Five to Ten Minutes with an iPad2: A review

As a previously sanctioned iPad expert, I felt obligated to at least go and check out the iPad 2 in the Apple store today.  Now, if you want a long, detailed, and smart review of the new iPad 2, go read this piece at Engadget. But if you want my five to ten minute thoughts, read on.

First off, I showed up at the Apple Store in Briarwood at 10:30-ish or so and there was a line out front.  Am I going to have to stand in line to go into the fracking store?!? I thought.  Happily, no; this was for people who were planning hoping to buy one today.  More on that in a sec.

Anyway, that problem solved, I went in and started playing with a white iPad 2 (if I get one, I might go with white).  True, it’s thinner and lighter than the original iPad, but not that noticeably so, in my view.  It was noticeably faster with the new processing chip, though most of the apps I monkeyed with were the same on this as iPad 1.

From my point of view, the two big differences with this new one are GarageBand and iMovie.  I downloaded GarageBand for my current iPad just the other day, and it is a complete hoot to play with.  Now, I have no musical talent whatsoever and no real knowledge of audio recording technology.  The only thing I can do with GarageBand on my computer is record podcasts and other audio note/response recordings along those lines, and for all I know, the GarageBand for the iPad is, relative to these other tools, crap.  But it seems pretty powerful to me.

iMovie will not (apparently) work on the first generation iPads, and this might be the thing that really pushes me into the iPad 2.  It’s kind of a shame because recording video from another source and importing it to the first gen iPad seems like it would be a workable solution to me.  Anyway, frrom what I can tell, iMovie for the iPad is a lot like all of the other apps for the iPad (and this includes GarageBand, I assume):  they might be better called “lite” versions of the desktop software because they are just that, stripped-down versions.  I know more about iMovie than I do about GarageBand, and this was very clear in the few minutes I spent on it.

Oh yeah, and there are the cameras too.  Here’s 13 seconds of video I took:

The first lesson learned here is that it is perhaps best to video in landscape mode, but you get the idea. I don’t know if there is a way to zoom with this video, but I suspect there is, and I know that I could have cropped it in different ways in iMovie, either on the iPad or exported to the full version on a computer.

One other thing I learned in my 10 minutes:  those snazzy magnetic covers that are available with iPad2 don’t work with the original iPad, which is a bummer.

Will it be worth getting one?  Well, depending on how the rest of birthmonth works out, sure, I think so.  Though it might be tricky.  It turns out the store was sold out of them, and one of the guys working there told me that people were waiting there in the hopes that maybe– just maybe— there were some iPad2 in the shipment that was due to arrive any minute.  Jeez, it’s like trying to get a Wii all over again.  On the Apple web site, they’re saying 3-4 weeks for shipping.

To me, the real usefulness of these things for me are potentially in teaching, especially when it comes to things like the movie project I have students do in English 328, the “media authoring” course I’m trying to get off the ground at the graduate level, and/or the kind of simple multimedia projects students do in first year writing.  Basically, for $500 for the iPad2 itself and another $100 or so worth of software and maybe some other add-ins (a microphone, for example), you’ve got a device that can take (so-so) photos, record audio (including an instrument plugged into it), and record HD video.  And with iMovie, GarageBand, and Pages, you’ve got a pretty powerful and simple multimedia platform that is damn near perfect for teaching and the enthusiastic amateur.  And it all weighs less than a pound and has a 10 hour battery life.   Whoa.

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