iPad 2 review

CHENNAI, 07/05/2011: Apple iPad2 Tablet. Photo: S_S_Kumar   -  THE HINDU

CHENNAI, 07/05/2011: Apple iPad2 Tablet. Photo: S_S_Kumar   -  THE HINDU

CHENNAI, 07/05/2011: Apple iPad2 Tablet. Photo: S_S_Kumar   -  THE HINDU

CHENNAI, 07/05/2011: Apple iPad2 Tablet. Photo: S_S_Kumar   -  THE HINDU

CHENNAI, 07/05/2011: Apple iPad2 Tablet. Photo: S_S_Kumar   -  THE HINDU

The iPad was the firestarter that spurted the rage of tablets in the consumer electronics market last year. In twelve months, the market has been flooded with tablets with almost every consumer electronics company realising that this category is pretty much going to rule the roost for at least a few years to come. So how well is the trailblazer, Apple Inc., going to outdo itself and its gazillion peers with the newly launched iPad 2?

When the covers slid off the iPad last year, its sleek aluminium design drew a lot of ooohs and aaahs from the onlookers. With the iPad 2 too, the first thing that strikes you about the new avatar is the svelte form factor. Despite the size being the same, the iPad 2 looks like a pretty young starlet who's just got rid of all her baby fat – in one word, stunning.

Peeling off the pretty pink Smart Cover, we wake up the iPad 2. The 9.7-inch glossy screen looks pretty much the same although the bezel now comes in white too. There's barely any difference in the display quality, which is still good news, considering the one on the previous iPad was nothing short of gorgeous.

The iPad 2 has the usual cluster of in-built apps however, the multi-touch capablities have been put to use in Photo Booth where you can magnify the photo effects . Now with two cameras to choose from, you can quickly switch from one to another by tapping on a single icon.

The results, however, fell far short of our expectations . The images captured from the rear camera was extremely grainy even when we shot a couple of portraits indoors, under sufficient light. The inability to give us crisp pictures and great videos is a total downer considering the amazing display capabilities of the iPad 2. The front camera supports FaceTime.

We read the Iron Man 2.0 Saga on Marvel Comics and the iPad 2 still makes for an excellent device to be reading graphic novels and e-books on.

GarageBand and iMovie have been remade from scratch just to make the most of the full-sized touch display. In the iPad-version of GarageBand, you have a handful of ‘Smart' instruments apart from the regular ones. Within each Smart instrument, you have the option of playing different styles, for e.g., Acoustic, Hard Rock, Classic Clean (Smart Guitar), Grand Piano, Electric Piano (Smart Keyboard), Hip Hop Drum Machine, Vintage Kit, Classic Studio Kit etc (Smart Drums). These options (we couldn't list all of them here) give you endless permutations and combinations to come up with your own track.

Smart Drums probably has the best interface of the lot with a four-axis space on which you can drag-and-drop instruments – kick, snares, hi-hats, cymbals, shakers etc – and leave it up to the app to produce beats for you. It can't get any easier than this! The new iMovie app too makes the most of the iPad 2's touch interface with its Multi-Touch Precision Editor. You can pinch, drag and touch to edit your video or add audio tracks (support for four) and add a nice finishing touch with theme-based titles, transitions and soundtracks. Both the iPad-optimised apps (which cost you about $4.99 each) were amazingly intuitive.

We tried out the iPad 2 along side its predecessor –some apps that we tried out simultaneously, loaded in a jiffy in the iPad 2 almost making it look like the older one was struggling to catch up.

Apps on the iPad 2 launch faster, there are barely any lags or stutters, webpages load like they're on an adrenaline rush and all of this is to be attributed to the proprietary A5 system-on-a-chip.

Apple claims that gameplay on the iPad 2 is much faster and smoother owing to a huge boost in the graphics quality (up to nine times better). Well, there was no way to gauge the numbers but graphics rendering on the latest iPad is pretty impressive. We played Dead Space, Dungeon 2 HD and Asphalt 6 and the graphics were rendered really well. The gaming experience has also become slightly more accurate with the inclusion of a gyro-sensor (the older iPad only had an accelerometer).

A couple of apps still don't fit the big screen and give you a slightly pixelated interface on the 2x mode.

The iPad 2 supports video-mirroring, which means you can hook it up to a display and stream videos, share photos or project presentations using AirPlay and an Apple Digital AV/VGA Adapter.

The battery life on the iPad 2 stayed true to the company's claim of being close to 10 hours.

Our verdict

When it comes to an Apple product it always seems like the sum of parts is always greater than the whole. The iPad 2 might not live up to some of the tech specs of its rivals, but when it comes to the design and interface, the overall experience of having used an iPad still remains quite unmatched.

Love: Excellent display, great battery life, simplistic yet attractive design

Hate: Poor cameras, still no Flash support

Rs 29,500 onwards

Published on May 11, 2011

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