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iPad 2: What Steve Jobs Got Right -- and Wrong


Apple's new iPad has arrived, and it's called -- drumroll, please -- the iPad Max! No, just kidding, it's the iPad 2. But I'd say it's more like iPad 1.1, as Apple made just a smattering of minor improvements to the storied tablet.

In fact, I daresay this is one of Apple's most disappointing product launches to date, as the iPad 2's changes are decidedly evolutionary -- and we expect Apple to give us revolutionary. Here's my rundown on where the company made smart moves, and where it whiffed.

What Apple Got Right

Dual cameras. The iPhone 4 and FaceTime proved (to my surprise) that phone-based videoconferencing can work really well. With the iPad's much larger screen, it can work really well in a conference-room environment. This could give the iPad 2 a major push into the business world.

Size. The iPad 2 is 33 percent thinner than its predecessor, and actually thinner than the iPhone 4. That's a big improvement, as the original iPad has always seemed chunky to me.

HDMI out. If you want to use the iPad to drive business presentations, it'll be much easier now that you get mirrored video out -- which shows everything that's on the screen, not just video from specific apps. And it's 1080p! But you'll need a $39 accessory to enjoy it.

Smart Covers. Amazingly, the most inventive thing about the iPad 2 is a new accessory. True to its name, the Smart Cover is pretty ingenious, using magnets to hook onto the side of the tablet and a folding design that turns it into both a keyboard stand and a video/FaceTime stand.

What Apple Got Wrong

Price. The iPad is a year old now, and Apple still hasn't budged one penny on price. I'm sorry, but $500 is just too expensive for a tablet -- to say nothing of the models that cost hundreds more. Apple is raking in cash hand over foot; the company couldn't afford, say, a $100 price cut? As a card-carrying cheapskate, I'm seriously disappointed by this.

No new ports. Many users had been hoping for a second dock connector. But any chance of using a docked iPad in landscape mode more or less went out the window. And the rumored SD slot and USB port? Both no-shows.

Weight. The iPad 2 weighs 1.3 pounds, down from 1.5. That still makes for a heavy, sometimes unwieldy device. Maybe I'm spoiled by my Kindle, but I want the iPad to be less tiring to hold for long periods.

Focus on speed. I may sound nuts for knocking the new dual-core processor, but to me this is a low-priority item. Make that no-priority: I've never once felt that my iPad 1 was too slow. And I'm not sure what's to be gained by beefing up the processor, other than generating more heat and reducing battery life (even though Apple claims it will remain the same). I just wish Apple had focused its hardware efforts elsewhere -- or kept the same processor and lowered the price tag.

By the way, I intentionally left out iOS 4.3-specific features, as most of them aren't limited to the iPad 2. I should also note that for all my griping about the new model, it won't matter: it'll still be a huge seller.

What do you think of the iPad 2? Are there enough new features to stoke your gadget lust? Or do you agree that it's pretty underwhelming? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments!

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