Product reviews are generally all about being the first out of the gate or second-wave expansions of detail and insight. But it’s also worth looking at products after they have some dents and bruises from heavy long-term use, and my iPad2 has some dents and bruises.
It’s a 3G 16GB model.
Here’s what it’s good for:
- Time tracking and reporting
- Astronomical charts
- Email in a larger format than a phone
- Signing and annotating documents
- Creating documents to sign and annotate
- Google maps
- Nautical charts
- Skype on the fly (not any more – mic stopped working a year ago)
- Portable video viewer – bigger than a phone
What it’s not so good for:
- Writing / editing lengthy documents
- Typing – even with a decent Bluetooth keyboard
- Video editing
- Skype on the fly – now that the mic stopped working
- Email storage – it’s really limited if you’re a heavy user
- Email management – GRRRRR! – too small, poor search
- Being spied on by Apple and some app developers
- Safari in general
- Calendar and duplicate entries
Would I buy it again if there was time travel? Probably. It’s still running, is used daily, and is a fairly good consumption tablet. Production not so much, though that’s partly the a weakness of the tablet platform.
Size does matter, after all. That’s why newspapers and magazines used to put their pages up on a wall or on long shelves for layout and design. (And someone’s now doing it with monitors and I’m betting the design folks are going to go back to the big desk approach as soon as they can pry the money out of management.)
When you’re dealing with large amounts of data, trying to work on a cellphone-sized screen is like working through a keyhole. An iPad just feels like a somewhat larger keyhole.
The apps that have lasted:
- HoursTracker – track multiple projects for multiple clients simultaneously and spit out spreadsheet-formatted reports via email – awesome
- Notability – mark up PDFs and images with your finger tip, sign contracts and email them from the app – seriously useful tool
- Planets – want to see where Jupiter is or the name of that constellation? in real time? gets a WOW every time
- Flashlight – including a keyable green (for video)
- AR.FreeFlight – for flying a small, dual camera drop helicopter
- Clock Pro – superb full featured timer app (stopwatch, countdown, various time zones, etc.)
- Find iPhone – required
- Keynote – for creating (if no other choice) and displaying slide decks
- iTunes U – one of the world’s best travel companions – load up some audio / video learning for travel
- CBC Radio – limited time travel that lets me catch shows played west of here that conflict with things I’m doing when they run locally
I’ve also made heavy use of a Blackberry Playbook, and have occasional use of an Android tablet, so have had an opportunity to compare. Playbook has THE best camera / mic of the bunch, and the crispest screen. But time tracking – a critical feature for me – just wasn’t there so it moved on.
I didn’t feel any need to upgrade to the iPad that should be called the 3.
And if the iPad has given me anything significant to take away from the experience is the immersive power of touch. After a month-long experiment of using the iPad2 pretty much exclusively, I was both ready to toss it into the lake and kept trying to use touch on non-touch enabled computers.
My next desktop / laptop monitors will definitely be touch enabled. While I don’t like onscreen keyboards one bit – few touch typists do – touch-enabled screens let you do a lot of very neat things with your hands directly on the user interface.
And dictation software is improving. It’s not an option in noisy environments and if you type quickly, it’s often faster to type than to talk and then correct.
But at the end of it all, a tablet is pretty much a tablet with both product-specific and general strengths and weakness. I’d give the iPad2 7.5 out of 10.