Anyone that reads this blog or follows me on Twitter will know my dislike for Apple because of their business practices, trying to use legal methods to get their rivals products banned around the world. So buying an iPad was a painful experience for me, $400 is a lot of money to pay for something that I morally didn’t want to buy. But needs must as we needed an iPad for my autistic son, who will benefit from some of the therapeutic software that is exclusively available on the iPad, iPhone or iPod. Despite my dislike for the company, the products themselves are excellent!
I unboxed the iPad 2, switched it on, finding it was already 80% charged, followed the setup wizard to connect to my home wireless network, log into my Apple ID, which I apparently already had; I must have set one up back in 2005 when I bought myself a 4th Generation iPod. It also asked if I wanted some services to have access to my location, including a system that can locate my iPad should I mislay it. So setup is slick and a breeze to use, so no complaints from me at this stage!
I really can’t find too much wrong with the way that the iPad 2 works; the interface is very slick and intuitive, the default apps work well, it’s easy to setup Email, calendar and notes functionality, but if you do use the wizard to setup your Gmail account for example, it will not allow you to synch Google contacts. You’ll need to setup you Gmail as an MS Exchange account, using “m.google.com” as your server address to be able to synch your Google contacts, but this is just a small annoyance.
The App Store has a good selection of freely downloadable apps, including quite a few Google apps, like Gmail, Chrome and Drive. But beware that some apps that are freely downloadable are limited and charge to make the app fully functional, I’ve read horror stories of $1,000s being spent using the in-app purchase system. The built in music player is basic but functional, it plays music stored on the iPad’s internal 16GB memory, there’s no EQ settings to “tune” your sound, but “there’s an app for that”, of course, being Apple. The video player is much the same, does what it says on the tin and nothing more, but what more do you need, sometimes basic is better than flashy gadgetry.
The 9.7in touchscreen display offers 1024 x 768 resolution which is bright, sharp and responsive to the touch; as good as but not better than other devices I have used, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, difference being that the Galaxy Tab is widescreen (16:9) while the iPad 2 has a traditional 4:3 screen ratio; and the display is not fingerprint resistant as Apple claim. The audio is very good; the sound from the single speaker at the bottom rear of the device gives decent tone, clarity and bass reproduction, obviously not thumping low end but it has decent presence and good volume for such a small speaker. Headphone output is more than loud enough using my Sony MDR-V150 headphones, sound is balanced with a deep bass reproduction, which comes as no surprise; my old 4G iPod also had the same great tone and balance, overall, the iPad 2 display and audio is excellent!
The Wireless system works very well, connects quickly upon cold boot and the speed is excellent, browsing speeds are also excellent, very close to my laptop in loading pages. The big downside to the iPad 2 browsing experience is the lack of Adobe Flash support, where rival Android devices have the upper hand with so many sites using Flash components. The other issue is that websites, including this website, that have a fixed background are compromised because the background scrolls with the page, which is something to do with the background being linked to the viewport!
Battery life is excellent; I’ve been using the iPad for about five hours; and I still have 75% battery remaining after being charged overnight to 100%. Going by this battery usage, I assume the battery will last approximately 15 to 20 hours on a single charge, which if true is excellent, much better than the Samsung Galaxy Tab, who’s battery lasts approximately 8 to 10 hours.
Now I’ll move onto some of the negatives about the device; such as the restriction system, they work great, allowing the blocking for installing, uninstalling apps, access to the default browser, YouTube, iTunes as well as setting ratings restrictions for media. But the bad thing is that because it hides the app icons, restrictions have to be disabled to use those apps, and when you do so, it wipes the settings you have created and you need to start from scratch to reset them. All it needs to do is ask for the pin to disable, then ask for the pin again to re-enable retaining your settings.
There was also an issue with the app store when I tried to buy the application that my son will use to improve his speech and sentence structuring. I noticed that all the prices were in British pounds, but I couldn’t see a way the change store. I changed my address, phone and payment details to my current location in the United States. Rebooted the iPad but the App Store remained set to the British store. I had to install iTunes on my computer and synch the iPad with the computer to get the store to change to the US version. Only then could I complete the purchase of the software. You’d think it’d be easier to change between stores, it would be such a simple addition!
I really wanted to hate the iPad 2; but I actually really like it with the exception of the couple of issues above, but there are workarounds for the App Store issue, the issue with the restrictions is more problematic, especially if you change a lot of restriction settings. Would I recommend the iPad 2? putting aside my dislike for the company that makes it; I’d have to say yes, but not without reservation, Apple needs to add a SDHC card slot to expand memory, as things stand, we’d need to buy a whole new iPad at great cost instead of buying a much cheaper SDHC card to expand memory!