I got a chance to stop by the Apple Store in Center City Philadelphia this afternoon. There was a small line outside the store when I arrived, but after standing in it for a few minutes, I was told that they were sold out of iPad 2 units and that e didn’t really need to stand in the line anyway if we just wanted to go in the store and look around. So that’s what I did.
While there may not have been any new tablets available for purchase, there were at least a dozen demo units on display and I spent a few minutes checking out Apple’s second generation tablet. As promised, it’s thinner, lighter, and faster than the original. But you know what? It really doesn’t feel all that different. If anything, using the iPad 2 for about 10 minutes tempted me to pick up a first generation iPad. Refurbished models are going for as little as $349, which is a lot more attractive than the $499 starting price for the iPad 2.
That said, if you want or need cameras, the iPad 2 is the way to go. It doesn’t have very good cameras, but at least it has some. It also officially supports apps such as iMovie which required cameras — although you can install that on the original iPad if you know what you’re doing. And the new iPad is certainly faster than the original. But it doesn’t feel much faster — because the original iPad was already pretty snappy.
Probably the best reason to pick up the iPad 2 instead of the original is because it’s slightly more future-proof. Sure, Apple will just launch a new model that will make this one look obsolete next year (or maybe even later this year, if the rumor mill is correct). But I suspect we’ll eventually start seeing apps that really take advantage of the dual core processor which aren’t available on the first generation iPad.
Still, I might just hold out for a model with a higher resolution display. The 960 x 640 pixel screen resolution on my 3.5 inch iPod touch has me spoiled.
You can check out two brief hands-on videos I shot from the Apple store after the break. Sorry for the low video quality. You try holding a smartphone camera in one hand while testing a tablet under bright store lighting with the other.