iPad 2: Sensible choice, 32GB wifi with Smart Cover
After the iPad came into my life last May I had a number of negative issues which I wrote about at the time. It was on the heavy side--especially inside my leather Piel Frama folio case--and limited in terms of blog post preparation. So when my 11in MacBook Air came along later in the year I felt I could safely sell the tablet and rely entirely on the Air and iPhone.
This has been a successful partnership and I have felt very much in control and productive since October when I said goodbye to the iPad. As a result, I wasn't anticipating buying the iPad 2 and I am rather surprised to find my mind being changed on Wednesday as I watched the news unfolding. The changes for 2011, particularly the new thinness and lighter weight have caught my imagination. Strangely, too, the magnetic Smart Covers solve a major problem and add an incentive to buy the device. The covers give us screen protection and a built-in, versatile stand without adding significantly to weight.
An iPad cannot replace my MacBook Air, but it can become my media-browsing device of choice. It can even become my preferred book reader since, quite frankly, I have not really taken to the Kindle. Despite the wonders of the Kindle, I keep coming back to the iPhone (which is currently my only alternative other than the Air) simply because I find the backlit screen easier on the eye. I have another reason to get back to the iPad world: the excellence of the OmniFocus project management app. As a daily planning tool it knocks spots off Omni's iPhone version and is much more fun to use than the OS X desktop application.
All that remains is to choose a model. Here in Europe we don't have the added complication of the Verizon versions, so we're looking at a mere twelve possibilities: four each in 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB configurations. Personally, I wouldn't consider the 16 GB versions because the storage is just too limited and I suspect most buyers will take that view. On the other hand, I use only half of the 32 GB memory on my iPhone, so I judge that 32 GB will be about right. Last time I went for the 64 GB 3G model but used only a fraction of the memory. Since then I've adopted Spotify streaming and no longer want to sync my entire iTunes library to an iPad.
While I think I will be more than covered by 32 GB of storage, I have no doubt that many others will want to max out the space for movies, music and photographs, so the 64 GB versions will also be very popular. I suspect, however, that the main interest will be in the middle storage devices.
The big decision is whether to go for wifi only or the more expensive wifi/3G model. Last year I was convinced I wanted a 3G model because I saw the iPad as my main on-the-road computer (in which it failed). I was therefore happy to take out a separate data contract just for the iPad. Since then, with the advent of the MacBook Air, I will need internet on three devices and I don't want or need three separate data contracts.
With mini-router capabilities coming to the iPhone 4 next Friday, my first choice will be to try out the new system and discover whether it is a better solution than a separate router such as the MiFi. As a result of all this deliberation, I will go for the wifi-only iPad with a 32GB memory. If the iPhone wifi router works as advertised, I will pay for extra bandwidth on the phone and discontinue my second data contract. That way I will be able to use the same internet connection for phone, iPad and Air.
As a frequent traveller, especially within Europe, a single data contract will cut down cost and avoid too much SIM swopping. At the moment I have two contracts in the UK, two in Greece and pay-as-you-go data cards several in other countries.
Black and white
Now for the big choice: Black or white. I was initially attracted by the idea of white, simply because it's something new and looked smart during the presentations. But Ben Brooks of The Brooks Review has come up with an interesting reason not to go for white: a white border when viewing a movie can be distracting. Still, I'm not 100 percent convinced and I shall procrastinate right up to the cash till.
Smart Cover System
I see the new Smart Covers as an essential accessory and will certainly be adding one to my purchase. The concept of a magnetic hinge is brilliant and is an advance on the excellent Kindle system which involves small clips on the cover fitting into slots in the side of the device. Marco Arment, the developer of Instapaper, has a lot of positive things to say on this subject in his blog post on March 3. He makes a very valid point that I appreciate only too well. Like me, he bought a Piel Frama leather folio case for his iPad 1. As a result we both ended up with a device that weighed not 1.5 pounds but closer to 2.5. The brilliance of the new Apple Smart Cover design is that it adds very little weight and bulk to the new slimmer, lighter iPad. So, with luck, an iPad 2 with cover will weigh no more than a naked iPad 1.
So these are my current thoughts. Of course, the iPad 2 could be so popular that I'll have to take whatever I can get in order to avoid waiting. Maybe this time next month I will still be waiting to get my hands on one, but I hope not.