer issues and a significantly better battery life. Netflix works like a charm, the web browser is mostly competent, built-in iTunes is fantastic, and there is a vast plethora of apps and games to entertain just about everybody out there. This fact alone makes the iPad 2 one of the best tablets on the market.
The iPad 2 has rear and front-facing cameras for taking stills and videos as well as doing video chat, a volume rocker, mute/screen-lock switch, built-in speakers and a microphone (both of which are of higher quality that any Android tablet I’ve used), 9mm headphone jack, proprietary USB jack for charging/syncing to your computer, and a single face button.
As I sated, this is far from a laptop replacement, but it’s also much more than a big-ass iPod Touch. Once you get the swing of things and find some decent accessories, you can figure out ways to make your iPad work as a productive and useful gadget. It is one of the most fairly-priced and best-performing tablets on the market, making it an almost automatic default choice for anyone looking for one.
However, don’t expect to be able to accomplish absolutely everything your computer can do when using your iPad. Tablets in general have simply not grown enough to be as efficient or well-rounded as their clamshelled brethren. If you’ve got the money to spend and want a fun toy that can stand in when you don’t want to lug your laptop around, I would recommend looking into an iPad 2. Of course, be sure to do some research and weigh your options before making a final choice.
- Great screen and battery-life
- Can be fairly productive, though a bit limited
- Competitively priced
- Plants vs. Zombies
- Quite simply not as useful as a computer
- No flash support
- No really good word-processing software
Score: 8.0/10 (Great for what it is)