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.

4 thoughts on “Five to Ten Minutes with an iPad2: A review”

  1. I played with an iPad 2 for a few minutes today. It did feel lighter. My iPod Touch 4 also has HD recording, and I think also it will run iMovie. The screen is, of course, not as nice, but it’s much more convenient to snap (mediocre) photos with the iPod. All full-rime students and all more-than-halftime faculty got iPads last year. This fall new students will get iPad2s, but I think they are being reasonable about not upgrading all faculty iPads. The benefit would be very small.

  2. Oh, man. A split between two of my favorite computers/writing techn-commentators! (among, of course, Alex Reid, Brian McNely, and James Shirmer) I’ve been on the fence about this iPad for a while. Stephen’s observations about how it facilitates a certain type of interaction with students is pretty compelling. And I promised myself long ago, that I would commit to investing in early-adopter technologies. And now that the iPad has still/video cameras (yeah, crappy, though), there’s just no reason to think this thing isn’t all set to break out as a content-creation device. That said, it’s not a lot more than an expensive upgrade the from iPad I’ve already got. And Dennis is right about the already-existing functionality of my iPhone 4. Hmmmm. And it’s not “primarily” about the money. I started saving for this little guy months ago. And I’ve got enough to get the model that I want. (64GB, Wifi-only, with adapter for SD card) I’m just not sure.

    I told myself I wanted a pair of cameras, lighter weight, better screen, and a bit more speed. The screen isn’t any different. That’s disappointing. And the cameras seem almost annoyingly bad. Lighter weight. More speed. Okay, let’s say two and a half out of 4. But the most important, to me, were the screen and camera quality. Darn it. Oh, and my current 32GB model can sometime, surprisingly, get a bit smallish; this will only get worse with photo and video capabilities. Hmm. Apple seems to have judged the improvement/price ratio pretty well.
    Here’s a bad habit I have with tech. When I WANT something, I have a habit of telling myself stories about how I will use it. In order to justify the purchase. The thing is, I almost always use the stuff for the stories I’ve concocted for myself. It would be easier if I could tell myself that my mind is playing tricks on me.

    So there are three questions I have to ask myself.

    1. What would I want to learn from existing with this new device? What are my “experience” questions?
    2. What stories have I concocted for myself? How do I see myself using this thing?
    3. How will this device improve my existing practices? Will it facilitate new ones? Will it eliminate old ones? Will it make me more efficient? More distracted?

    The answers, to be honest, are fluid. And unique to each person asking them. I’m not yet ready to jump online and snag one, but I’m close. I would love to hear more from the two of you (or from other readers/commenters) about how they’re actually USING their iPad 2, once they’re released into the wild in a few weeks, especially in the context of writing studies, composition, and the digital humanities.

    Thanks again for such a thoughtful post and comment.

    Looking forward to reading more soon.



  3. Erin and I looked at iPads in the Chicago Apple Store the other day. Pretty cool. But am I right that there’s no implementation of multiple users in the iOS?

    FWIW, Apple is now showing orders ship in 4-5 weeks.

  4. Bradley, as far as I can tell iOS does indeed not have a multiple user option, which I do agree I find curious especially in relation to the iPad. It’d be nice to have that as a feature.

    Trauman, I have to say that I go back and forth on buying one just for me– though I probably will, even with the delays– but I do think new new one is a game-changer for its potential in a classroom. It’s curious to note what difference a couple cameras make, but I do think it makes these things much more interesting low-end multimedia devices.

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