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Entries in iPad 2 (5)

Thursday
May052011

Tablet Wars - iPad 2 vs Xoom vs Galaxy Tab

Over the past month I have been testing a number of tablets, specifically the iPad 2 running iOS 4.3, Motorola Xoom running Android 3.0 and Samsung Galaxy Tab running Android 2.2. At the time of writing these are the main three tablets available in the UK.

I don't plan to write a detailed review of each device, as this has already been widely covered across the web. Instead I thought I would simply post some images of the different devices for comparison. So if you're just interested in the gallery I suggest you jump there now - Tablet Wars - Gallery.

However, being a Tech Guy, I couldn't help but write a quick summary on my experience with each device.

I'll start with the iPad 2. I don't think there is too much more to say on this device. Simply put, it's the best all-round tablet on the market today. iOS 4.3 offers a great user experience that is fast and reliable, it also has the most comprehensive App Store with thousands of applications designed specifically to take advantage of the iPad's features. Regarding the hardware, it is the slimmest and most elegant tablet of the three, but retains incredible performance and battery life. The IPS screen literally shines through as the best of the bunch. The only disappointment is the two cameras that fall below what I have come to expect from mobile devices.

I really like the Motorola Xoom as I see huge potential in Android 3.0 (Honeycomb). Unfortunately, in my opinion, this feels like an unfinished product. The hardware clearly has plenty of power, but at times Honeycomb feels very sluggish, especially when compared to iOS on the iPad 2. The Android Marketplace is also currently unusable for tablet users. Finding an application that has been optimised for Honeycomb is nearly impossible and after many hours of searching the web I found a handful of applications, but none offered the overall quality found in the Apple App Store.

Finally, regarding the hardware, I have high hopes for NVIDIA's Tegra 2 chipset, however it's the Xoom's display that lets it down. The lack of IPS and anti-glare technology results in a display that looks great indoors, under low light conditions and if you are looking directly at it, however as soon as any one of these conditions are changed, it immediately becomes very frustrating to use. Hopefully we will see better results from future Honeycomb devices, such as the Asus Eee Pad which does include IPS technology.

The final tablet I have tested is the Samsung Galaxy Tab. This is an older product and has been on the market since the original iPad. Let me offer one piece of advise "Do not buy this device". Although the hardware is ok, the software (Android 2.2) has simply been ported from a smartphone. Therefore the user experience is awful, with the UI trying to fill the gap between a phone and a tablet and applications looking stretched and in some cases not working at all. This product is the exact reason why Google went back to the drawing board with Honeycomb to create an Android experience designed specifically for tablets. 

So in conclusion, if I was going to recommend one tablet right now it would definitely be the iPad 2. In my opinion Apple are still at least one year ahead of the competition, in terms of hardware quality and software maturity. Going forward I expect to see Google Android devices to close the gap, as it is clear that Android 3.0 is a significant leap forward from where they were with Android 2.2 for tablets. I'm also looking forward to geting my hands on devices from HP with the TouchPad and RIM with the PlayBook.

Don't forget to check out my "Tablet Wars - Gallery".

Thursday
Mar242011

Apple iPad 2 Pricing Comparison

With the iPad 2 going on sale across much of the world tomorrow (Friday 25th March), it is interesting to see where you can pick one up for the best price.

Thankfully MacRumors member mickbab has done a great job of putting together the international pricing for comparison. The table below is taken from MacRumors and is massive, so click for a better view.

The only thing to note is that the US pricing does not include sales tax (as it varies).

Overall you can see that the UK prices are actually quite competitive when compared with our friends across Europe, with Norway achieving the highest price of £714 for the 64GB 3G model.

For full details, plenty of discussion (and to say thanks to mickbab for his hard work), I suggest you head over to MacRumors.

Friday
Mar112011

The iPad 2 Arrives!

Today the iPad 2 launched across the US and unsurprisingly it was in high demand.

As Apple did not offer a pre-ordering service, buyers were forced to hit the streets if they wanted to guarantee themselves an iPad 2 on day one. As a result, long queues were seen across the country at Apple's stores. The same story was seen online with iPad 2 shipping dates immediately slipping to 2 - 3 weeks.

Thankfully, those who braved the weather did manage to pick up an iPad 2, which means user reports and reviews have been flooding in. PCMag have put together a short video of their new iPad 2:

Overall reviews are calling the iPad 2 evolutionary, instead of revolutionary, however it is still being positioned as the best tablet on the market. For a full breakdown of the press reviews head over to MacRumors

Wednesday
Mar022011

Introducing the iPad 2

As predicted, today Apple announced their next generation tablet, known as the iPad 2.

The iPad 2 has the same 9.7-inch display but is 33% thinner than the original iPad. It has both a front and rear facing camera for FaceTime and HD video, as well as being powered by Apple's new 1GHz dual-core A5 processor, offering 2x the CPU performance and up to 9x the graphics performance of the original iPad. Finally, the iPad 2 will be available in both black and white at launch.

There have been no changes made to the display (still 1024x768) or the button configuration. The table below shows full specification comparison between the original iPad and the iPad 2:

As you can see, the iPad 2 now also includes a Gyroscope (like the iPhone 4) and will be available in both GSM (AT&T) and CDMA (Verizon) for US customers. 

Apple also announced and demonstrated iOS 4.3 (currently available in beta), which will come as standard on the iPad 2, as well as iPad versions of Photo Booth, iMovie and GarageBand. All these applications looked great, really taking advantage of the large display and speed of the iPad 2.

There were two other unexpected products unveiled at the event. Firstly, a new case for the iPad 2, known as the Smart Cover. During the keynote Steve explained that the Smart Cover was designed alongside the iPad 2, ensuring "a perfect fit that not only protects, but also wakes up, stands up, and brightens up your iPad". It works by having a magnetic latch that automatically attaches to the iPad 2 and when the cover is in place, the integrated Magnetometer in the iPad is used to automatically put the device into standby. The Smart Cover can also be used as a stand (both horizontal and vertical). Apple have put together a short video showing the Smart Cover in action.

The second item was a new HDMI (AV) cable, which is compatible with the iPad and iPhone. For the first time this allows for "one to one" mapping of iOS on to a HDTV. This is great news for developers as it will allow them to demonstrate their apps to large audiences, without needing to "Jailbreak". The HDMI cable will output at 720p on the iPhone and 1080p for the iPad 2. It is available for £30 from the Apple Store.

Overall I think this is a worthy (and expected) upgrade to the iPad. I didn't believe the rumors that the iPad 2 would receive a "Retina Display", this will likely happen with the iPad 3 next year. I don't actually believe this is a big issue as the majority of the competition (Motorola, HP and RIM) all have a similar resolution.

The iPad 2 will be available in the US from the 11th March and the UK from the 25th March, although currently there is no option to pre-order. The pricing remains the same as the original iPad (starting at £429). For more information on the iPad 2 head over to Apple for the official keynote video and Engadget for the first hands on.

Wednesday
Feb232011

iPad 2, MacBook Pro & Light Peak!

It was just over one year ago that Apple introduced the world to the iPad. Today Apple announced a media event scheduled for 2nd March and if the invitations are anything to go by, I think it's safe to assume we will get our first glimpse of the next generation iPad! 

It's actually been a busy couple of weeks for Apple rumors as most of the industry experts are predicting an imminent update to the MacBook Pro range, which could include a new I/O port known as Light Peak.

It's common knowledge that Intel and Apple have been developing a new optical cable interface that would aim to be a single universal replacement for current buses such as USB, FireWire, SATA, PCI Express and Display Port. This is possible due to the predicted ultra high bandwidth, starting at 10Gb/s, with the potential to scale to 100Gb/s over the next decade.

The current rumors are that Apple will merge a copper version of Light Peak (also known as Thunderbolt) with Display Port across the entire MacBook Pro range. This would leave existing ports such as USB and Firewire untouched, but offer Apple notebooks compatibility with the future standard. I wouldn't normally post about rumors, but this is backed up by the fact that Intel are also prepping for an announcement tomorrow, which many believe will be Light Peak focused. If this is all true it is possible that the iPad 2 could take advantage of this new I/O, offering a single high bandwidth port, that could also be used to drive a display.

I expect to see the official MacBook Pro and Light Peak announcement on the Apple website as early as tomorrow.