The New Precious
When the iPad 2 was announced, I dragged my feet before upgrading. A new version of iOS had given my lowly iPad new spring in its step, and I tried to convince myself that the incremental speed, cameras, lighter weight and thinner profile weren’t all that important to me. Then I (finally) got to use one for a bit and I realized the error in my thinking. Though only incrementally improved in pretty much all aspects, in sum the iPad 2 was a marked improvement in daily usage over the original iPad. Especially in my use case, which is “all day every day.”
This time around, I drank my own cool aid straight away, neurotically refreshing multiple browser windows waiting for Apple’s online store to go live so that I could order – and thus receive – a New iPad as quickly as possible. I chose the full boat option as usual, a 64GB Black AT&T model. I would’ve gone to 128GB had it been available, alas. The cloud is a lovely place, but there’s no substitute for local storage.
FedEx pulled up on the 17th around mid day, giving me plenty of time to set things up ahead of the weekend. I easily transferred my grandfathered unlimited plan to the New iPad at the AT&T ipadlanding site, restored from an icloud backup, sync’d my local media and I was off to the races.
I’ve been using the New iPad as I usually use iPads which is to say pretty much non stop (yes, I have a problem). Most of the usual suspects have chimed in with full reviews, so as usual I will focus on my primary takeaways, pro and con.
– I’d been experiencing an increasing amount of lagginess on my iPad 2 under iOS, most noticeably in safari when selecting the address bar and trying to type a new URL. Safari also quit with annoying frequency. I can say without hesitation that the New iPad thus far shows no hesitation. The overall UE has returned to that sense of “instantaneous” which always seems to fade over time.
Apple’s actually created a bit of a conundrum for itself in this regard. In general, iOS devices are extremely snappy, and set an extremely high bar for expectations of responsiveness. Whether any lag actually present truly increases over time, or we simply perceive it to do so, I find myself constantly craving a reset of sorts, wherein the device returns to that sense of instantaneous responsiveness.
However, even cursory comparisons reveal some strange effect at work here. A freshly wiped original iPad, quick as the day it was born, feels – and is – incredibly laggy next to a New iPad. And I have no doubt that the IPad of 2014 will feel markedly quicker than the New iPad. I loves my original iPad and thought it the most responsive device I’d ever used. Now it feels like a Windows 95 era PC.
Said another way, these things are so wonderful, and work so well, that they constantly increase our expectations over time. Today’s snappy is tomorrow’s slug. The New iPad is snappy. For now! Whatever the benchmarks are saying, I can tell you without hesitation that in heavy use, the difference in speed between the New iPad and the iPad 2 is noticeable, appreciated, and worth the upgrade for me.
– The screen. Hailed by Apple as resolutionary, the New iPad’s screen is indeed a marvel. I end my days with less eyestrain in general and find reading on it in particular more enjoyable than I had previously. My eyesight is slowly deteriorating with age, but I can easily see the difference here. This screen is insanely gorgeous.
Cons (wait, only two pros?)
– Heat. Yup, this is a real issue. I noticed it in lite use even before loading it down with all my stuff. The lower left corner (which for me is lower right in my landscape positioning) feels obviously warm, if short of uncomfortably hot. Not a big problem per se, but make no mistake: Apple will address this in the Next iPad. I guarantee you they’re already working on better shielding for the next iteration of the device. Whether they can fix the New iPad via a software update remains to be seen. I would welcome a fix.
– Weight. Yup, the New iPad is heavier, and I notice it. I’ve built up a fair bit of muscle memory using the iPad as I do. I know precisely how it feels in different positions, in my hands, on my lap, etc. In my hands, I can ideentify the New iPad vs. the iPad 2 with my eyes closed. Yes, I tried.
It’s not “too heavy” and of course overall is comparable to the original iPad in weight. And I didn’t have a problem with the weight of the original iPad. In fact I hailed it as somewhat of a miracle! Still. It’s somewhat un-Apple for a new model to be heavier (and thicker…which I don’t notice as much) than a prior model.
– The front camera, which I am much more likely to use, hasn’t been upgraded. I’d take a 2MP front camera over the 5MP rear camera – which I pretty much never use – any time.
– No 128GB option.
– Dictation. Maybe it just takes practice, but I have to say that I’m not a fan of the dictation functionality. Don’t get me wrong, I love that Apple baked it into the keyboard at the system level, making it accessible from within any keyboard app. I just don’t love the way it works. You had to say period to end sentences (which makes writing the word ‘period’ something of a funny exercise). And forget parentheses, commas, quotation marks, etc. Try as I have, I can’t get the output to match my intended input in these kinds of cases. I find it sufficiently annoying that I am typing, rather than dictating this post. That should say it all. It gets words right on the whole, but not structure and grammar which are equally important obviously.
Should you upgrade? If you have an original iPad and like it, absolutely positively get the New iPad. It will rock your world. If you have an iPad 2 . . . the case is less clear cut for many users. IMHO, the incremental speed improvement will go unnoticed by most users. The screen however should be very noticeable to literally everyone. So check it out. If it makes you go wow then the answer is clear. If it makes you say meh then stick with the iPad 2.