iPad 2 vs iPad

With the long-rumoured iPad 2 having been made official, how does it compare to the original article? Is there enough to convince existing iPad users to trade up to the second-generation model, or are the changes not significant enough? We engaged Apple's 2nd iPad in a tense spec-off with its predecessor to see if it's worth the upgrade. Read on to find out how the two tablets fared against each other.

Form Factor

Winner: iPad 2
241.2 x 185.7 x 8.8mm; 601g
Loser: iPad
243 x 190 x 13 mm, 680g (Wi-Fi), 730g (Wi-Fi + 3G)



Size is a key consideration when you're shopping for any kind of mobile device so it's one of the first things that you'll look at when looking for a new tablet. The original iPad is a fairly sturdy beast that's actually a fair bit heavier than it looks. The new version is considerably lighter than its predecessor at 601g, compared to the 680g Wi-Fi-only model and the whopping 730g of the original Wi-Fi +3G version. The reduced weight is mainly down to the fact that the iPad 2 is 33% thinner than the older version, having slimmed down from 13.4 to 8.8mm. With its new svelte profile, the iPad 2 definitley gets one over on its older sibling. AND it'll be available in black or white from day 1.

Display

Tie: iPad
9.7in, 1024×768, LCD with IPS
Tie: iPad 2
9.7in, 1024×768, LCD with IPS


When it comes to the display, the iPad 2 is identical to the first model. Both offer the same 9.7-inch screen and both use LCD technology with IPS so you should get a pretty good viewing angle. It might have been nice to see a slightly higher screen resolution on the new model, but Apple is sticking with 1024x768 pixels, meaning that we have no choice but to declare this round a tie.


Engine Room

Winner: iPad 2
Apple A5 chip, 512MB RAM
Loser: iPad
Apple A4 chip, 256MB RAM


One of the most significant changes on the new iPad model is the inclusion of Apple's new A5 processing chip. This dual-core 1GHz processor is said to be two times faster than its predecessor, with a GPU that's nine times faster, while still maintaining the same low power consumption of the A4. What's more, the RAM count has reportedly been upped from 256MB on the previous generation to a far more capable 512MB. This means a clear win on paper for the the iPad 2, which should hopefully result in speedier operation and improved performance on graphics.


Imaging

Winner: iPad 2
Front-facing cam, rear cam, 720p video
Loser: iPad
Absolutely zilch



Right from the very start, one of the most complained about aspects of the original iPad was its lack of any kind of camera. Ever since then it's been widely assumed that the second-gen iPad would at least include a VGA front-facing camera for FaceTime calling and it's no surprise that this has turned out to be the case. Whether you really need a rear-facing camera on a relatively large device like a tablet is debatable, but seeing as most of its competitors have included both front- and rear-facing cams it may have looked slightly amiss if Apple hadn't. The iPad 2 has a rear-facing camera with a 5x digital zoom and 720p video capture.

Storage

Tie: iPad
16GB, 32GB or 64GB
Tie: iPad 2
16GB, 32GB or 64GB



There were rumours that the new iPad would include an SD card slot to offer expandable memory - which would have been a completely new move for Apple. However, the internet rumour mill since reported that this was scrapped at the last minute due to "engineering issues". Instead, the iPad 2 offers exactly the same memory capacity configurations as the original model - 16, 32 or 64GB. We would have been quite shocked it had been any different.


Connectivity

Winner: iPad 2
3G, Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth, HDMI support
Loser: iPad
3G, Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth


Naturally we'd expect to find both 3G and Wi-Fi on Apple's new tablet, with both Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + 3G models being offered. The iPad 2 also has an idential Bluetooth offering to the original iPad (version 2.1) although this time round, it adds HDMI support to the party. This means that you'll be able to hook up your iPad to a compatible high-def TV for full HD 1080p playback using an optional connector which will set you back $39.


Software

tie: iPad
iOS 4.2
tie: iPad 2
iOS 4.3

Crushing rumours of iOS 5, what Apple actually announced in tandem with the iPad 2 was iOS 4.3. The latest version of its software brings with it improved Safari performance along with Home Sharing so that you can get all your content over Wi-Fi, along with AirPlay improvements. The iPad 2 will also serve as a personal hotspot for the iPhone 4. What's more, the switch on the edge of the device than now be used either as a mute button or a rotation lock, depending on your preference. Nothing earth-shattering here, but there a certainly a few nice touches that inevitably make iOS 4.3 superior to its predecessor.

Battery

Tie: iPad
10 hours
Tie: iPad 2
10 hours


Apple's new tablet is sticking with the reasonably high standard set by the original model, by including exactly the same battery performance. The iPad 2's battery will offer 10 hours of use, along with a month on standby, just like its predecessor. Although performance is the same, we're guessing that the actual battery must be slightly superior to cope with the power needs of the new dual-core processor.

Extras

Winner: iPad 2
Smart Covers etc
Loser: iPad
Old-style cases etc


The iPad 2 has a few nifty features that you won't find on the original model, including the introduction of a three-axis gyroscope as found on the iPhone and iPod touch, which is sure to please the gamers out there. One of the other big changes that Apple was keen to shout about was the introduction of Smart Covers. Set to replace the more bulky covers offered to protect the original models, these covers offer minimal weight and thickness and are attached to the screen using tiny magnets. The covers also have a microfibre lining cleans the screen. The covers will be available in a range of colours in polyurethane ($39) or leather ($69).

Upping the ante offered by the original model, the iPad 2 also includes built-in FaceTime calling, thanks to the front-facing camera. Also new is built-in photo editing software Photo Booth along with iMovie for iPad. The latter will set you back $4.99 from the app store and enables video editing, multitrack recording and new video sharing options linked to sites including Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo.

Apple also announced GarageBand for iPad (also $4.99) which is compatible with the Mac version and offers touch instruments as well as the option to plug in a guitar or use the eight-track recorder. If you can't play guitar, the app also includes Smart Instruments that will pick out the chords for you and even strum the virtual strings so that you really don't need to do anything at all.

Price

Tie: iPad
Wi-Fi: £329/£399/£479, 3G: £429/£499/£579
Tie:iPad 2
Wi-Fi: £399/£479/£559, 3G: £499/£579/£659

The relatively high price of the first iPad obviously wasn't a barrier for true Apple fans, with the brand selling 15 million of the devices in 2010. Although we hoped that the new models might cost slightly less, Apple has maintained exactly the same pricing structure, which is relatively good value given the extra features that the new model offers. There has now been a subsequent price drop of the iPad 1 meaning it's now actually very good value for those who don't want all the bells and whistles. However it's while stocks last.


Conclusions

There's no doubting that the iPad looks like a nice piece of kit, but is it worth the upgrade? There are plenty of improvements, not least the new slimline, lightweight design, along with a newer, faster chipset and the inclusion of two cameras. The HDMI support and improved iOS are also compelling add-ons, although the screen size and resolution and memory capabilities remain the same as on the first-generation iPad. And so, too, does the price.

If you're absolutely dying to use your iPad for FaceTime calling or you can't wait to hook it up to an HDTV, then an upgrade is a must. However, if you're happy with what your current iPad can do, then you might be better off waiting for the iPad 3 which won't be too far away, if the blogosphere is to be believed. Having said that, we realise that any being teased with the updated model, there are many that won't be able to resist the allure of an updated version, even if the changes are relatively small.

What do you think of the new iPad? Will you be upgrading?



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