So, Did Tech-Lovers Get What They Wanted With Apple's iPad 2?

By Andrew Moseman | March 2, 2011 2:53 pm

Tech bloggers can relax those fingers and recover from endurance live-blogging: The iPad 2 has been revealed by the turtlenecked wonder himself, Steve Jobs. Now that the world has had a look at the next-gen tablet, do its improvements satisfy the wants of the computing masses?

No surprise, the specs are impressive. Apple’s iPad 2 is one-third skinnier and 0.2 pounds lighter than its predecessor. It boasts cameras on both the front and the back, and a video camera which can sync up with iPhones for video chat. It has a 1GHz dual core processor but maintains the 10-hour battery life of the original. The base price is the same, $499, and it goes on sale in the U.S. on March 11. And yes, the rumors are true: It’s coming out in white as well as black.

The toys aren’t bad, either. The new version of iPad’s operating system includes Photo Booth, the standby application for taking gratuitous photos of yourself and mutilating them in new and interesting ways. The app iMovie—which has long been on Apple laptops—is on iPad now, too, allowing users edit film on the tablet. And Jobs gleefully spent much of the presentation fiddling with the iPad version of Apple’s music creation program, Garage Band.

You can play a piano on the iPad, as well as a whole mess of other instruments. There’s a button for a sustain pedal, and the virtual keys are touch sensitive. Play a key softly, the sound is soft. Play it hard, and the sound changes. The iPad uses its accelerometer to measure the force with which the keys are struck. [The New York Times live blog]

The next question is, so what? The iPad 2 is a nifty device that got a little bit niftier, and while Apple fans and first adopters may splurge for the new version, the lead-up to iPad 2 included a lot of rumblings by those who adopted the first version and were left wondering what they paid so much money for. Slate’s write-up delved into the author’s rationale (and inspired a torrent of response from iPad lovers and haters).

I didn’t think about how it would fit in with the gadgets I already owned (laptop, Kindle, iPhone), and I didn’t borrow a friend’s and take it on a test drive. Now I just feel annoyed, having spent $600 on a device that hasn’t done anything to improve my life. A salad spinner would have been a better investment, and I don’t even eat that much salad. [Slate]

Ars Technica’s debate of pros and cons put forth many of the same cons: For all Jobs’ talk about iPad as a world-changing device, it isn’t the best at anything. E-readers are better for reading, laptops are better for working, and smartphones are more portable:

I can summarize this point by saying that a tablet doesn’t really empower or inspire me to make anything that I couldn’t make in an easier or better way with another tool; and when it comes to viewing, listening, reading, and surfing, I have better gear for those experiences, as well. So a new tablet will never be exciting the way that a new, luxury gel ink pen will be exciting, or a new leather journal, or a new HDTV, or a new digital camera, or a new game console, and so on. [Ars Technica]

Even Ben Kuchera at Ars, who argues the pros of tablets including their gaming chops, their mobility, and their content versatility (books plus comic books plus magazines and more), concludes on a disappointment: iPad could be so much more—and perhaps achieve those lofty rhetorical goals of creating the post-PC future—if it weren’t limited by “Apple’s arbitrary content and hardware restrictions.”

None of that has really changed with iPad 2. Make no mistake: It’s really cool. But if you found yourself among the “Why did I buy this?” or “Why do I need to pay for this?” crowd, there may be nothing about Apple’s second installment to change your mind.

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Image: Apple

  • SigmaX

    I’d never be reading this blog if I didn’t have an iPad.

    There are some things it’s better at. Reading scientific literature is the reason I bought it, but Pulse is what get used most.


  • oldtaku

    Nah. It’s just incremental. I see no reason here to upgrade my current iPad.

  • James Hrynyshyn

    It’s the iPhone all over again. Critics criticize while Apple laughs all the way to the bank.

  • Amos Zeeberg (Discover Web Editor)

    H8ers gotta h8!

  • Iain

    But really, why do you want it?

  • Roberto

    Why do people say that the hardware and software restrictions are arbitrary? I see them as very focused. They seem to be focused on providing a target level of performance for the user. Apple stuff seems very good at this.

    The limited-number of Android powered devices I’ve been exposed to are much more chaotic and uneven in their presentation of a product. Heck, the hardware guys get too choose what version of Android gets used. So my wife’s phone and mine do not work the same way. Not good. My MacBook Pro and my wife’s MacBook DO work the same way. Sure, there are performance differences but software response is very predictable, unlike the phones. And don’t get me started on Windows. How many different operating systems do they have now? I don’t even want to think about it.

    I don’t have an iPad. I don’t know what it would be used for at my house. Why do people WANT one? Why do people WANT anything? Apple has cracked that code, evidently, and are capitalizing on it big-time. Good for them. I wish I had that level of foresight.

  • Mr J

    I count the light weight and portability as prime assets when I’m on the road giving presentations, along with the working-day battery life.

    With the new camera, I’ll be able to use the screen real estate to set up carefully framed shots much like those Victorian photographers with their plate cameras.

    Oops, nearly forgot the sketch and paint apps. With a stylus, the iPad opens up new frontiers in that zone – ask the artist David Hockney, whose iPhone and iPad Paris exhibition ended a month ago.

    Here’s the link –

  • pheldespat


  • Brian Too

    Interesting to hear a bearish assessment from someone who isn’t a stand-off critic.

    I’d point out that that it’s not entirely necessary that a device be the best at any one of it’s capabilities. Multi-purpose devices can succeed if they are simply good enough at several. Also if the multi-purpose device can win some device consolidation for the customer, that can be a significant benefit that drives sales. In portable devices this is a non-trivial issue.

    Anyhow the iPad is a success as it stands. Whether it carves a permanent niche or becomes the next netbook/PDA/whatever, only time will tell.

  • Jason

    From what I gather the best an I-Pad has to offer is investment in future technologies. It may not be the best at any one thing but it is a new way of thinking about personal computing. I don’t see a need for myself to have one but I’m glad other people are buying them because it’s helping to push technology in new directions. Whether it’s a flop or a success, something is learned by putting it out there and letting people use it.

  • scott

    I know a lot of people who have one, and most do like it….but….they are on their laptops/actual computers/Iphones much more often…which says a lot. It’s still in the “fun toy” arena for the most part. I’ll wait for the next one.

  • nate zuckerman

    You get off on a new gel pen? wow. You sure are easy to please.


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