I originally posted this on gdgt, read and comment here.
In the weeks leading up to the iPad 2 announcement, I clung to a rather steadfast belief that I wasn’t going to be interested in iPad 2. “My iPad is perfectly fine,” I thought, “besides, probably no retina display, slightly faster processor, and maybe a FaceTime camera — big deal!”
I thought about how I would justify this in my head and how it would sound to my friends, all of whom expect me to have whatever the latest and greatest Apple device is. I even thought of the perfect analogy.
This upgrade was going to be akin to the iPhone 3G to iPhone 3GS upgrade (interestingly, that’s the argument I’m currently telling myself for the potential iPhone 4 to “iPhone 5” upgrade). More evolutionary than revolutionary, no must have features, pretty much the same design. Did I *really* need to upgrade back then? Probably not.
Anyway, here’s why I thought that was an apropos analogy:
At the time (a month or so ago), based on what all the conventional rumors were saying, the iPad update wasn’t going to be that impressive. Same screen, mostly same form factor, potentially two cameras (FaceTime – yay?), new CPU and increased RAM. The two cameras rumor, I didn’t really care about. Besides, how many times have I used FaceTime? Probably once, and that was to test it out. What I wanted was more RAM and maybe a better display.
So, March 2nd, 2011 arrives and Steve Jobs strolls out of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and surprises everyone. He launches into the standard Apple press event and highlights numbers of apps they’ve sold, misquotes various competitors, and uses almost every synonym related to the word “magical.”
Finally, he announces the iPad 2 and its feature set.
– Same enchanted display
– Magical A5 dual core processor
– 9x otherworldly graphics performance
– Conjuringly thin design
– Spectral battery life
– Wizardly cameras*!
* Notice, like the iPod touch 4th-gen keynote (a device which was renowned for just how crappy its cameras were), Steve made zero mention of the number of megapixels iPad cameras were capable of. Contrast that with iPhone 4, which literally had an order of magnitude more megapixels, Steve couldn’t say “5 megapixels” enough times and tout the phone’s ability to take pictures. And believe me, I love the photos that phone takes.
Anyway, I quickly fell under the influence of the infamous RDF. I wanted one. Needed it even. My current generation iPad instantly looked obsolete. It smelled obsolete. Just using it seemed to hurt my technology street cred.
Here at gdgt HQ, we discussed who would be waiting in line at the Apple Store next Friday and when we should go. Interestingly enough, one person who had an iPad wasn’t excited about it at all. Two others who didn’t have iPads were eventually persuaded / convinced that they needed them. I was all about it. Another remained irrationally committed to his singular cause of being the only person in San Francisco that would eventually own an Android tablet (subject to price and availability, of course).
So, for the last week, I’ve been all about iPad 2. I couldn’t wait for it to arrive. I stressed about how early I should wait in line. I thought about how awesome it will be to use while I’m in Austin for SXSW and our gdgt live event.
And tonight, it all just suddenly changed. The iPad 2 embargo is up, so all the major news organizations and tech publications have posted their detailed reviews of the device. They love it. It’s even faster. Feels good to hold. It still sets the bar for any tablet coming out.
One thing everyone seems to agree on though, is that it’s a brilliant device for people new to tablets or otherwise buying their first iPad. For people who already own an iPad, it’s a tossup. There’s definite speed improvements, and more RAM is great in apps like Safari, but it doesn’t offer much otherwise.
And that’s the feeling I can’t shake. This iPhone 3G to iPhone 3GS analogy. Using my iPad tonight (with iOS 4.3), Safari is still fast and mostly responsive. Yeah, the meager amount of RAM in the device means I still lose webpages when I switch tabs, but do I really want to drop another $600 for the device for that reason alone? Probably not.
So, I might sit this round out. I’m not urging or suggesting anyone else do the same, I’m just reflecting on my own thought process over the past few months. For someone with a massive case of gadget envy and weak defenses to the RDF, it’s been a wild roller coaster ride.
So, what will you do? Are you still excited about getting one? Has your enthusiasm been tempered for one reason or another? In the market for something else?
1. I’m completely aware of the possibility that once we get a review unit in the office, all bets are out the window. I might want one all over again, and just as bad, if not more so.
2. I realize the possibility that some new app or game will come out to take advantage of the features. For example, if they somehow come out with a better version of Civilization that runs better on the new iPad, it’s over. Goodbye. See you later.
3. There are social pressures as well. If my friends, my significant other, or even my parents get one, well we can’t have that now, can we. (Honestly, we probably can. It’s a ridiculous justification.)
Anyway, stay tuned for my post tomorrow, where I write a thousand word essay on why I’ll probably be camping out overnight to get an iPad 2.