iPad 2 reality check

Somewhat buried under today’s news about the major earthquake in Japan was Apple’s retail launch of the iPad 2 in the US. I skipped the long lines and all the hype and went to an Apple store in Los Angeles about an hour before it closed. Deliberately understocked for additional marketing effect (“look, we sold them all in one day”) or not, all iPads were sold out and this easily decided the question of whether or not to purchase a device within the first minute that I had entered the store.

Although Apple has improved the iPad’s software compared to last year at launch, here are my reasons as to why I still wouldn’t have bought an iPad today even if I could have:

  • Weight: Still much too heavy for my taste and it felt uncomfortable to hold in one hand for more than 5 minutes in a way that my fingers wouldn’t cover the screen.
  • “Multitasking”: No change compared to last year and apps still need to be closed to switch to another app. Even my Nokia N8 cellphone can do better than that.
  • Walled garden: All roads still lead to Cupertino, from first forced activation using iTunes on Windows or Mac, to apps and music and video. As I solely run Ubuntu Linux on my PCs at home, getting the device activated would already have been impossible, let alone moving photos and music on or off the device. This remains a major drawback for me.
  • Garage Band: The arrival of this application on the iPad alone made me go to the Apple store and take a look but sadly Garage Band felt much less expressive than Apple’s promotional videos made me expect. I also found that the force detection when tapping the screen did not seem to be that sophisticated and tones were either loud or very low volume without any in-betweens. In hindsight, from the few minutes I spent in the store with it, the application feels a bit more like a gimmick than a serious music application. Maybe Apple will release new instruments and make other improvements later on.

All in all, I guess I need to check back again in 6-10 months or so for the iPad 3, to see if Apple can convince me to spend my money on their products. In the meantime, I’ll probably give other tablet manufacturers a chance.


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