Many of the first iPad 2 reviews are in, and as you probably expected, people like it. That doesn’t mean that the tablet isn’t without it’s problems.
We’ve taken reviews from some of the internet’s most prominent sources of tech news and reviews and put them together for yet another review mix. This makes it easy for you to see opinions from various perspectives.
Hit the jump to read the review mix.
Pogue (NYT): No Direct mention of screen quality.
Mossberg (WSJ): The new iPad 2 still has the same vivid, large 9.7-inch screen
Engadget: It still looks good, though we really would have liked to see a bump in resolution — if not up to the Retina Display’s doubled numbers, then something substantial. We don’t take issue with the quality of the display as far as color balance or deepness of blacks go, but we would like to see higher pixel density, especially for the book apps.
USA Today: The 9.7-inch LED backlit screen on the new iPad, same size as the old model, hits the sweet spot for FaceTime, browsing and numerous applications. It’s a very nice screen for movies and most apps, and it matches the resolution of the first iPad.
TechCrunch: I also wish the screen was less reflective. You basically cannot read anything in direct sunlight.
Speaking of the screen, there had been a lot of talk about the iPad 2 getting a higher resolution ‚Äúretina‚Äù display. Obviously, that didn‚Äôt happen. That would have been nice, but the iPad screen as it stands is already pretty great.
Gruber (Daring Fireball): The display itself, to my eyes, seemed unchanged from the original iPad. I wouldn‚Äôt be surprised to find out that it is the identical component.
iSmashPhone Verdict: The screen quality is close if not identical to the previous model. No improvements. Some reviewers said they would like to have a higher-res screen.
Pogue (NYT): Yet somehow, the new iPad still gets 10 hours of battery life on a charge.
Mossberg (WSJ): Also, the battery life, while very good, isn‚Äôt as strong as I found it to be on the first iPad. In my tough battery test, where I played full-length movies until the battery died, with the screen brightness at about 75% and both Wi-Fi and cellular radios running, the iPad 2 just barely exceeded Apple‚Äôs claimed battery life, dying after 10 hours and nine minutes. That‚Äôs 2.5 hours better than the Xoom did on the same test, but more than an hour less than I got from the original iPad, which clocked in at 11 hours, 28 minutes.
Engadget: Not surprisingly, Apple promises major battery life on the iPad 2. Though the device has been physically trimmed down, the company says users can expect the same longevity we witnessed in the previous version. In our testing, this was 100 percent true.
USA Today: The claim fell a little short in my rather vigorous test.
TechCrunch: The battery life remains excellent. Apple made a point of saying that despite the new thinness, they didn‚Äôt sacrifice battery life. From my use this past week, that does seem to be the case.
Gruber (Daring Fireball): As far as I can tell, the iPad 2 gets identical battery life to the iPad 1.
iSmashPhone Verdict: Battery life always varies depending on how much testing was done. Most seem to say it’s the same. Engadget mentioned that it’s slightly better and Mossberg said that it was slightly worse. Expect no noticeable difference here either.
Pogue (NYT): My friends, I‚Äôm telling you: just that much improvement in thinness, weight and speed transforms the experience.
Mossberg (WSJ): I didn‚Äôt find the speed difference on iPad 2 to be dramatic, but it was noticeable. Apps launched and ran a bit quicker and the whole device felt very snappy.
Engadget: When we first handled the device, it seemed noticeably faster to us, and even after a week with the tablet, it’s still zippier than the previous model by a longshot.
USA Today: Fast with souped-up graphics.
TechCrunch: The Daily … launches and works much more smoothly on the iPad 2 than on the iPad 1. And that‚Äôs without any optimization being done on their side. Certain games like Infinity Blade also load faster and generally seem to run a bit more smoothly.
Gruber (Daring Fireball): One thing that struck me about these benchmarks, though, is that the iPad 1 consistently outscored the iPhone 4. But in real life, my iPhone 4 feels faster than my iPad (he said while speaking about the first iPad)
In practice, the iPad 2 feels like the fastest iOS device I‚Äôve ever used ‚Äî faster in every way than the iPhone 4. It doesn‚Äôt make my iPhone 4 feel slow, per se, but it does feel faster.
iSmashPhone Verdict: All say that the speed boost was noticeable, though Mossberg said it wasn’t a huge difference. Many of the Apps also launched faster, and games felt faster (Gruber goes very in-depth in his full review) but unless comparing side-by-side, most may not notice any significant boost.
Pogue (NYT): No direct mention, but talked about iPad’s lack of Flash vs other tablets saying that the iPad would still dominate the market thank to it’s Apps.
Mossberg (WSJ): The shiny new iPad 2 still won‚Äôt play Adobe‚Äôs Flash video in its built-in Web browser. This is a deliberate decision by Apple, and puts its devices at a disadvantage for some users when compared with Android tablets, which can play Flash, or say they will soon, albeit not always well.
Engadget: In general use, we found the browser to be noticeably faster and more responsive than on the previous iPad, which is a good thing considering that the browsing experience still doesn’t quite give you a desktop experience…We still have to take issue with the lack of Flash, however.
USA Today: Speeds through the Safari browser are bolstered in part by iOS 4.3, the new version of Apple’s mobile operating system software. (Also mentioned was lack of Flash and that the reviewer would have liked to see tabbed browsing.)
Pogue (NYT): No mention of sound quality or speaker.
Mossberg (WSJ): No mention
Engadget: The sound seems clearer if somewhat quieter than the old version, and we can’t say that there’s a major improvement as far as the placement goes. It does the job, but if you’re working in GarageBand (or just listening to music or watching video), you’ll want good headphones or decent speakers nearby.
USA Today: The external speaker is mono. (When explaining some of the lacking features of the iPad 2)
TechCrunch: No mention
Gruber (Daring Fireball): No mention
iSmashPhone Verdict: Most paid little attention to the sound, but Engadget points out that it’s slightly clearer, yet quieter. One speaker, so don’t expect any major improvements. Keep extra speakers or headphones around.
Pogue (NYT): There‚Äôs a camera on the back (no flash) that can record hi-definition video. If you‚Äôve never used a tablet as a camera, you‚Äôre in for a treat; the entire screen is your viewfinder. It‚Äôs like using an 8-by-10 enlargement to compose the scene. Bafflingly, though, the stills are only 0.7 megapixels.
There‚Äôs also a low-resolution front camera that‚Äôs useful for video calls, like clear, sharp Wi-Fi calls to iPhone 4, Touch, iPad 2 and Mac owners using Apple‚Äôs FaceTime software.
Mossberg (WSJ): Its cameras take mediocre still photos and Apple won‚Äôt even reveal their megapixel ratings. The company says they were designed for video, not still photography. They did capture decent video in my tests, including high-definition video from the rear camera and video good enough from the front camera for satisfying video calling. But, for a company known for quality, which bundles a new still-photo app with the device, the cameras are disappointing.
Engadget: 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.
USA Today: Indoor pictures I snapped in low light were grainy. There is no flash. Still, the VGA-quality front-facing camera or the HD (up to 720p) rear camera are just fine for FaceTime
TechCrunch: As you‚Äôve undoubtedly heard by now, the cameras on the device are not great. But it‚Äôs hard to imagine anyone using this as a point-and-shoot camera replacement ‚Äî or even a smartphone camera replacement.
Gruber (Daring Fireball): No direct mention of quality, but Gruber did say “The obvious way is to shoot it using the iPad 2‚Äôs built-in camera, but, come on, no matter how much you love your iPad, you‚Äôre not going to use it as your camcorder.”
iSmashPhone Verdict: While most said that the cameras work for what the iPad 2 does (FaceTime, HD video recording) they say that it takes terrible pictures. This was expected, as we heard a while back that the camera would be the same as the iPod touch 4G
Pogue (NYT): My friends, I‚Äôm telling you: just that much improvement in thinness, weight and speed transforms the experience. We‚Äôre not talking about a laptop or a TV, where you don‚Äôt notice its thickness while in use. This is a tablet. You are almost always holding it. Thin and light are unbelievably important for comfort and the overall delight. So are rounded edges, which the first iPad didn‚Äôt have.
Mossberg (WSJ): While the 1.33-pound weight isn‚Äôt that much less than the original‚Äôs, I found the difference noticeable when carrying the device.
Engadget: It looks and feels amazingly sleek when you hold it…Of course, it’s still not exactly light, weighing in at 1.33 pounds (or 1.34 / 1.35 for the 3G models), just a hair under the original’s one and a half pounds.
USA Today: It is about a third thinner than its predecessor, but it feels solid and is easy to grip.
TechCrunch: And while the iPad 2 isn‚Äôt actually all that much lighter than the iPad 1 (about 700g versus 600g ‚Äî depending on if you get the 3G or WiFi version, obviously), the change in thickness almost tricks you into thinking it is significantly lighter.
Gruber (Daring Fireball): Physically, the iPad 2 does feel a bit lighter than the old iPad, but it‚Äôs the thinness that‚Äôs striking. Compared to the new iPad 2, my original iPad doesn‚Äôt feel heavy, but it does feel fat…rounded edges on the iPad 2 make it significantly more comfortable to hold in one hand.
iSmashPhone Verdict: Some say that it’s not much lighter (which it’s not). However, they say that the much slimmer design makes it feel lighter. It’s also easier to hold thanks to the rounded edges.
Pogue (NYT): Furthermore, new Android tablets will be able to play Flash videos and animations on the Web, something that both Apple and Adobe (maker of Flash) assure us will never come to the iPad (or iPhone). Flash on a tablet or phone can be balky and battery-hungry, but it‚Äôs often better than nothing. Thousands of news and entertainment Web sites still rely on Flash, and the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch simply can‚Äôt display them. (Though he went on to say that this won’t really matter in the end because the iPad has much more going for it)
Mossberg (WSJ): Another drawback I encountered was that the new, more tapered design makes it harder to plug cables and accessories‚Äîincluding the charging cable‚Äîinto the main port on the bottom of the device, because it is now angled.
Engadget: The cameras are severely lacking, the screen — while extremely high quality — is touting last year’s spec, and its operating system still has significant annoyances, like the aggravating pop-up notifications.
USA Today: No Adobe Flash support means some Web videos won’t play. Requires accessories for HDMI, USB and SD. AirPlay feature sometimes hiccupped.
TechCrunch: 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.
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.
Gruber (Daring Fireball): Nothing mentioned
iSmashPhone Verdict: The cameras and lack of Flash were all said to be downsides. Mossberg said that the charging port was a bit hard to use thanks to the new tapered design, which makes the port slightly angled.
Pogue (NYT): When talking about the iPad 2 being much more competitively priced than competing Android tablets, he said “But that price detail may turn a lot of heads. It means that for the first time, your heart can succumb to the iPad mystique ‚Äî without having to ignore the practical input from your brain.”
Mossberg (WSJ): As of now, I can comfortably recommend it as the best tablet for average consumers.
Engadget: The iPad 2 is as good as it gets right now. And it’s really quite good.
USA Today: The iPad 2 doesn’t deliver everything on your tablet wish list. But when it comes to the ever-evolving state of the art, iPad 2 is second to none.
TechCrunch: Let me sum all of this up in a simple way: the iPad 2, should you buy one? Maybe ‚Äî it depends on a few factors. Will you want to buy one? Yes. Use that information wisely.
Gruber (Daring Fireball): Like last year‚Äôs iPhone 4, it seems like technology from the near future.
iSmashPhone Verdict: For the most part, reviewers say that those who own an iPad will probably want to hold off unless they really need a lighter device and a camera or naturally update their Apple products every year. Gruber puts it well when he says that the people who bought the first tablet aren’t Apple’s target. They are going after the people who didn’t buy it the first time around. Those who own the original will probably wait until next year anyway.
The iPad 2 is Raising the Bar Again
The reviewers seem to all say that the iPad 2 is again raising the bar. If not for specs, for the competitive price and the fact that it’s very, very thin.
Whether you choose to upgrade or not, or buy your first iPad with this model, expect the reviews to continue to roll in.
Also, read the original reviews at the following links: