Apple iPad 2: the reviews are in

What do the experts think of Apple's 'faster, thinner and lighter' iPad 2 tablet?

John Gruber, Daring Fireball:

Likes: "In practice, the iPad 2 feels like the fastest iOS device I've ever used — faster in every way than the iPhone 4. It doesn't make my iPhone 4 feel slow, per se, but it does feel faster. Doing various side-by-side comparisons with an iPad 1, I noticed all sorts of places where the iPad 1 lagged. Apps that were launched slowly. Buttons that were pressed that didn't take effect immediately. Every little thing on the iPad 2 feels more responsive. The Photos app is one example. With the same photo library on both iPads (consisting of several thousand images), it takes about two or three seconds for the iPad Photos app to be ready for use after a cold launch on my iPad 1. On the iPad 2, it's ready almost instantly. This repeats itself throughout the system: apps launch faster, sometimes way faster, and every little thing within each app feels faster."

Dislikes: "Every once in a while, Apple releases something brand-new. The original iPod. The 2007 iPhone. Last year's iPad. These original releases tend to be minimal technically, but radical conceptually. Then, generally on an annual schedule, Apple improves them iteratively and steadily over time. This is exactly what they’ve done with the iPad 2. It is a refinement of the original iPad — an impressive one, in several ways, considering that it arrives just 11 months after the original. But it is in no way a radical or significant departure from last year's model. The fact is, Apple got it right with the iPad 1 in almost every way, and the iPad 2 reflects that. If you didn't like the original iPad, you're not going to like the iPad 2. If you liked the original iPad, you're going to like the iPad 2 even better."

Joshua Topolsky, Engadget:

Likes: "It might frustrate the competition to hear this, but it needs to be said: the iPad 2 isn't just the best tablet on the market, it feels like the only tablet on the market. As much as we'd like to say that something like the Xoom has threatened Apple's presence in this space, it's difficult (if not impossible) to do that. For those of you who haven't yet made the leap, feel free to take a deep breath and dive in — the iPad 2 is as good as it gets right now. And it's really quite good."

Dislikes: "Let's just put this out there: the iPad 2 cameras are really pretty bad. They're not unusable, but it's clear that the sensors employed are not top shelf by any measure. If you have a fourth generation iPod touch with cameras, you can expect the same results. In fact, it seems to us that these are the SAME cameras used in the iPod touch — there's an "HD" lens around back (which means it's roughly a single megapixel shooter), and on the front you've got a lowly VGA cam. Neither one of these produces remotely satisfying results for still shots, and in particular (when compared with something like the Xoom), the back camera just seems utterly second rate. For video duties and FaceTime calls, the cameras are reasonably useful -- but we would never trade a dedicated camera (or at least a smartphone with a 5+ megapixel shooter) for this.

MG Siegler, TechCrunch:

Likes: "A week ago, after it's unveiling, I got some hands on time with the new hardware and my initial assessment was that it pushed a device that already had no true competition, even farther ahead. But now I've had the chance to actually use the thing non-stop for a week. Is my feeling the same? Actually, it’s even stronger. The original iPad was considered a huge hit — but that was with no real competition. The iPad 2 has some competition — right now, the Xoom, and many more are coming. But I have no doubt that the iPad 2 will be an even bigger hit than the original.

Dislikes: "The disappointments for the iPad 2 are largely the same as they were for the iPad 1. I still wish the thing was a little lighter. Holding it in one hand is fine in some positions, in others it gets tiring. I also wish the screen was less reflective. You basically cannot read anything in direct sunlight. The rest of my complaints are largely software-based. I wish there was a way to sync media and apps over the air. I wish the notification system was better, etc. Hopefully Apple will have more to show along those lines in iOS 5 shortly."

The iPad 2 will launch in Australia on March 25.

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

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