We’ve been strangely quiet on Carrypad over the last two weeks. First of all there was CeBIT where we focused heavily on netbooks and pro-mobile products over at UMPCPortal and then the iPad2 hit the streets. We had some discussions internally about whether to buy one for our review but it was clear to us that there would be a hundred or more reviews out in the first week so we’ve held back and enjoyed the show.
Availability of the iPad2 turned out to be tighter than expected. Surprise surprise! Online orders were only permitted on launch day and the lead-time for delivery has been stretching out beyond two weeks. Early adopters hate having to wait; Bloggers, journalists, software developers and competitors can’t wait so with supplies of entry level models limited in the stores, it was no surprise that buyers queued and some people, possibly one-in-ten, have spent more than they had planned.
I’m not surprised that such a small change on the product had such a huge impact on the media and generated so much buzz either. Everyone knows that the iPad 2 is ‘just-enough’ to keep it in the lead for 2011 but the media scramble was necessary for SEO purposes. iPad and Apple keywords are extremely valuable so if you’re taking part in the race you have no choice but to scramble. One site I read regularly, GottaBeMobile, appears to have turned into Gotta-Be-Ipad recently as it put out an over-the-top 90+ articles tagged ipad2 in two weeks! The guys there truly do have a love for tablets and mobile products but really, 90+ articles? At Carrypad we had the other extreme and yes, for our business will make sure we get some work done on it soon.
Again, there really isn’t much difference between the iPad 1 and iPad 2. In reality, you’ll probably notice a little bit more speed, a slightly faster web experience and a smoother gaming experience but I didn’t hear anyone moan about that on the original iPad. The camera will give you Facetime and 720p video recording capability but I’m sure that’s not such a big deal for most people. 1/3rd of the weight is lost and that’s immediately noticeable but it doesn’t reach the magical 1lb figure that is needed to finally make the iPad comfortable long-duration reading device. Once again, the iPad requires a PC to get it going. Once again you have to buy a connector pack to read an SD card or output TV signals. This isn’t evolution; It’s just an update.
I have a lot of respect for the iOS products. All of them contain excellent engineering and extremely high quality software standards and I’m going to be excited when I finally get to review the iPad2 but there still isn’t enough here to pull me away from the Android ecosystem. I love the way that Android partners embrace a flexible ecosystem of user interfaces, connectivity, design and price-levels and I love the way Google just syncs me up with everything I do in their ecosystem. From maps to contacts and mail. Sharing, I believe, is also second to none on Android.
I agree that performance is sometimes worth paying for and the iPad 2 delivers one of the fastest experiences there is. It’s likely to stay that way for most of 2011. The combination of IOS4.3 and the dual-core CPU brings the performance closely in line with netbook-level performance. Web-page load times are well below the pain barrier (after 10 seconds I start to feel the pain, you?) and I suspect application load-times have dropped too. We’re getting within one or two generations of hard and software where a laptop form-factor could be supported for a true productivity system and ISVs will see that and invest more time and money into even better software.
There’s one other thing that has me interested in the iPad2 and I do plan to test it. iMovie. I watched Vincent Nyugen demo the import and titling of an MJPEG 720p movie and was amazed at the speed the video was created and processed. Further investigation reveals that there are limitations (e.g you can’t separate an audio track from a video to provide a cutaway like you can in even XP’s Movie Maker) and processing a basic clip with a title appears to take 1:1 in time-ratio. The HD encoder hardware on the iPad is clearly helping although if the whole clip included overlay, lots of transitions and extra audio, that would probably take a lot longer. There’s also the problem of finding a compatible camera to use with the camera connectivity kit. Ideally the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 would be used together and, I’ll be honest, it really isn’t a bad combination; The first that really brings simple video creation and editing to ARM-based products.
The iPad2 look’s good, performs well, has a great battery life/performance/weight ratio, is keenly priced and is a desirable product for most but last weeks media coverage was just over the top.