Inside the E Wars: Apple's iPad 2

By William Stanek
February 28, 2011

william.jpg Last year I blogged quite a bit about Apple's iPad. I introduced iPad, explored it's features, and examined a networking problem iPad users were experiencing.

Though it was a tongue-in-cheek title of the blog exploring iPad's features, I didn't really H-a-t-e the iPad. Quite to the contrary, I really L-o-v-e-d the iPad, and that should have been clear from what was mostly praise. My iPad was a loaner, and with the iPad 2 coming, I am G-l-a-d that I borrowed the iPad 1 for reviewing rather than purchasing it. My main issue with the iPad 1 is cost, and that issue remains.

All iPad use flash drives. There are 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB models and two flavors: Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi + 3G. For iPad 1, the basic WiFi model with 16 GB costs $499 and has no expansion capability, and you need purchase at least the $629 basic WiFi + 3G model to have expansion capability. All WiFi + 3G models have a micro-SIM card slot that you can use to add a memory card and increase storage capacity.

The iPad 1 has a 9.7-inch LED-backlit widescreen touch display with 1024-by-768 pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch and supports a variety of video formats including MPEG-4, AVI, and MOV with H.264 video up to 720p at 30 frames per second. For audio, iPad 1 has a built-in mono speaker, a microphone, and a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack. The device can playback AAC, MP3, Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV audio formats. The device uses a lithium-polymer battery, which lasts up to 10 hours, and a 1 GHz A4 processor, which is competent, but not nearly as fast as I would have liked.

The iPad 2 will improve on all this by delivering a thinner, slightly lighter device, and by adding new features. The retina display, likely at 326 pixels per inch, will deliver significantly crisper images and video and a better contrast ratio for reduced glare on the 9.7-inch LED-backlit widescreen touch display, along with fingerprint-resistant coating. Support for 1080p and dual cameras comes from the new processor (likely front and back 5 megapixel cameras).

The 1.5 GHz processor offers a 50% improvement in clock speed. The GPU also should clock in faster, at about a 25% improvement. The iPad 1 has an accelerometer and ambient light sensor as well as assisted GPS in the WiFi + 3G model. The iPad 2 likely adds a three-axis gyro and a proximity sensor.

In terms of audio and video, iPad 2 should correct an oversight on the low end, for better support of spoken-word audio and news listening as well as additional support for enhanced audio formats from Audible. For video, iPad 2 should boost video on the high end to 1080p.

All in all, iPad 2 is a much better offering, and one likely that may give some of the 15 million iPad 1 users buyer's remorse.

Thanks for reading, time for me to get back to work! Hope you'll take a look at my book Windows 7: The Definitive Guide. Also out is my book Exchange Server 2010 Administrator's Pocket Consultant.

William R. Stanek
williamstanek at aol dot com
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