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Posted at 9:12 AM ET, 03/10/2011

iPad 2 Review Roundup

By Hayley Tsukayama

The iPad 2 is a worthy successor to the iPad and keeps Apple ahead of the tablet market. As Daring Fireball's John Gruber, said in his review, "If you didn't like the original iPad, you're not going to like the iPad 2. If you liked the original iPad, you're going to like the iPad 2 even better." But is it a must-buy?

If you haven't made your decision yet, here's what the reviews are saying this morning."

It's sleeker and fasterThumbnail image for 33percent.jpg

There's almost universal agreement that this iPad, if nothing else, is a joy to hold and behold. Now 15 percent lighter and one-third slimmer, the new design "transforms the experience," says The New York Times' David Pogue. Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal said, "While the 1.33-pound weight isn't that much less than the original's, I found the difference noticeable when carrying the device." Both said the rounded edges make a difference in overall comfort while using the device.

Despite it's slimmer design, however, reviewers said that the tablet doesn't feel flimsy. All in all, the tablet gets top marks for its body tweaks. "The iPad 2 is the MacBook Air of tablets, writes Laptop Magazine's Mark Spoonauer.

There's also been a noticeable speed upgrade. "The original never felt slow, but the faster I can start a new game of "Plants vs. Zombies," the better," writes AP technology writer Rachel Metz.

"From the moment I started using the iPad 2 with familiar apps from my original iPad, I could tell that the system was faster. I thought scrolling through tweets in Twitterrific on my iPad was smooth as can be ... until I scrolled through the tweet list on the iPad 2. Everything felt smoother, and items loaded faster," wrote MacWorld's Jason Snell.

But the cameras

iPad 2 camera.jpg

Engadget's Joshua Topolsky is blunt about the tablet's cameras, saying, "Let's just put this out there: the iPad 2 cameras are really pretty bad." Apple's definitely playing catch-up with its cameras, and many reviewers agreed with Engadget that the cameras could leave consumers wanting. Here, several reviewers said the Xoom's cameras are undeniably superior.

Using the iPad for video can also be an awkward affair. Both still captures and video recording aren't exactly conducive to the iPad's size and many reviewers said the cameras were the most underwhelming feature on the device.Snell says, "It's nice that they're there, but they're not particularly impressive in terms of quality."

Even among camera fans, the camera quality was a downside."If you've never used a tablet as a camera, you're in for a treat; the entire screen is your viewfinder. It's like using an 8-by-10 enlargement to compose the scene," write Pogue. "Bafflingly, though, the stills are only 0.7 megapixels."

Against the Xoom?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for motorola_xoom_ces.jpg

Overall, the reviews say that the iPad 2 is still THE tablet to buy, even with a bevy of competitors waiting to take it down. Pogue and Mossberg both say the Xoom looks huge -- "obese," from the former and "bloated" from the latter -- in comparison to the Apple tablet. Gruber did point out that the Xoom is a hair faster in CPU speed tests and Metz pointed out that the Xoom's display is sharper as well.

Still, while the iPad 2 is not a perfect product, Engadget said, " needs to be said: the iPad 2 isn't just the best tablet on the market, it feels like the only tablet on the market."

A key point from Mossberg, the iPad 2 never crashed, he said, unlike "every Android tablet I've tested." Ouch.

Should I upgrade?

While the iPad 2 sounds amazing, most reviewers say it's not a huge improvement over its predecessor. iPad owners, if you haven't already made your decision to upgrade, you may want to wait. The reviews here say that it may be worth waiting for the iPad 3, whenever that may come out. If you can bear to, that is. Gruber says it best:

If you buy a new iPhone or iPod Touch every year, then, yes, you should replace your old iPad with the iPad 2. It's thinner, a comparative joy to hold in hand, noticeably faster, gets the exact same battery life, and has more RAM (spoiler: 512 MB). If you don't buy a new iPhone every year -- if you have the good sense to hold onto them for more than a year before upgrading to a new model -- then you'll likely want to wait for a new iPad, too.

Bottom lines

WSJ: "I can comfortably recommend it as the best tablet for average consumers."

NYT: "It means that for the first time, your heart can succumb to the iPad mystique -- without having to ignore the practical input from your brain."

Daring Fireball: "The iPad 2 is a solid second-generation iteration.... Like last year's iPhone 4, it seems like technology from the near future."

Macworld: "The first iPad was a bolt from the blue, a device that defined an entire category, and a tough act to follow. The iPad 2 follows it with aplomb."

AP: "Without question, the iPad 2 is a great tablet. Still, this doesn't mean the first iPad is ready for the trash can. It's still a stellar gadget, and now it's cheaper (while supplies last) with the arrival of a successor."

Engadget: For owners of the previous generation, we don't think Apple's put a fire under you to upgrade. Unless you absolutely need cameras on your tablet, you've still got a solid piece of gear that reaps plenty of the benefits of the latest OS and apps. For those of you who haven't yet made the leap, feel free to take a deep breath and dive in -- the iPad 2 is as good as it gets right now.

By Hayley Tsukayama  | March 10, 2011; 9:12 AM ET
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I've had the iPad since it was launched almost a year ago and not once did I miss a camera - front or rear. Ok, I can understand that folks who video-conference might want a front facing one, but rear? Who would ever use an iPad as a camera??? Beats me.

Posted by: qqtote | March 10, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

I am so happy for the Ipad 2, not it is only a year until the Ipad 3. Always buy the third gen release of an Apple product Gen 1 for rabid apple fan boys and developers, Gen 2 for the marketers and gen 3 for real people wanting it all together. With a retina display, real camera suitable for augmented reality gps walking Ipad 3 will be great. Yeah I could and do have it today in my Iphone 4 but the letters are a little too small for ageing eyes.

Posted by: TDSTim | March 10, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I was excited about possibly purchasing an iPad 2 as my first tablet, until I found out about the crappy cameras, and the 512MB internal RAM, and remembered that I wouldn't be able to view websites that use Adobe Flash, and I wouldn't be able to simply drag and drop files from my various PCs and my Mac when I want to take them somewhere. Granted, apps from major developers (like games by Electronic Arts) will undoubtedly hit the App Store first before having Android versions available. However, I have not had any problems so far finding apps and games I want and need for my Android smartphone. So, based on all of this, I'm 70% in the Android tablet camp (notably the Xoom, but there will be others released throughout the year that run Android Honeycomb). But if the iPad had decent cameras and ran flash, I'd be sold.

Posted by: GreenMeansGo | March 10, 2011 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Are you an ultra-techy geek who wants to build his own device and mess with settings - then go buy your Zoom.

And leave the vast overwhelming majority of people who will prefer the iPad2 alone.

Posted by: WillSeattle | March 10, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I'm not ultra-techy, just a little techy (but I do like to mess with settings). I own a 1st generation iPod touch, but I haven't used it for anything except a nighttime sound machine since I got my Android phone in January 2010 (which I haven't even "rooted"). But, prior to that, the iPod Touch went everywhere with me. And if an iPhone had been available on Verizon at the time, I would have 100% certainly gotten one instead of the Android phone (but then, of course, I wouldn't have known what I was missing in terms of Android's capabilities). As I said, I only have 3 gripes with the iPad 2. Unlike many Android users, I don't hate Apple or Apple products. I really like my Mac, and I used to love my iPod touch.

Apple's marketing of the iPad has been truly amazing. Its competitors will really need to step up their game, REDUCE PRICES, and develop some KILLER, MUST-HAVE feature or app to gain significant market share. But the marketing is the key. Consumers will buy a shiny brick if it's marketed well. Apple has the marketing savvy, and their using it to sell something much better than a shiny brick! I don't see them losing significant market share anytime soon. But right now, as good as it is, their product still doesn't do what I need it to do, so I have to look elsewhere.

Posted by: GreenMeansGo | March 10, 2011 3:16 PM | Report abuse

FLASH! GreenMeansGo et al.
Adobe's new "Wallaby" is available for developers to convert Flash files to HTML5, which run on Apple's Safari browser. Some of the reviewers didn't know that. Among the sources:

If that's all you need, order now. I'm sold!

Posted by: fmcf | March 10, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Apple is like the British Empire, you get your smooth I/f (better govt), and reasonable performance (rail roads Etc), but you give up the chance to excel(all the bans on engineering education of people in the empire), you have to buy Apple (British) under draconian controls. Foreign moral standards are enforced with a iron hand, except when it profits the Empire (Apple no porn except Play BOy).
So buy Apple products if you like being a member of the British Empire.

Posted by: Muddy_Buddy_2000 | March 11, 2011 7:09 AM | Report abuse

"Despite it's slimmer design, however,"

Argh! NO ONE who is employed by The Washington Post should be making an error like that!


Posted by: kt76 | March 11, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse


Can you do a service provider use cost prediction for non-iPad but iPhone users? AT&T and Verizon. Thank you.

Posted by: nickpaffett | March 11, 2011 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Nick, the plans for the iPad Wi-Fi + 3G are non-contract. They cost $15 for 200 MBs or $25 per month for 2 GBs at AT&T) or $30 per month (2 GBs from Verizon). There are some additional charges for overage with Verizon particularly.

Posted by: query0 | March 12, 2011 12:15 AM | Report abuse

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