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Thursday, 5 May 2011

Review: iPad 2 vs iPad 1: Start up, Loading times, Games and Web Browsing (checkerboard) comparison.

Without any advertising Apple launched the iPad 2 in South Africa on the 29th of April, a mere 3 months after the official iPad 1 SA launch. Me being the Apple fan that I am managed to get my hands on one.

The iPad 2 is selling at the same old iPad 1 price starting at R4399 for the 16Gb WiFi version.

For more information on the pricing follow the link below:

In order to review the iPad 2 it would be difficult to look at the similarities between the iPad 1 and iPad 2, instead let us look at what has been upgraded or changed.

The new iPad 2:
  • has a new dual core A5 processor
  • has a VGA front facing camera for FaceTime, Photobooth and various other applications
  • has a rear camera for taking pictures and recording 720p HD video
  • is a 1/3 thinner and lighter
  • sports a new graphics processor claiming an increased graphics performance of 9x

Of all the upgrades above the first thing you notice is how unbelievably thin the iPad 2 feels compared to the iPad 1. It is amazing that they managed to squeeze all that tech into such a slim case.

<-------- iPad 1      iPad 2 ------->

As a gamer I was the most excited about the claimed CPU and graphics performance upgrades so in order to illustrate the differences between the two I have created a side by side video comparison of the iPad 1 and iPad 2. The video shows the load times and performance differences for start up, games and browsing. Click on the video to view the comparison.

As shown in the video the iPad 2 is faster at starting up and loading apps and doesn't suffer from the plagued checkerboard effect that the iPad 1 has when browsing large web pages.
The in-game graphics are definitely smoother with higher frame rates but the claimed 9x graphics performance increase definitely wasn't as obvious as expected during the tests. It felt almost like twice the performance instead of 9x. I anticipate that the benefit of the increase graphics performance will only come when the developers use it to implement options like anti aliasing without sacrificing frame rates. This will hopefully bring iPad games closer to console quality games.

Which model to get?
All the models across the entire iPad 2 range has the same internals (CPU, screen, etc) so you do not get any added benefit beside capacity and 3G by choosing a more expensive unit. My opinion has always been that the entry level model is the best value for your money as you stand to lose the least when selling it again. And with the option to make your iPhone a personal hotspot with the latest firmware upgrade (4.3) you don't even need to buy a 3G iPad.
Think of it this way, in order to utilise a 3G iPad you will need a data contract over and above your normal phone contract so that you have a dedicated SIM that you leave in your iPad. On the other hand if you use your iPhone's personal hotspot to connect your iPad to the Internet you would save the expense of a separate data contract and the additional cost of a 3G model. In my case I use my iPad 85% of the time at home where I use my WiFi connection to the Internet and on the odd occasion when I use it outside my house I always have my iPhone in my pocket to link it to the Internet. Now ask yourself if it makes sense to pay the extra R1200 for the 3G version as well as the R1000 - R2000 pa for a data contract?

In conclusion I would suggest to hold onto your iPad 1 if you use it mainly for browsing and email. If you like playing games and use graphics intensive multimedia apps such as iMovie I suggest you buy the iPad 2.

If you have never had the opportunity to play around with the iPad 1 or iPad 2 I suggest you borrow your friends one for a few days (if he is willing to let it go) and I'm sure you will be hooked. Whenever I have a party or function at home my iPad seems to be constantly in use by my friends, be it for surfing, YouTube, games or just viewing movies and pictures. I always tell people that if you looking at getting your parents or any anti-tech person to use the Internet and email the iPad is the ideal tool. It is so simple that by the touch of an icon you have your email, browsing, photos and music on one device. No left click and right click, menus and start bars.

Go out and buy the iPad 2. It is truly and pleasure to use, extremely simple and stunning to look at. I'm actually posting this review from my iPad 2 while relaxing on my couch using an app called BlogPress.

For a more comprehensive and techinical look at the new iPad 2 click on the link below for the Engadget review:

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