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The Apple iPad 2

Pros A great little device.  And it IS a computer.
Cons Price maybe, but you get what you pay for.
Recommended it? Yes
The Bottom Line:  I won't leave home without it.
Somewhere in that great abyss that separates Apple and Windows there has to be something so cool a PC user could put up with being locked into Apple’s very proprietary (expensive and limiting) system.

Apple has accomplished that with the iPad and iPad 2.

For those who don’t keep current on such things, the iPad is kind of but not exactly a computer.  It is a tablet device that has all of the functionality of a computer packed into a 1⁄3”  thin case with an almost 10” screen. 

The iPad 2 has has a dual core CPU and twice as much RAM as the 1st generation iPad, replacing 512 MB with 1024.

Apple has learned something after coming back from the brink of bankruptcy.  They are making programs - applications or apps for short.- written by hundreds of third parties available.  Apple must approve any third party apps so availability is naturally restricted, but there  impressive variety of programs (apps) available.

You could argue that Apple, the inventor of computers for people, has reinvented the computer as a mobile device.
 
Apple sells more than twice as many iPads as all other tablet makers combined, so they are doing something right.

 What’s it good for?

The iPad is basically for surfing the Internet, Email, reading magazines, newspapers, and books, looking at pictures and playing games, and other entertainment, which is how many people use their computer.

The iPad can play movies and even let you access online TV, live or stored. It can go 10 hours before the battery is completely discharged, making it perfect for travel.

Using the iPad is smooth as butter once you learn just what finger touches on the screen perform specific functions. Control becomes more intutive with use and I almost wonder if it is training me or I am training it!

Other tablets I’ve used seem clumsy by comparison. It seems like magic when the gyro turns the screen 90 – 360 degrees, i.e. from portrait to landscape, the screen smoothly moves too.

The iPad 2 includes both front and rear facing cameras for pictures or video capturing, or live video conversation with another Apple device. The pictures and video are not as good quality as you would expect with evern a $100 camera these days.  The speaker quality seems decent for such a small device.  The large screen quality is excellent.

My wife reports that the Solitaire game built in to the iPad plays better than the Windows game, and I consider her an expert.

We got the cheaper Wi-Fi model rather than the 3G. That means I can connect to the Internet anywhere I can connect to a Wi-Fi signal, such as my home, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Motel 6, etc. The 3G model ($130 more) gets online with the same kind of signal used by your cell phone, but costs $25 per month.

I probably should have paid up for the 3G.  You can turn it on by the month, so you could use it only when traveling.  It would be easy to get spoiled having constant contact with the world.

Is it a Computer?

The iPad is not a complete substitute for a full computer, for some people, for several reasons.

The iPad lacks a real keyboard, but the bottom of the LED screen turns into a touchpad when necessary, but you have to toggle between separate screens for alpha and numeric characters. I am doing typing this epinion on my iPad, it's just kinda slow.  A small external keyboard is available.

After I got back home I went on epinion to correct typos & update information.  It still feels so much more natural inputting data on my clunky desktop keyboard.

The small sereen size might be a problem with those with some visual imparement.

The iPad also lacks any USB connections, but a converter is available. The iPad also lacks the ability to print, but I have read software that allows printing on most printers (and all Apple systems) is available for less than $10.

IPad has apps for word processing and spreadsheets, but they are not nearly as slick as Windows Office.  Some users doing very basic stuff might find the apps simpler to use than Microsoft Office.

The iPad 2 is not cheap; after tax and a necessity or two, such as a case, you’re talking over $600 for the most basic model. Some competitors are pricing their tablets at half the price or less. Apple sets the selling price of the iPad; accessories and applications, and Apple is a very profitable company.

Apple's stiffest competition might come from the new Kindle Fire, at the $200 entry price point.  Of course Amazon is losing money, about $10, I have read, on every unit sold.  It might not be the Apple business model, but Amazon hopes to make that $10 back from books and subscriptions.   
Which are mostly available from Apple too.

And for sure there might be some - heck, there will be some new device coming out in 10 years that will make the iPad look as clunky as an old IBM mainframe (almost). 

But the iPad 2 is the coolest piece of electronics going as of 2012, and I have never talked to an owner who did not seem very happy with their iPad.


Conclusion

The iPad 2 is a great high quality (but expensive) way to keep up with your email and other Internet based activities, and for entertainment. I’ll never leave home without it, but I’m not giving up my Windows 7 system yet.

And to paraphrase the old Model-T Ford joke, the iPad 2 comes in any color you like, as long as it’s either black or white.

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