By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at 11:43 pm
The iPad doesn’t show up at retail stores until 5pm on Friday, but the first reviews of big tech products usually break on Wednesday evenings–and so a bunch of major sites rendered their verdicts on Apple’s second-generation tablet tonight.
There are no shockers. Everybody likes it. They find it a thoroughly pleasing refinement rather than a reinvention of iPad #1. They all find a nit or two to pick, but nobody identifies another company’s model as superior. Actually, they agree that it’s the best tablet on the market.
As usual, the last paragraphs–or, occasionally, the last two paragraphs–of the reviews tend to nicely summarize the author’s take. So here are a bunch of ’em…
As new contenders move into the field, Apple isn’t likely to keep its 90% share of the booming tablet market. But the iPad 2 moves the goal posts, by being slimmer and lighter, boosting speed and power, and holding its price advantages, available apps and battery life. As of now, I can comfortably recommend it as the best tablet for average consumers.
David Pogue, The New York Times (David, take two grafs, won’t you? They’re small!):
But the shocker here, though, is that the iPad 2 actually costs less than its comparably equipped Android rivals, like the Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. That twist must have something to do with Apple’s huge buying clout — when you order five million of some component at a time, you can usually persuade the vendor to cut you a deal.
But that surprising price detail may turn a lot of heads. It means that for the first time, your heart can succumb to the iPad mystique — without having to ignore the more practical input from your brain.
For everyone else, the iPad 2 is a triumph, an iPad that’s even more iPad than the original. And the original one was really good. The first iPad was a bolt from the blue, a device that defined an entire category, and a tough act to follow. The iPad 2 follows it with aplomb.
The iPad 2 is a solid second-generation iteration. Easier and more comfortable to hold, noticeably faster, equippable with foldable covers that are both literally and figuratively magnetic. Like last year’s iPhone 4, it seems like technology from the near future.
For owners of the previous generation, we don’t think Apple’s put a fire under you to upgrade. Unless you absolutely need cameras on your tablet, you’ve still got a solid piece of gear that reaps plenty of the benefits of the latest OS and apps. For those of you who haven’t yet made the leap, feel free to take a deep breath and dive in — the iPad 2 is as good as it gets right now. And it’s really quite good.
The camera quality isn’t great, and there’s no 4G data or mobile hotspot feature. At the same time, Android 3.0 tablets such as the Motorola Xoom do a better job with multitasking and notifications. But when you look at the whole package–hardware, software, apps, battery life, accessories, and price–the iPad 2 is the king of tablets.
Overall, the Apple iPad 2 is the best tablet you can buy right now, so it’s our Editors’ Choice. Currently, the Motorola Xoom shows tremendous promise and even edges past the iPad in a few areas (cameras and multitasking to name a couple). But even without the advantage of far more apps, the iPad 2 simply provides a better user experience and operates more gracefully and seamlessly with your media than Android devices. If you live happily outside the iTunes ecosystem, an Android tablet like the Xoom is certainly worth considering. But if you’re in the market for a new device now, and have no loyalty to a specific manufacturer or operating system, the iPad 2 is the tablet to get.
For everyone else, though, Apple has put together a superbly capable, class-shaping tablet, which can now legitimately take on not only other slates but lighter ereaders such as Amazon’s Kindle. The iPad 2 benefits from Apple’s cohesive hardware and software development together with the vast third-party developer support of the App Store, consistent and simple to use in equal measure. Apple’s vision of the post-PC world isn’t quite here yet – the iPad 2 still works best with, and at times demands, integration with a “proper” computer – but when it comes to tablets the iPad 2 maintains its position at the vanguard of the market.
Peter Ha, The Daily (Peter also looks like he wants two short paragraphs):
That all depends on what you’re doing with your iPad now. Cameras and speed aside, the iPad 2 isn’t drastically different than what you have in your hands. It’s just a much sleeker and sexier version of it.
So far, the only hand-on time I’ve had with an iPad 2 was at Apple’s press event last week. I like what I saw (and given the significance of its lighter, thinner case, I liked what I felt). I look forward to sharing more thoughts once I’ve spent more time with one–and hearing what you think if you’re one of the folks in line on Friday to snap one up.