When I first purchased an iPad last year I had no idea just how useful it would be. Amongst many other uses, I use it to write my PhD chapters, annotate readings, give presentations, browse the web and read books. I also use it to watch television, particularly live ice hockey, and film. The ability to stream content from my mediaserver has been an added bonus. I am even using the Posterous app to write this blog post. Without doubt, the iPad has been one of the best purchases I ever made. For everyday tasks, the benefits of tablet computing is very easy to see.
A little over a week ago, Apple released the second generation iPad, the iPad 2. Initially, I had no intention of purchasing it, preferring to wait for the third generation which is rumoured to be released later this year. I thought that the new additions would not be enough to warrant an upgrade. Then, admittedly, I got sucked into the manufactured hype. I realised that I would be able to sell my current iPad to my buddy Sam and that would help to fund an iPad 2. A thinner and lighter iPad would also be useful for my upcoming journey to Italy. And, considering how much use I get out of the device, I thought that the improved processing speed would be a welcome bonus.
I had initially thought that I would get an iPad 2 on launch day. But after hearing of the queues I decided against it, there is no way that I would sit in a queue for eight hours to buy something. Following a thread on the excellent AV Forums where people posted updates on UK stock, against my better judgement I decided to place an order from PC World. Now, I consider PC World to be one of the worst retailers but chose to make an exception. An order was placed with the last Sunday. Emails quickly followed telling me that my order was accepted and stock had been allocated. Money was also taken from my card. Good news? Most certainly not. A phone call to them on Monday resulted in me being no clearer as to whether I would get one.
Then, after hearing that there would be no UK stock until mid April, and therefore not being able to get one till after my holiday, I purchased a white version from John Lewis online. It sounds pedantic, but I prefer the black version as I find it helps having black borders when watching films. I was happy to settle with white if it meant I could get one in time for my holiday. I also thought that if PC World could get the black model to me in time, I could always return it. John Lewis’ service was impeccable. I collected it the following morning with no fuss. Then, on Thursday evening, I was able to reserve a black 32GB model using the Apple website and collected it the following day. By this point I was fed up with PC World’s poor communication, false promises and their taking of my money before dispatching the item. I was able to cancel the PC World order on Friday and return the white model to John Lewis.
This may sound like a lot of fuss but the whole experience was quite exciting. I suppose it is just another extension of my OCD. From a researchers viewpoint, it is very interesting to see how Apple have been able to manufacture demand. iPads are available, if you use Apple’s reservation system which is live at 9pm of every night you can obtain one quite easily. The media is used cleverly to increase demand and desire for the item.
So what about the new iPad? Was it worth the effort? Most definitely. The improved speed is obvious. Apps load faster, processing times are quicker and the web browsing experience is a major improvement. The size and weight is also better. I never found the previous one to be uncomfortable but this one is noticeably lighter. The front and rear cameras will not be of great use to me, after all I cannot see me using the iPad to take pictures, but I can see me using them for video conferencing once Skype release an app for the iPad. The only real disappointment is the smart cover. I do like its minimalist design but I am not sure sure about its practicality. Unlike the old cover, there is no protection to the back of the iPad and it has a tendency to leave streaks on the front. I will be tempted to buy one of the many third party covers that are slowly being released. One design uses the same cover as the smart cover but also provides protection for rear. I was able to buy an excellent neoprene case from Amazon for £7 to house the iPad while in transit and to give the shell more protection.
For those still looking to buy an iPad 2 either join the AV Forums iPad 2 stock watch thread or go to the stock reservation page on the Apple store website at 9pm every evening, locate your local Apple store and reserve your choice of iPad. Avoid PC World at all costs.