The iPad 2 will be released later today, but you won’t see me waiting in line, plopping down $499, and heading home with a new gadget. You see, I purchased the original iPad with 3G and 64GB of storage. A little overkill? Yes, but because I made the decision to spend a little more I’m still very happy with the iPad 1 and don’t see any reason to purchase the iPad 2.
The iPad 2 is an amazing device, it’s super fast, incredibly thin, has two cameras, and a fantastic new cover designed alongside the iPad 2. And although I would love to have all of those new features, I just can’t see spending another half-a-grand less than a year after I purchased my original iPad.
I don’t really see a need for more speed in my iPad right now. The iPad is already the fastest mobile computer I’ve ever owned. And, I can easily see it lasting another year feeling fast enough. The only real speed improvement I think I’d appreciate is the increased RAM. I often write in WordPress’ browser interface and I do get a little annoyed when I switch from one open webpage to another and it has to reload. But for the most part, I’ve managed to work around that by writing in Simplenote and then copy and pasting my text into the WordPress interface. It was an easy switch to make, especially after Apple implemented multitasking in iOS.
The iPad 1 is also plenty thin enough. I could see how 0.2-lbs. could make a difference, but honestly I’m fine with the weight and thickness of the iPad 2, at least for another year. I would enjoy having a thinner tablet but that’s not worth $500 to me. I don’t travel very often. And when I do moving the iPad to and from the car isn’t much work, especially when it’s in a bag full of other gadgets. It’s not like I’m carrying this thing to and from work everyday. Most of the time it sits on the night stand next to my bed. And, when I’m actually using it it’s either in my lap on the couch or on a tabletop. Changing the weight or thickness just won’t have much of an impact on how I use the iPad.
Apple has also built front- and rear-facing cameras into the iPad 2. But, why would I ever use them? Here’s my take on how I’d end up use the iPad 2’s cameras: when I first bring the iPad 2 home my girlfriend and I would joke around making funny faces and taking pictures with Photo Booth. This would last for about three days and then the cameras would go unused for a year. FaceTime sounds great, last year two of my sisters had their first children — the perfect FaceTime situation — but neither one of them or their husbands own a device with FaceTime. The only iPhone owners I know have 3GSs and I don’t know anyone with a Mac. So, until those people purchase a device with FaceTime (likely next summer) I won’t have anyone to FaceTime with. If I did have friends with iPhone 4s this would be a harder decision, but that just isn’t the case.
And finally, the Smart Cover. This would have been the first case-like accessory I’ve purchased for an Apple device since I bought an invisibleSHIELD for my fifth-generation iPod. I’m not too big on cases. I take very good care of my gadgets and don’t want anything on them that would add any weight or thickness to them. But, Apple managed to do something wonderful with the iPad 2 — the iPad 2 with a Smart Cover on is still thinner than the iPad 1. And, on top of that amazing feat the Smart Cover actually adds functionality to the iPad 2 in an intelligent way. It automatically unlocks the iPad when you pull the cover back and allows you to prop the iPad up at a slight angle for typing and am larger angle for movie viewing. But, even with all of those features it’s not enough to make me runout and buy. Smart Covers cost just $39-69,happy very happy using my iPad 1 with TwelveSouth’s Compass for another year. The compass is a small little stand for the iPad that can be used to prop the iPad up in the same orientations as the Smart Cover. The Compass is beautifully designed stand that seems much sturdier than (I would assume) the Smart Covers to be.
My suggestion to any iPad 1 owner is to wait another year. The iPad 2 isn’t a big enough leap forward to really justify the $500 for it. Unless you really need the ability to mirror the iPad’s display on an HDTV, have a large number of friends that you already FaceTime with, or have a good reason to pass your old iPad onto a family member, I really don’t think it’s worth the money. $499+ is a lot to spend every year just to have the latest iPad. I suspect that when comparing the size of hardware upgrades, the move from iPad 2 to 3 will be much more substantial than from 1 to 2.
I also think I’ve finally come to the conclusion that you don’t need to and probably shouldn’t purchase each new Apple device every year. For the iPhone and iPad every two years is just fine. Especially with how well Apple has historically supported older devices. The iPhone 3G was released in summer of 2008 and nearly three years later iOS 4.3 was released — the first version to no longer support the iPhone 3G. With device longevity like that, it’s getting harder and harder to justify device purchases on a yearly basis.
With all that said though, the iPad 2 is a fantastic device. Is it a big enough upgrade for iPad 1 owners to justify purchasing? I don’t think so. But, if you don’t have an iPad this is practically a “must buy.”