What can you do with an iPad 2? Lots!
Great screen, instant startup
You can spend a lot of money on accesories
The Bottom Line:
If you are in the market for a tablet device, the iPad 2 is still the one to get.
Back in August, my wife surprised me with a black 32GB iPad 2 for my birthday. I’d been hinting that I wanted one, but just couldn’t bring myself to buy one. She got me the model that is Wi-Fi only because I didn’t want to bother with the 3G stuff, especially for the added cost on something I’d hardly ever use.
Is my iPad 2 a suitable laptop replacement? In many ways, yes. In some ways, no. It’s perfect for getting online and checking email or surfing the web, plus it’s great to watch online videos from TV network websites and Netflix. I’m not entirely sold on the touchscreen interface for some types of games, but there are some really fun and useful apps available for this tablet. I don’t do a lot of typing on it, but if I did then I could get a wireless keyboard.
Every iPad, regardless of capacity, features a 9.7 inch (measured diagonally) screen that runs in a 1024x768 resolution. It is considered “multitouch” which means the touchscreen responds to multiple touch commands at the same time. You can control it with your fingertips or use a stylus, and an on-screen keyboard appears if you need to type something. At the highest setting, the screen is incredibly bright, but that will quickly drain the battery. Overall, the screen is as vibrant and clear as any laptop I’ve seen.
The new iOS has some really great features that expand on what you can do with the device before installing any additional apps. The Safari web browser is great, but still there is no Flash support and that affects how some online content is displayed, especially with gaming sites. The built-in camera software has some simple editing features like cropping, and the Facetime app lets you do video calls over a Wi-Fi network without the need for using a phone. This has front and rear cameras so it doubles as a video recorder or personal webcam, or both.
I don’t think the iPad makes a good eReader for books because the screen is too big. By comparison, the Nook and Kindle Fire only have seven inch screens. I had to keep playing with the brightness until I got the text to look normal, but it’s still not as sharp as a Kindle. It’s great for magazines and comic books, though. Comics look amazing on the screen, and the ability to zoom in on them is awesome. I am part of a D&D gaming group and we put some scans of our maps and info onto my iPad for reference and it’s so much better than having to keep pieces of paper spread around.
The variety of apps available for this thing are amazing. I like to play a lot of games on it, from puzzles and word games to 3D shooters that look pretty good. The FPS games take some getting used to while playing, but you can buy some screen attachments to give you an actual control to manipulate. There are some really nice music apps like drum machines and synthesizers and you can buy an adapter to connect a guitar and turn your iPad into a portable music studio. I also got a remote desktop app that lets me connect into my home PC in a way that essentially makes my iPad into a Windows emulator. Most apps are only 99 cents, but there are a ton of free ones. Some of the more premium stuff might cost more than that, but often they have free demos available.
Apple’s iTunes service is great for apps and music, but I think their prices are way too high on movies and TV shows. Sometimes you can buy a physical copy of the movie for the same price as the digital copy. The prices should be more heavily discounted, though sometimes you can find older movies on sale for $4.99, and that’s not such a bad deal. Digital videos look excellent on the screen, though the build-in speakers are pretty weak. You can always connect headphones or external speakers for better sound.
Since I use this sporadically, I haven’t done much to fully run the battery down from a full charge. I do regularly check online and play games with it, and only have to recharge it about once a week. A wall charger is included and it only takes about an hour or so to recharge. With some older computers, the USB ports won’t be able to recharge the battery.
Overall, I am quite pleased with my 32GB iPad 2. I love how it instantly turns on and lets me jump on the web or play a game without making me wait for anything to boot up. Although I still use my computer for work, I have found that I use my PC less often now that I can take advantage of the quick online access offered by this tablet. If you buy one, be sure to invest in a screen protector and case to protect it from damage.