The iPad 2 has been quickly dismissed in some quarters as an underwhelming upgrade, a small boost that offers little in the way of new skills: no Thunderbolt, no USB, no SD. But while Apple haters will never come round to Jobs’s slate, the fact is that the iPad remains the tablet to beat, for myriad reasons.
First, and perhaps most importantly, is price. Yes, the slick new iPad 2 costs the same as the first-generation model. But Apple has smartly seen to it that the original iPad will also be available for a limited period before the new effort hits shelves here in the UK on March 25th, and at a cut price too.
A 16GB Wi-Fi only model now costs £329. That’s mighty good value for a product that still has the skills to work as a top-notch tab, thanks to iOS 4.3. Not to mention the fact that it heavily undercuts that Wi-Fi-only Motorola Xoom Android Honeycomb tablet, which is set to launch on April 9th for a massive £499. In keeping prices of the iPad 2 stable and upping the specs, Apple has played a bit of a blinder. It’s maintained a premium while fighting Android in pretty much every department.
The new model offers some handy boosts in the form of the new A5 chip and dual cameras. Meanwhile, the Xoom will not launch until after the iPad 2, while the BlackBerry PlayBook and HTC Flyer are still not ready to make it to shelves. Apple’s been swift in its release and has been quick to show that it has what it takes to out do the competition with a largely iterative update.
Design is also a key factor. Quite simply, no other tablet matches up to the 8.8mm iPad 2. It just looks and feels better than any rivals out there, something which cannot be underestimated. Its slim and light frame will be a big draw for those who’ve perhaps thought that a tablet was too bulky to carry around until now.
The iPad’s vast range of apps also helps it to a major lead over existing and forthcoming rivals, even if Steve Jobs’ claims that Android is seriously trailing in this department lack credibility.
The PlayBook and HP’s TouchPad are really going to struggle in this department. After all, it’s apps as much as design that make a tablet tick. Without them the devices lack the require cache to sell in big volumes.
Ultimately, the iPad 2 will face some seriously stiff competition in the next few months. But this is an upgrade that’s hard to argue with. If rumours are to be believed, an iPad 3, with some serious changes, will be here before Christmas, just as the second wave of Android tabs hit the streets. In the meantime, the iPad remains the tablet everyone’s gunning for.