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I’ve had my iPad 2 close to 4 days now, and not once have I regretted my decision to buy one over the Motorola Xoom.  Trust me, I love Android and consider myself a fandroid, but I can’t help but to be impressed by Apple’s tablet.  Considering it’s been out for over a month I’m not going to go into a full review (just a fancy way of saying that I’m being lazy today), but I do want to share some of my hands-on experiences with this sexy little piece of hardware.

iPad 2

EB 9/10

The Awesome – Simplicity, Apps, Hardware

The Not So Awesome – Flash-less, No True Customization, Outdated Browser

 

The Awesome

Simplicity

Hands down the best feature of the iPad 2 is how dumbed down its OS is.  I’m not saying that it’s a crappy OS, but Apple’s iOS for mobile devices is probably the easiest operating system to pick up for any level of geek.  I can see why the iPhone and iPad brands are so popular with the masses, because of how easy they are to use.  I didn’t have to spend a large amount of time learning the OS, so I could jump right into to downloading apps and just playing with my iPad 2.  I do miss the ability to have complete freedom when it comes to how I want my iPad 2 to look, but honestly, it was refreshing to just get to the meat of the iPad 2 and star playing with it, versus obsessing over what widgets to install on my menus, and how each widget should follow a certain theme to be placed on said menu (On Android I have a Home screen, Gaming Screen, Productivity screen, and a Utilities screen).

It took the wind out of my usually obsessive compulsive little head when it comes to perfecting a new gadget and customizing it to Hell and back.  So I really did find some solace in the fact that I didn’t have to waste the first few days of owning an iPad 2 with learning a new OS.  iOS really could be used by a bunch of primates, so if you’re someone who doesn’t like to think or learn new stuff, then I suggest checking out an iDevice running Apple’s mobile OS!

Apps

Without a doubt, one of the main reasons I went with the iPad 2 over the Motorola Xoom is the fact that Apple and its devs have had a year to fine tune their programs for the iPad, where the Xoom literally got a brand new version of Android that hasn’t been battle-tested quite yet.  I really didn’t want to enter the tablet space and have an unsatisfying experience due to the fact that the OS wasn’t quite buttoned up, and the app support is less than stellar.  Hence, my main motivation for scoring an iPad 2 is the fact that it has a boatload of apps that are geared towards the tablet platform.

Within 30 minutes of entering the App Store I found myself searching every category to find those little pieces of gold that could make my iPad even more excellent than it already is.  If I didn’t require sleep, I still think I’d be sitting in my dirty a*s clothes from Sunday downloading apps like they were going out of style.  There are plenty of free apps to get any iPad 2 owner started on the path to tablet Zen, but I highly recommend starting with the Flipboard app to really showcase how awesome the iPad experience can be.  There are plenty others to keep you busy for hours, and I’m far from done when it comes to farting around in the App Store, but if you take a look at the list below I’ve included some of my favorites.

Banging iPad Apps (No particular order)

  1. Netflix (Works and looks great on the iPad 2)
  2. Plants vs. Zombies HD (Honestly one of the reasons I wanted an iPad 2 Mmmm Brains)
  3. Hootsuite (Best Social Networking management tool until Seesmic makes a true app for the iPad)
  4. iBooks/Magazine Readers (I seriously may start reading again due to these apps.  Comics look f*cking fantastic!)
  5. Fluid Monkey (Best app to just waste time and be mesmerized by your new toy, great for showing the iPad 2 off)

Hardware

The iPad 2 really is an amazing piece of technology.  It’s super slim design and lightweight feel truly make this thing seem like something out of the future.  I found myself carrying it around like its a little baby that I wanted to show off to the world.  The screen looks wonderful (Would’ve loved a Retina Display), the touch controls are flawless, the single speaker is plenty loud, and the overall execution of apps and the OS doesn’t hiccup at all.  I’m amazed at how well iOS handles open processes and threads without the need of user intervention.

The iPad 2 is Slimmer Than a Supermodel on an Ice cube Diet

I’m so used to the PC world and the occasional need to shut down some non-responsive applications that I almost couldn’t believe that I didn’t need to kill apps once I was done using them.  You can literally have multiple processes going on without noticing any sort of memory lag, or long loading times when switching between apps.  I could really see how well the A5 processor handles the load I throw at it, and I don’t feel as bad knowing that my iPad 2 only has 512MB of RAM versus the Xoom’s 1GB.  It’s just a strange feeling not having to worry about apps crashing, or managing processes to get the most out of my device, but I’m digging it.  Like I said, this whole iPad 2 experiment is just what I needed to give me a break after supping up my HTC Thunderbolt.

 

The Not So Awesome

Flash-less

Yes, not having Flash does indeed suck, but it’s not as bad as you’d think.  Lord Jobs’ stance on Flash has definitely forced most big name companies to overhaul their websites, but not every site is bowing down to Apple’s needs.  I found that certain sites wouldn’t allow me to view their content due to the fact that the iPad 2 is Flash-less, and it did kind of blow.  I guess I still don’t really see Apple’s beef with Adobe’s product as being completely valid.  Flash works wonderfully on my Thunderbolt, and it never shows up under my biggest power consuming apps list in the battery manager.  Apple needs to get off it’s soap box and just implement Flash, but I know there’s a better chance of peace on Earth before that happens, so until HTML5 and CSS3 really start taking off, I’m expecting to be denied an optimal browsing experience on every site while using my iPad 2.

No True Customization

In my opinion, the lack of the ability to customize the iOS interface is both a blessing and a curse.  Like I said before, I enjoyed just being able to fire my iPad 2 up and have it pretty much ready to use, but I would like the ability to make my iPad 2 stand out in the crowd.  Just like other Apple devices, unless you jailbreak (Hack) the iPad you’re left with the simple grid-like interface that millions of other iPad owners have.  There’s no real way to make the iPad your own.  I’d love to throw on some widgets like I can for my Android based phone, or change the whole theme of the UI.  Looking at square icons all lined up in a uniform fashion just doesn’t cut it for me.  It just feels strange that a company who caters to the creative people in this World doesn’t let those same people use their imaginations when it comes to adding their own flare to an Apple device.

This is My iPad2 Which Probably Looks Like Everyone Else’s – BORING!

Outdated Browser

The Safari Mobile browser does the iPad 2 no justice!  It feels like it’s straight out of 1998 and doesn’t include some web browsing features that have almost become the norm in today’s browser scene.  There’s no tabbed browsing, which completely baffles me.  Sure you can open more than one window, but it’s not nearly as fluid as opening additional tabs in the same browsing window.  The whole Mobile Safari experience just seems so dated and out of place on this futuristic device that I truly wonder if Apple just said, “F*ck it, they’ll buy whatever we throw at ’em, so who cares about upgrading our browser right now!”

 

The Final Verdict

The iPad 2 truly is a technological masterpiece!  Apple’s 1 year head start in the tablet market is clearly evident in their second-gen iPad, which really is the best tablet experience today.  I’m sure in a few months from now when Android devices have had some time to stew on the Honeycomb OS, and the Android devs start making apps that are optimized for tablets, Google will become a much stiffer competitor in the tablet space, but for now (and it kills me to admit it) Apple’s iPad 2 reigns supreme.  I have fallen in love with it, and can’t wait to find new and awesome things to do with it as time goes bye.

I knock on Apple pretty hard, but this thing really is a stroke of genius!  If you’ve been split on which way to go in regards to tablets, I can confirm that this Fandroid is completely satisfied with going over to the Darkside, and I haven’t regretted my decision whatsoever.  I give the iPad 2 a very solid 9/10, and can’t wait to finish my posts for the day so I can get back to cracking out on it.  You’ve been shown the light…

 

[#ff entbuddha] “Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”

EB Original

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Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of EntertainmentBuddha.com where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he’s not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.