Apple iPad 2

The Good
  • Fantastic design & improved ergonomics
  • Good battery life
  • Facetime chat
  • Smudge resistant screen
  • Widest availability of apps
The Bad
  • No “Retina” Display
  • HDMI, USB, SD ports require expensive adapters
  • No support for Flash
  • No standard USB connection
The Verdict
★★★★☆

Even with the release of the new iPad, the iPad 2 remains the top tablet in South Africa to-date (read full reasoning here).

R6,199.00
Buy Now

iPad 2 [Review]

Update: Check out our new iPad 3 review

Just under one year ago, Apple shocked the computing world with the updated release of its original iPad – the iPad 2 was thinner, faster, and came with additional 3G connectivity. The iPad 2 wasn’t just a successful tablet in 2011 – it quickly turned into the benchmark for any tablet computer.

Has the iPad 2 finally met its match with the release of the iPad 3? Find out below.

Design & Features

The iPad 2 remains one of the thinnest tablets on the market at just 8.33 mm and still sets the bar when it comes to sexy design and elegant finishes.

Many competitors have adopted similar design approaches (most notably the Samsung Galaxy Tab) and the black bezel framing a high gloss, scratch resistant touchscreen have almost become industry standard. However in true Apple fashion, the iPad 2 combines the various elements just a little better, a little more elegantly and what you’re left with is a device that is truly a pleasure to view and handle.

The back of the iPad 2 is made from a single slab of brushed aluminium with the minimalistic Apple-logo displayed prominently in the middle. The sleep/wake buttons and headphone jack are placed alongside the tp edge of the bezel, with the volume control and the mute/rotation lock switch on the right edge. The bottom of the iPad 2 contains the universal dock cnnection and the internal speaker, which now wraps around the back, giving it more surface area and noticeably better sound quality.

Whilst initially a major update to the iPad, the rear-facing and front-facing cameras on the iPad 2 are a handy addition, but not that useful for any real photography or for high-def video chats. Particularly the rear-facing 0.7 mega pixel camera seems slightly sub-par when competitors have released up to 8 mega pixel cameras with superior auto focus and far better low-light performance. But then again, who really uses a tablet to take pictures?

What is unfortunate though is that the video capabilities of the iPad 2 are also nothing to write home about. The rear-facing camera records video at 960×720 but, in our tests, looked grainy, washed out, and almost unusable.

The sound on the iPad 2 is still the best that we’ve tested so far.

Whilst the lack of additional ports along the side of the tablet ensures a smooth, minimalist design, it does mean that the iPad 2 is fairly limited in terms of connectivity to other media devices or storage expansion. This is not an issue if you already own a couple of Apple products, but if you plan on using your iPad 2 with devices from other manufacturers, you will quickly find out how restrictive the iOS environment is. There are adapters for most issues – such as HDMI – but these have to be purchased separately.

Hardware

The iPad 2 comes with Apple’s custom 1GHz dual-core A5X chip. Interestingly whilst the garphic processing has been upped with the release of the new iPad, the latest version uses the same A5 processor as the iPad 2. Even though dual-core processors might seem dated in light of the first quad-core tablets hitting South Africa, the iPad 2 still delivers great results in terms of speed and responsiveness.

Also, with the A5X dual-core, the batter on an iPad 2 can last up to 10hrs, which we found extremely useful for long commutes or extended travels.

Software

The iPad 2 runs on the latest iOS 4.3 and the interface will be immediately familiar if you’ve ever owned an iPad Touch or an iPhone. The tablet comes pre-loaded with many Apple-designed apps for Web browsing, e-mail, maps, photos, music, video, and YouTube. Additional apps can be installed either direclt from the built in App Store or via iTunes. Of course any apps that you might already own on iPhone or iPod are easily transferable to the iPad 2.

Additonal software updates that came with the iPad 2 are FaceTime video chat and imprved JavaScript rendering for the Safari Web browser. Much like any other Apple product, the iPad 2 doesn’t support Flash, which will make a significant amount of online content inaccessbile on the iPad or render webistes without pieces of graphic content.

Display

The display is the one area where the release of the iPad 3 has catapulted the benchmark to the next level. Whilst the iPad 2 does offer an excellent display at a resolution of 768×1024 px, the new “retina” display of the iPad 3 doubles the pixel density to a staggering 1563×2048.

But apart from the new iPad’s retina display, the iPad 2’s screen still provides excellent results when compared to other competitors. The IPS panel technology still ensures outstanding viewing angles from almost any direction and the touch sensitivity is responsive and smooth. Whilst the colours aren’t as vibrant as in the Samsung Galaxy Tab, they are nevertheless crisp and gorgeous to look at.

Conclusion

The iPad 2 remains the tablet to beat in South Africa – even more so with the recent price cut. If you own any other Apple device or plan on purchasing additional Apple products then you can’t go wrong with the iPad 2. Luckily the Asus Transformer Prime does offer an excellent alternative if you’re not a converted Apple evangelist. But even though the Transformer Prime looks significantly better on paper, the Apple iPad 2 is unbeaten in simple versatility (via it’s massive app support) and ease of use.

The main question will be whether or not you should upgrade to the new iPad instead of purchasing the iPad 2. With South Africa unlikely to receive 4G support in the near future, the only major benefit of the new iPad is its eye-popping display. Whether this warrants the additional R 3000 is best left for you to decide – but even if you decide to go for the iPad 2 you can be confident that you’re investing in a quality tablet that will continue to be the benchmark against which current tablet releases will be measured.

The Good
  • Fantastic design & improved ergonomics
  • Good battery life
  • Facetime chat
  • Smudge resistant screen
  • Widest availability of apps
The Bad
  • No “Retina” Display
  • HDMI, USB, SD ports require expensive adapters
  • No support for Flash
  • No standard USB connection
The Verdict
★★★★☆

Even with the release of the new iPad, the iPad 2 remains the top tablet in South Africa to-date.

R6,199.00
Buy Now

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