Apple just made Xoom's road to success a lot harder, by announcing the iPad 2. Apple's big product announcement event today has garnered a ton of press, and rightly so. You'll never guess what they announced... A new iPad! Called the iPad 2! And guess what?! It has cameras!! It only took a year, but Apple has finally put out a tablet device that video creators and marketers can get behind, though some of the original device's shortcomings still exist for content creators.
What's New With The iPad 2
Cameras: The biggest reason I ripped the original iPad a year ago was the lack of a camera. At the time, I thought they were smoking something. And maybe they were, because the very next iteration of the device has not one, but two cameras.
I still have no idea why the original iPad was camera-free. Heck, pretty much every cell phone you could buy, even 7 or 8 years ago, had a camera on board as a standard feature. Why Apple thought it would be unnecessary is beyond me.
I guess that's water under the bridge. They certainly didn't have any trouble selling the device, even with its limitations--selling over 14 million in 2010. But the stampede of video's dominance can't be ignored forever.
The iPad 2 has two cameras, a front-facing camera and a standard rear camera. While no specific megapixel information has been released, the rear camera "will be good for 720p video capture". The front camera will be "VGA-quality" for video chat with programs like Facetime.
Speed: There's a dual-core A5 processor, which should double the computing power and provide nine times the graphics performance, according to Steve Jobs' presentation. That should be good news for those of us that watch a lot of video
Smaller Size: The iPad 2 is slimmer, slightly shorter, and more narrow. It's also lighter.
Color Choice: Apple says a white version of the iPad 2 will be available on the first day the device ships--which is March 11, 2011. Of course, they said similar things about a white iPhone, and that thing has gone the way of Sasquatch.
"Smart" Cover: There will apparently be a super-fancy magnetic cover that tells the tablet to turn on or shut down, depending on whether you're putting it on or taking it off. Which sounds kind of cool, actually.
HDMI Out: There's a new accessory for HDMI video-out that is capable of 108p video mirroring. This add-on also doubles as a charger if you plug it into an outlet while it's attached to your device. Sweet.
Video Editor: Jobs announced a new version of iMovie will be available in the app store on launch day--which is surely a reaction to Google's big announcement of Movie Studio--the Honeycomb video editor.
What's the Same?
Cost: It's $499 for the 16GB version, $599 for 32GB, and $699 for the 64GB model. 3G versions will cost a bit more, just like the first iPad.
Vendors: You can get the 3G versions through either AT&T or Verizon--same as the current iPad.
Screen Size: It's a 9.7-inch display, just like the original iPad, with a 1024 x 768 resolution.
Flash Support: Duh. Did you think Apple's war with Flash was over? It's not. Don't think any iPad will ever come with Flash support built in.
SD Slot: No SD slot for memory cards--the one big rumor everyone got wrong--and that's kind of a bummer.
Jobs touted the number of apps available for the iPad 2 (over 65,000) versus their latest competitor, the Motorola Xoom, which only has 100 or so apps. Of course, the Xoom is brand new. And it's probably worth reminding Jobs that the Xoom is launching with cameras and a video editor, something his device didn't have until its second generation. But I digress.
Is the iPad 2 a great device for video fans and creators? Yeah, it probably is. It's certainly better than the first iPad. But to be honest, I'm just not sure any tablet is a great main device for people who create video. There's still a lot of text-based tasks associated with video--writing a script, keywords and tags, captions, sitemaps, etc.--and I just don't think we've crossed the gap between physical keyboards and touch-screen keyboards just yet. I don't really want to do any writing on a tablet--iPad or otherwise.
And I'm still a little baffled at how serious video watchers are supposed to hold the device. It's made to be small enough to hold, but then I have to set it on a stand if I want to watch a movie, which makes it a lot more like a laptop, no? Definitely don't want to hold it out with my arms outstretched for long periods of time, or crane my neck to look at it as it lies flat on my lap.
But the cameras alone should put the device on your radar, if only because it signals that Apple is realizing how integral video is to the future of the web. The video editor is almost as welcome a piece of news as the cameras are. That means you can shoot and edit video on this device--and probably upload it to the web as well with any of a variety of apps.
This is the device we should have gotten last year, and Apple is probably lucky that no competitors swooped in with a comparable camera-equipped device anytime in the last 12 months.