So it's been a little bit over 3 weeks since I got my hands on an iPad 2 on launch night! I've been using it almost everyday since then, even replacing my iMac as my normal web browsing machine. I'm even doing some of my own writing on Pages for iPad, instead of using MS Word. And it has a lot of really fun stuff on it too!! I can now see why Steve Jobs thinks that everyone will want an iPad even better than before. I'm glad that I waited for the second generation to make a purchase, but I really wish that I had one for the last year too! So here is my first review of the iPad 2!
First, it is so much thinner than the original iPad! I know many people that have not seen one yet are probably thinking, "It can't be that much thinner?" Well it is, Apple says it's a third thinner, and I believe them. The iPad 2 seems a lot easier to hold than the original, and feels really great in my hand. I like the heft, some people might not, but it's just about right for me. The only thing that is a little tiring is when I'm laying in bed, and holding the iPad up. This might be a problem for some people that like to read in bed, but it is a lot less noticeable if you read in bed propped up! The weight is a few tenths of an ounce lighter, but I really haven't noticed it. I think it might be that I have the Wi-Fi plus 3G model, which weighs more. Most of the demo units I've held in stores were the Wi-Fi only models of the first iPad, which I think weighs about the same as mine. I also happen to have the white bezel, and 3G on Verizon, I'll talk more about those aspects latter.
The very first thing I did when I got my iPad 2 home was to sync it with my iMac! I was surprised at how fast it went, I think the whole thing took between 5-10 minutes That was less time than to do the first back up and sync with my iPhone 3G!! Everything for the setup very easy, and all my selections synced like I excepted them to. Even though I have added lots of stuff to my iPad in the last 3 weeks, the back up still is very quick! Maybe it's the new A5 processor chip, and maybe it's just that my 3G is that slow? What ever the case is, I hope it translates to upgrades too. I have set by while my iPhone takes around an hour to go through an update. Even worse was when I had to leave my iPhone hooked up to my Mac over night to install iOS 4.0!! I hope to never have to do that again, so iPad 2 had better not let me down!
The first apps that I had gotten for my eventual iPad were downloaded a couple days before the original hit the shelves last April. I knew that I was probable getting the iPad 2 on launch day, so a few days before I purchased Pages for iPad from the iTunes store. I have been thinking about making the switch from MS Office to iWorks for some time now. I thought that this could be a great way to evaluate Apple's word processing program. I also like the fact that they are sold A la cart from the other two programs that make up iWorks. I will probable use Keynote some, but don't think I will have much need for numbers. I've had MS Office for 3 years now, and have never used Excel once! But I do play around with Power Point from time to time, and can see where I might have a serious need for Keynote sometimes. I've watched videos about Keynote, and think I'd like it's interface, preset templates, and extras options a little better than Power Point. Keynote for iPad will probably be my next big purchase from the app store.
Many of the universal apps I've been using on my iPhone have taken on a new life in their iPad incarnations. Words With Friends is a much nicer interface on the iPad. I now feel like I'm looking at a game board, instead of a tiny mobile phone screen. I also like the bigger screen real-estate for tChess Pro. It's gives me more of a feeling like playing on a real chess board. I feel like this app has made me a better player of the game, and I hope to continue my improvement on the iPad! Another universal app that I love on my iPad is Epic Fail. My best friend Kyle & I love talk on our iPhones, while discussing the crazy pictures on Epic Fail. My family used to own a towing company, and just last night I found a picture of a dump truck that had gotten stuck under a highway overpass. It reminded me of a railroad bridge over a particular road here in Springfield that truckers get stuck under several times a year. And the Weather Channel App has a completely different interface in the iPad only version, and is one of the coolest weather apps I've seen so far! I rely on it for my weather everyday now.
I'm even liking several of the iPhone only apps that I'm using in the 2x "Pixel Doubled" mode. Yahoo Instant Messenger keeps me in touch with my best friend Kyle, even when I didn't have data service with AT&T for a couple days this last week. Thank you Verizon!! Everything seems quick, snappy, and crisper than on my iPhone 3G. Also seems just a little faster than the demo units of the iPad 1. I do agree with a few tech gurus like Leo Laporte & Adam Christensen, that I'm not sure we are seeing the iPad 2's full potential with current apps. Now iMovie & Garage Band for iPad probably take use of many of the iPad's newer features in horsepower, but not much else will put it through it's paces right now. Maybe there were a few inside developers that got some early specs like last time, but I bet that most of the apps in the iTunes Store on launch day are not optimized for iPad 2's new speed/power improvements, or iOS 4.3. I look forward to seeing what comes out to really put the pedal to the metal on iPad!!
I've been using my iPad with my Apple Bluetooth Keyboard some, and find them a great combination! I had bought the extra keyboard for my iMac, and had used it some with the home bound Mac. I was so excited to hear that iOS 4 would allow the use of Bluetooth Keyboards with our iDevices, sadly my iPhone 3G doesn't get to come to this party. I like the keyboard a lot, and only went back to my wired keyboard because I started needing to use the side number pad a lot. It drives me crazy to have to use the number keys at the top of a keyboard if I have to enter very many numbers in a field/document. I kept it around for when I wanted the wireless range, so that I wouldn't have to always be "tethered" to my computer. So I had it all planed to use my Bluetooth Keyboard with the iPad when I got it. Not that I'm really complaining to Apple, take it as a helpful suggestion, why are we not allowed to pair the Bluetooth Keyboard to our iPad, and computers at the same time?? I think many things like headphones, speakerphones, and cordless phones can be paired with more than one thing. Some are limited to two devices paired at once, but that's still more than one! I'd love to be able to pair this keyboard to my iPad & iMac, so I don't have to forget & re-pair just to switch to the other machine. Maybe it's a limitation to the keyboard only being able to be paired to one device, where as the device (iPad & iMac) can have multiple Bluetooth items paired with it?
Another hardware item that I bought along with the iPad was the Camera Connection Kit, as I plan to use the iPad largely as a tool in my burgeoning photography business. I did a photo shoot for a local community services group yesterday, where I got to give the Camera Connection Kit some real world use. I took 3 different groups of pictures on my Canon Digital Rebel XSi 12 MP D-SLR. After each group, I uploaded the photos to my iPad using the connection kit's SD Card Reader dongle. I found that the process was simple as can be, and very fast given the files I was uploading through it. Each time I uploaded between 100-200 pictures, all large fine quality JPEGs at 4272 x 2848, & 2-4 MB a piece. Each of these uploads took less than 5 minutes, and really impressed me! I had what I thought was very similar results to uploading similar pictures to my iMac. I uploaded a total number of over 400 pictures during the shoot. I would have taken more on my digital camera, but I also have a passion for old cameras too! Half the time I was also shooting with a Canon T-90 Film SLR, which I shot 3 rolls of B&W & 1roll of color 35mm film.
I doubt that I will use the USB dongle for hooking up my camera directly to the iPad, but I might use it in other interesting ways. I hear that there are lots of other things that can be attached to the iPad through the USB dongle, like headsets. I tried to hook up my Logitech headset, but I couldn't get sound to come through, or the mic to work. I could however use the volume controls on the headset to turn the iPad's sound up & down. If anyone knows of a low to medium priced headset that does work through the Camera Connection Kit, please let me know, I'd like to test this function out further. I also have heard that many microphones work in this manner as well. One that I have looked at for a long time is the Yeti USB Mic from Blue Microphones. I have wanted to produce my own Podcast for a while now, but haven't been able to figure out exactly what I wanted to do it about. As part of that, I've looked at buying the Yeti to have a very high quality microphone, but one that wont break the bank at the same time. I was pleased to see several videos showing that the Yeti could be hooked up to the iPad via the Camera Connection Kit. This is really going to open up the possibility of doing remote on location audio recording! That's something I was wondering how in the world I would be able to do, and would I have to buy very much extra equipment to be able to do so? Now I'm pretty for sure I'll be able to this with my iPad, and the cost of a good microphone!!
I bought Garage Band for iPad, and really like it a lot1 The smart instruments are great, and I like the recording function. I planed on using this to record audio interviews, but it seems like I can only record 8 seconds of instruments & voice?? Am I just missing something here, or can I only record 8 seconds at a time? Let me know if this is incorrect, or if there is a way to change this for voice audio recording. If I can't get around this, does anyone know a good app for recording good high quality audio, with out a time limit.
I am loving FaceTime on my iPad!! I've been using FaceTime for Mac several months now to keep in touch with my friend Kyle. He lives about 2 hours away from me, and we can talk to each other through FaceTime, and it feels like we're in the same place. I think lots of people that travel, friends/loved ones separated, for small meetings is something that is great that Apple has done in iOS. Yes there is Skype, Yahoo IM, and other services like that, but they all require setting up accounts. You have to add them to your list by sending invites, the invite being accepted, and so on. FaceTIme "Just Works" as Steve Jobs likes to say. You have their cell number/email address in your address book, just click on that entry in FaceTime, and the next thing you know they're on the screen! I do agree that the cameras on the iPad 2 are not great for photos. They are good for FaceTime, and good for shooting quick videos.
So now that I've spent forever telling you how much I like my iPad, let me tell you which iPad I got. I had spent the last year since the announcement of the first iPad wondering which model I would actually buy. I had wanted to get the creme de la creme, being the 64 GB Wi-Fi + 3G. But I didn't know about the $829.99 price tag on it. So I had figured that I would just get the 16 GB Wi-FI only, possible the 32, or 64 GB, but still only Wi-Fi. If I did get a 3G version, it would be the 16 GB only! As it got closer to the first of the year, I had decided to use my tax return to get an iPad. So I was really seriously thinking of the 32 or 64 GB Wi-Fi only, or the 16 GB Wi-FI + 3G. I still had that "Holy Grail" iPad in the back of my head, but didn't want to spend that much money. My mom was going to pick up the iPad 2 for me, since I was working during the release. I had decided the day before that I would go "Nuclear" and get the 64 GB Wi-Fi + 3G, on AT&T, in Black. Mom went to the Walmart that she works at, but all that they had were the Wi-Fi only models, and only got 7 total iPad 2's. She then went to 2 AT&T stores, and one Verizon stores, none of which got any iPad 2's on launch day. She went to Best Buy, but I had no hope of getting an iPad 2 that Friday. She had to stand in line for a little over 2 hours, the line had started around 2:oo pm that afternoon. She asked for the iPad I had told her I wanted, but all the AT&T 3G models were already gone. I had told her to get what ever she could, as long as it was 64 GB, and 3G. What she did end up getting was the 64 GB Wi-Fi + 3G on Verizon, and in White. I was skittish at first about getting white, I thought it would show dirt & smudges very badly. But I have found that not to be the case so far. I think the white coloring for the bezel is either under the glass, or part of it. Does anyone know if that's the case? I had my mom bring it to me at work, yes she's an awesome mom, and I was blown away by it! I actually really do like the white iPad!
In the coming months I will write more as I try out new things with my iPad. In addition to using my iPad 2 for my photography, it has been such a huge part of my personal computing since it first hit my hands. If you have an iPad, 1 or 2, let me know what you think of it. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them, and would be appreciative!! If there is something you don't like about the iPads, or if you use another tablet, I'd really like to hear from you! I'm particularly looking for people that use the Amazon Kindle, Motorola Xoom, or anyone that has knowledge of the Blackberry Play Book. I'm really interested in why people like the Kindle better than the iPad as an eBook reader, and about the Xoom & Play Book that may be the only 2 really competitive tablets on the market with the iPad this year. Microsoft says they wont enter the Tablet market until 2012, and there is supposed to be a HP Tablet possible this year, or next. If you know about them, and it wont get you in trouble with Microsoft or HP, let me know!
Thanks for suffering through the long post! lol Keep Macing everyone!!
(All text in this post was written on my iPad 2! Editing, formatting, and photos were added on my iMac.)