iPad 2 Review Roundup: A Comprehensive Look at the iPad 2

There’s only a day before Apple releases the iPad 2 with refreshed magical and revolutionary capabilities to the masses online and in local Apple stores. If you are looking solely at the numbers you might think that the iPad 2 is an upgrade you could skip, but once again it looks like Apple’s engineers have taken “2″ and “2″ into the back room and came back with a “10″, or at least a really solid 9.

iPad 2 Reviews:

The first iPad 2 reviews are in from a collection of sources which Apple has provided with an early iPad 2 and we’ve rounded up the best iPad 2 reviews and videos to see how the thinner, faster, lighter iPad 2 handles away from the bright lights of the announcement stage.

Hardware:

The hardware is the first place you will notice that you’re holding an iPad 2, instead of the original iPad. With a 33% thinner frame and a 15% lighter body the new unibody construction is something to behold. The iPad 2 reviews all go on and one about the look and feel of the device, but it should be noted that a few reviewers found it harder to plug in accessories to the thinner iPad 2. Not a dealbreaker, but a reminder that there is a limit to how thin our gadgets can get.

Laptop Mag Provides an iPad 2 Design Overview

Apple iPad 2 (Verizon Wireless)Laptop Magazine: “With its sturdy aluminum back, the tablet feels just as solid as before; there’s just less of it, which made the iPad 2 easier to hold during long gaming or reading sessions. The smoother, rounded lines also make the iPad 2 feel more natural in your hands.” Mark Spoonauer

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Appeal of iPad 2 is a Matter of EmotionsNY Times: “My friends, I’m telling you: just that much improvement in thinness, weight and speed transforms the experience. We’re not talking about a laptop or a TV, where you don’t notice its thickness while in use. This is a tablet. You are almost always holding it. Thin and light are unbelievably important for comfort and the overall delight. So are rounded edges, which the first iPad didn’t have.” – David Pogue

Engadget

iPad 2 ReviewEngadget: “In all, it’s an incredibly handsome and svelte package. Pictures don’t quite do the iPad 2 justice — it feels really, really great in your hands. Not only does the construction give it a feeling of heft and permanence, but the thin profile combined with the new, tapered edges make holding the device a real joy. Apple is known for its industrial design, and they didn’t just chew scenery here; the iPad 2 is beautifully and thoughtfully crafted.” Joshua Topolsky

TechCrunch Review — The iPad 2: Yeah, You’re Gonna Want One.TechCrunch: “Overall, the device has a much more fluid design. Apple notes that the body now consists of two parts instead of the three that made up the iPad 1. This makes it feel even more solid, and even more like a natural object instead of a machine.” MG Siegler

Review: The iPad 2 - Macworld: “The iPad 2 is easier to carry with one hand, and the decreased weight makes it easier to hold for longer periods of time. But if you’re planning on using the iPad 2 to read a lot, you’ll still find yourself propping it against your chest or setting it on a table—the tablet is still not light enough to hold in one hand for extended periods of time. (For that, you’ll need something more on the scale of the Amazon Kindle 3, which is less than half the weight of the iPad 2.)” Jason Snell

Performance and Speed:

Apple made a big deal about the new iPad processor which is able to deliver 2X the performance and 9X the graphical performance, but the question remained, “Would the iPad 2 feel fast after more than a quick controlled demo?” Well, the answer appears to be yes. Reviewers note the speed of the iPad 2 from browsing to intensive apps and also call the device snappy after longer use. Here are a few reviews which focus in on the speed and performance of the iPad 2. If you want the geeky numbers, head over to SlashGear.

iPad 2 ReviewSlashGear: “Pages load faster, render quicker, and scroll more smoothly. There’s less time spent looking at the checkered pattern of a blank page, waiting for the content to show up, and pinch-zooming is resolved quicker too. Meanwhile, thanks to the extra RAM, we experienced fewer out-of-memory errors and crashes in both the standard browser and third-party apps. Where the original iPad could sometimes get overloaded by a particularly heavy webpage, throwing you back to the homescreen, we were able to open multiple tabs and still have no issues with the iPad 2 keeping up.” Vincent Nguyen

The iPad 2Daring Fireball: “In practice, the iPad 2 feels like the fastest iOS device I’ve ever used — faster in every way than the iPhone 4. It doesn’t make my iPhone 4 feel slow, per se, but it does feel faster. Doing various side-by-side comparisons with an iPad 1, I noticed all sorts of places where the iPad 1 lagged. Apps that were launched slowly. Buttons that were pressed that didn’t take effect immediately. Every little thing on the iPad 2 feels more responsive. The Photos app is one example. With the same photo library on both iPads (consisting of several thousand images), it takes about two or three seconds for the iPad Photos app to be ready for use after a cold launch on my iPad 1. On the iPad 2, it’s ready almost instantly. This repeats itself throughout the system: apps launch faster, sometimes way faster, and every little thing within each app feels faster.” John Gruber

Sound and Speakers:

Pull back the cover on the iPad 2The Daily: “A point of contention about the original iPad was its relatively weak external speaker. In hopes of addressing this problem for the iPad 2, Apple engineers placed the speaker on the back side of the device. Placing both versions of the iPad on a flat surface, I measured their respective sound performance using the Decibel Ultra app and streaming the same track through MOG. To my surprise each device averaged 105 decibels with a peak output of 112, yet for some reason the iPad 2’s speaker inexplicably sounded louder, crisper and cleaner.” Peter Ha

Battery Life:

The battery life of the iPad 2 is claimed to be the same as the original iPad thanks to a larger battery. While the battery life remains impressive it looks like it may fall short of the iPad in some use cases.

iPad 2: Thin, Not Picture PerfectAll Things D: “Also, the battery life, while very good, isn’t as strong as I found it to be on the first iPad. In my tough battery test, where I played full-length movies until the battery died, with the screen brightness at about 75% and both Wi-Fi and cellular radios running, the iPad 2 just barely exceeded Apple’s claimed battery life, dying after 10 hours and nine minutes. That’s 2.5 hours better than the Xoom did on the same test, but more than an hour less than I got from the original iPad, which clocked in at 11 hours, 28 minutes.” – Walter S. Mossberg

Camera:

iPad 2 is even better than the originalUSA Today: “You won’t confuse the cameras on the iPad 2 for a top-notch Canon or Nikon. Indoor pictures I snapped in low light were grainy. There is no flash. Still, the VGA-quality front-facing camera or the HD (up to 720p) rear camera are just fine for FaceTime — you can tap a screen button to change views. You can hold video chats with other iPad 2 owners or those with an iPhone 4, iPod Touch or Mac.” Edward C. Baig

Accessories:

The accessories rolling out alongside the iPad 2 are also a big deal, with plenty of buzz around the new SmartCover which attaches to the iPad 2 with magnets and the HDMI adapter which allows you to output HD video and apps to your big screen.

SmartCover:

SmartCover review from Macworld

IPad 2’s Tweaks Mean Apple Laps Tablet FieldBloomberg Businessweek: “It’s also worth noting that the iPad 2’s new, tapered case makes it harder to hook up its docking and other cables, including the one that now connects it to a high-definition port on your big-screen TV. And pay attention if you spend the extra $39 or $69 for Apple’s new “smart cover,” which attaches to the iPad magnetically and automatically puts it to sleep when closed. Tossing the iPad into my computer bag, or even onto the seat of my car, jostled the cover enough to wake it back up by accident.” Rich Jaroslovsky

HDMI Adapter:

iPad 2 HDMI Adapter ReviewLaptop Magazine: “A 720p HD episode of Fringe purchased from iTunes looked crisp on our set. However, the 720p footage we recorded with the iPad 2 looked fuzzy, which just reminded us of the camera’s mediocrity.”

iPad 2 or Motorola Xoom (HoneyComb 3.0)

Apple iPad 2 (WiFI + 3G) – PC World: “Currently, the Motorola Xoom shows tremendous promise and even edges past the iPad in a few areas (cameras and multitasking to name a couple). But even without the advantage of far more apps, the iPad 2 simply provides a better user experience and operates more gracefully and seamlessly with your media than Android devices.” Tim Gideon

Final Thoughts on the iPad 2

The iPad 2 will be here shortly and you can walk in and pick one up for yourself to see if it is the right tablet for you. While you wait, check out our iPad 2 overview page and our guide for helping you figure out which iPad 2 model you should buy.

With that said, here are the parting words from severla reviews summing up the iPad 2 in just a sentence:

  • “the iPad 2 isn’t just the best tablet on the market, it feels like the only tablet on the market.” – Joshua Topolsky
  • “As of now, I can comfortably recommend it as the best tablet for average consumers.” – Walt Mossberg
  • “The iPad 2 doesn’t deliver everything on your tablet wish list. But when it comes to the ever-evolving state of the art, iPad 2 is second to none.” – Edward C. Baig
  • “Like last year’s iPhone 4, it seems like technology from the near future.” – John Gruber
  • “Apple has put together a superbly capable, class-shaping tablet, which can now legitimately take on not only other slates but lighter ereaders such as Amazon’s Kindle.” – Vincent Nguyen
  • “the iPad 2 is a triumph, an iPad that’s even more iPad than the original.” – Jason Snell

So. Are you getting an iPad 2?

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