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Winner Winner Chicken Dinner
Competitions. We all love them. No-one actually wins them. And when they do, it’s an all-expenses paid trip to your local pub that doesn’t actually include travel and only one type of beer. Imagine my surprise when recently I won an Ipad 2 in a contest at work! I wasn’t immediately ecstatic, not because I wasn’t happy – I was… honest! It’s just that I have always been a little bit Anti-Apple. No, not because their leader wore horrid turtle neck sweaters (that’s another story) it was purely due to the cost of their products. So this review covers the workings of an Apple IPAD 2 and possibly a grumble or two about the pricing structure of Apple products.
The minute you walked in the joint
The box arrived at work and once I had got the ugly cardboard royal mail packaging off (brown? Not fabulous!), it revealed a lovely sleek white apple box with lovely packaging inside which was clinging like a well fitted dress onto each part of the device to prevent damage – I was impressed at their packaging (keep reading, I will talk about the device soon, I promise!) Within said packaging there was an operating manual, a plug (in 2 parts as one part is the USB cable) and the IPAD 2 itself. As I took the IPAD2 out of the box I tried to down play my happiness to the jealous people around me – I was smiling pretty hard on the inside. And possibly the outside. Hell, I’d just won an effing IPAD!
Much to my delight the IPAD didn’t need charged immediately; it came with about 70% charge on the battery which meant I was able to play with it straight away. It’s almost like they thought of these things in advance!
The setup was also quick and easy: Once turned on for the first time, the screen comes to life and provides an simple to understand “setup guide” which you tap, click or otherwise fondle (whatever you want to call it) through to setup the various features.
Let’s do the time warp again
The date and time set up is easy as hell as long as you have a clock and know the date. Unlike my mobile, you DO have to set it manually to start with, but really, that’s hardly an issue. Check one of your other devices and I’m sure that won’t be a problem for very long.
You got Wires going in
The wireless setup is quick and painless and the range is more than adequate making it easy to stay connected throughout the house (though I suppose that’s an issue of a bygone era!). If you really want, you can pay someone like Vodafone or O2 extortionate amounts of money and get one with 3G mobile internet, however my model didn’t come with that so I can’t really comment on it. Despite having no 3G it DOES come with some form of GPS which comes in really handy if you want to use your IPAD as a giant sat nav. You can also set up the location function (if you don’t mind apple knowing where you are at all times) which could help tailor search results online to your local area.
Letters to you
The Keyboard will appear automatically when you fondle a text bearing box. It is a QWERTY keyboard (because that’s just the way life works now!) You do need to click another button on the keyboard to make the numbers and symbols appear which, frankly, is daft. The screen is big enough to fit it all in when you are using it sideways and longways (because, like most things now-a-days, you can use it in whichever direction you want, including upside down if you really want to stand apart from the crowd.) You can also purchase a keyboard to plug into your IPAD2 if you can’t stand to use the one on-screen, but I think that kind of defeats the point in owning an IPAD. If apple are hoping the IPAD2 is going to become a replacement for desktop computers…well… I’d say no chance of that happening just yet.
Head in the Clouds
The Cloud, rather than being a ridiculously exclusive gay bar, is a fun little function which allows all of your information, pictures and / or / other to upload to a central server. If you are … “lucky” … enough to own more than one apple product or cloud enabled device, you will instantly be able to access everything about you on every other device you own. Apparently, (said a turtle-necker) “it just works”. Hmm. It does work. It also takes either a heap tonne of bravery, or a large amount of stupidity to allow that much access to your personal information. I mean, come on, apple will clearly be on the Terminators side when they come.
I wanna touch ya and take your picture
There are two cameras on the device, one on the front, one on the back. They are both really good quality as they record in HD at 720 pixels. It also has a 5x digital zoom, not that I’ve needed to take any far away ninja type shots. Personally I’ve been using them to recording videos and take pictures a bit closer up. It’s also good for video chatting to my family in Portugal through the app facetime but you can download “Skype” if you are that way inclined. I would say that the camera function is a bit awkward to use for pictures since the IPad is quite big, so you really need two hands to hold it and another to push the button. All good if you are blessed with three hands, but most of us aren’t.
As for the actual internals of this little machine, they are also great; you will struggle to lag the device down because there is enough memory/processing power contained inside to launch a rocket to the moon. I’m not sure if you’ll get back again since the battery life is ten hours if you are being a bit over zealous in your use, but I’m sure the free-fall will be fun.
So far it seems the IPAD2 is actually worth the hype that the apple fan-bois spew constantly at people, which hurts me to admit. The screen is very responsive; you barely need to touch it for it to jump to life – it’s totally effortless. It comes pre-loaded with all the basic software or apps (as apple like to call them) you will need to begin with i.e. Internet Browser, Email Client, Memo Function, Music Player, Gallery… the list goes on.
You can purchase or download an absolute tonne of apps for free from the App Store – It contains thousands of games, business apps, Google earth/docs etc. which can all help your experience become something awesome. If you really want to spend more money there are also other apps that you can pay for. Personally I think free is best! The thing that stands out most for me is the battery – One full charge can last for days and the only thing I have found so far that drains the battery, understandably is Netflix, an internet movie streaming app. Throw in the brilliant sound quality that the speakers give off (seriously, it’s better than my boyfriend’s laptop) and you have a fantastic little device in your hands.
Now that we’ve covered all the good points, time for me to grumble! The main bad point for me, as always when talking about Apple products is simply the cost – I will never understand why people are willing to fork out so much money when there are other devices out there that can do the same things for half the price.
Enthusiasts will simply answer this question with “It’s Apple and I like it”. Keeping in mind that I *won* my Ipad, I didn’t and would never pay what apple are wanting for them – My unit costs £399.00 which gives a 16GB model (the space you can store your stuff on in the unit – this is quite a low amount of storage space) this rises to £479.00 for a 32GB and a whopping £559.00 for a 64GB version. Anyone that knows about technology knows that storage space does not cost that much so there is no justification for the high prices. Just as an example you can get another tablet with 32GB of storage for just £317, which is a whole £82 cheaper and a whole 16GB of storage more than the model I have.
The Bad. Again.
Another bizarre moment for apple: IPAD2 doesn’t support adobe flash player. This is used for things like YouTube videos, which apple gets around by providing a YouTube app which will stream to your Ipad. This work around is good for YouTube but not for other simple everyday things like playing an online game in your browser (i.e. Facebook’s Farmville or National Lottery’s online scratch cards – these games will not play on the IPAD and there is no intention to change this any time soon).
Further oddities occur around Torrents (which are a popular way for people to download content from the internet). Apple has not allowed any programs that contain support for downloading content onto its App Store, so if you wanted to use torrents, it’s not possible. This mean that you are stuck with the apps that Apple have approved, which can mean missing out on some brilliant Android apps/ features that other devices have no issues with. On a technicality, however, this does mean that Apples app store is more secure in the products it presents.
Do you love me?
Despite the cost and the lack of torrent and flash support, I do actually like my Ipad and wouldn’t trade it in for anything else. It’s sleek, sexy and does most of what I need it to. I do still need to use my windows laptop for some things though. If you have the money, I would (grudgingly) recommend getting an IPAD2, however if flash is important to your daily activities, stay clear and get a windows tablet instead. It will save you some money and give you more freedom with your apps if you desire it. Overall, a really good product from a really annoying company.