Yesterday I waited 5 hours in line to get my hands on a new iPad 2.
Having owned the original iPad for almost a year now, the iPad has been an integral part of my life workflow. I use it to gorge on RSS feeds, keeping up on the latest news and loved it for reading books. Despite what Amazon would tell you, the iPad is a wonderful eBook reader. Most people don't live at the beach or spend most of their time outdoors, so the fact that you can't read very well in the open sunlight is not an issue at all.
If you're a previous owner of the iPad, you will instantly feel the weight difference, even when you strip the original iPad from any covers. The new one is thinner, doesn't have the rounded backing that the original had, and is much more comfortable to the grip. This thing is so thin and light that I often think I'm going to break the thing in two, even though it is made with tempered glass and aluminum. This is the stuff that Star Trek is made of. Seriously.
All around it is an awesome upgrade to already great device.
Now to the not-so-good stuff. With such a nice, svelte device that seemingly spared no expense in design, I really have to ask Apple: WHY DID YOU SKIMP ON THE CAMERAS?! Though Apple would have you believe that the cameras are more geared towards video (which they are), why they would constrain their use to the use only is beyond me. They included the Camera and Photo Booth apps, so they really do want you to take stills with it, but the quality of the resultant images is absolutely horrible. I liken it to buying a super expensive sports car, only to find out that the stereo system only included an 8-track deck in it. But even that metaphor doesn't work because you could take it to an audio dealer and have them upgrade it for a nominal fee. No such luck with iPad 2 in this regard, I guess we'll have to wait until next year.
This is a great device and despite one royal screw up, I highly recommend picking one up.
The Smart Cover
Despite all the rave reviews for Apple's new accessory for keeping your screen covered when not in use, I'm not sure I like it that much. It is quite 'magical' how it latches on and everything, but there are a few things that are bothersome to me.
I am accustomed to having the cover fold back nice and neat when I actually need to use the device. Because the Smart Cover is segmented such that it can be rolled up and used as an impromptu stand, it really doesn't fold back nice when needing to actually use your iPad. The magnetic backing is supposed to latch on when it's folded back, but the connection is so weak that you have a dangling flap any time that you're using it. This is very annoying.
Another problem is that while the cover fits absolutely perfect while covering the front of the iPad, it does not handle so well when flipped back. The backing of the iPad has a bit of rounding to it and so the back never really stays stiff and instead tries to round to the contour of the device. it slides back and forth as you are typing and is not very comfortable. You can just as easily take it off the iPad when using it, but since I am often using my device while walking to another location at work, it kinda defeats the purpose of having it.
While I applaud Apple with coming up with an accessory that is both interesting and attractive, its shortcomings really do glare when you need to use it. I find the whole latching mechanism to be ingenious, but at the end of the day, it mostly feels gimmicky to me. Ultimately, you're going to have to try this for yourself, but do it at the Apple Store to make sure this is something you'll really use and be comfortable with.
For me, I might be taking it back.