Apple iPad 2: Why I'm hitting the Amex again

Apple iPad 2: Why I'm hitting the Amex again

Summary: Apple's new iPad 2 has me reaching into my wallet to upgrade to the new version of their flagship tablet. Here's why I'm becoming a repeat customer.


Apple's new iPad 2 has me reaching into my wallet to upgrade to the new version of their flagship tablet. Here's why I'm becoming a repeat customer.

Ah, the tides of spring. April showers, blooming flowers. New iPads. $500 dents on my AMEX card.

As an original iPad owner, I was fairly certain this morning I was going to pass on the iPad 2. After all, the rumor mill late yesterday had suggested this was only a minor upgrade.

If you consider the addition of a dual core processor, significantly improved graphics performance, front and rear cameras, HDMI output and a much thinner design as a minor upgrade, then maybe you should pass on this one if you already own an iPad.

Indeed, I've been watching the tablet landscape quite a bit since I bought my first iPad just over a year ago. I've seen all the competitors announce and delay products.

I was genuinely looking forward to Android 3.0-based systems. I was legitimately considering buying something else this go-around, or maybe even sticking with what I've got, and perhaps handing the iPad over to my wife.

But I've become comfortable with my iPad. It's like a warm and fuzzy blanket I reach for. It's a weird thing to say about a bundle of silicon and aircraft aluminum, but I really love the thing. Call me a fanboi, but there isn't another comparable product I'd rather use right now.

Yet again, Apple has set the bar for what feature set a tablet should have and what it should cost.  I've discussed this at length before -- there isn't a single manufacturer operating in this space that can match Apple due to massive advantages the company has in supply chain management.

I mean seriously, who can afford to make devices out of aircraft aluminum, with custom-designed microprocessors and with the bundle of features that this device ships with for a measly $500.00 on a base model? Nobody.

So, back to the upgrade. I really like my current iPad, but I want more memory and CPU and graphics horsepower. Apple hasn't disclosed how much RAM the iPad 2 has, but it has to be double what the current device has, at a bare minimum. I'd sure like it to have 1GB, but I could work with 512MB which is twice that of the original model, which has 256MB.

We won't know until someone has done an X-Ray job on the new dual-core PoP A5 SoC, but it has to have at least as much as an iPhone 4 does, which is 512MB.

A faster processor, improved integrated graphics and a larger amount of memory were the three big things I focused on in my crystal-ball piece about iPad 2 that I wrote about back in July. These three things for me alone are worth the price of admission. Everything else, such as the dual cameras, the gyroscope, and the thinner, lighter design are pretty much gravy.

And in my opinion, this is a lot of gravy.

[Next: The Power of HDMI Compells Me!]»

In my original "Next Generation iPad" piece, I also mentioned the HDMI output as being an important addition. There's a bunch of reasons why I think this is significant on the new model.

First, unlike the original device, the new HDMI accessory allows you to "Mirror" in the actions of ALL of the applications running on your iPad onto a larger HD screen, not just output (up to full 1080p) video from selected apps as on the original VGA cable accessory, which I considered to be next to worthless.

[UPDATE: It appears the new HDMI accessory will work with iPad 1 and even iPhone 4/IPod Touch with an OS 4.3 update, but the older iPad model can only output to 720p and cannot do display mirroring.]

That means the Web, games, word processing applications, spreadsheets, document viewers, Netflix, everything. Remember the original demo Steve Jobs did of the first iPad where he sat down on the couch and you saw everything he did on the screen? Yeah, well now there's finally an App for That. It's called the HDMI accessory.

I suspect also since HDMI supports HDCP, we'll finally be able to output videos purchased from iTunes onto a larger screen as well. I would like this, a lot. It means I could bring a HDMI cable with me when I travel and output video to my hotel room's full-size TV.

Given that I am now no longer a spring chicken at the tender age of 41, and my eyesight stinks, being able to watch videos and work from a larger screen in my hotel room on my iPad is a big improvement.

For business folks, this is also isn't a trivial feature because HDMI is pin-compatible with DVI, which is the standard used on most flat-screen PC monitors as well as projector systems. With an inexpensive HDMI to DVI converter cable, you can pretty much replace a laptop for presentations if you're satisfied with Keynote as a PowerPoint replacement.

Frankly, I think HDMI and full mirroring of the device's display output to an external display more than makes up for the fact that the new iPad has an identical screen resolution of the old one. Sure, it would have been nice if the new unit had a higher resolution display, but it's not like there isn't anything wrong with the existing built-in XGA display. I mean, it's a great friggin' display.

So I'm buying a new one. It's a done deal. This time around, however, I'm probably going to go with the 16GB model instead of the 32GB model, since I barely use the storage I have on the thing, with most of my data stored in the cloud, and I usually don't rent more than two or three movies to preload before I go on a trip. Even with 4, I still wouldn't max out on 16GB.

Now, it should be added that I've already arranged to sell my original iPad, but this does not factor into my purchase plans. I was originally going to simply give my original iPad to my wife if I liked what I saw in the new device, but this is a nice way to finance the new purchase.

Net net, I might just end up buying a second tablet to swap with the spousal unit if say, a reasonably priced Android 3 device comes along, or if she makes me buy her another iPad because she refuses to share it.

So if you don't own an iPad or any sort of tablet yet and if you're considering the device -- I'd say this was a no brainer, if the price is right.

If you're an iPad 1 owner, and you like the new features of the iPad 2 and they are actually worth it to you -- then I'd definitely say go for it, especially if you can find your old device a new home or even sell it.

If, however your current device makes you perfectly happy, then don't go throwing perfectly good money out the window just because you want the latest and greatest. I'm not necessarily a good indicator of what a typical consumer actually needs, since I actually write about this junk and can justify the purchase regardless.

Does the iPad 2 have enough new features and improvements that you've decided to upgrade to the new model? Talk Back and let me know.

Topics: Apple, Hardware, iPad, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • RE: Apple iPad 2: Why I'm hitting the Amex again

    Oh please, you were going to get one no matter what.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: Apple iPad 2: Why I'm hitting the Amex again

      @Loverock Davidson I'm not so sure of that. I was considering picking up a Wi-Fi version of the XOOM if it had come out in a similar time frame. But I'm not willing to wait for it having played with the current model.
      • RE: Apple iPad 2: Why I'm hitting the Amex again

        Actually I'm surprised you don't have one of each for testing and comparison.
        Loverock Davidson
      • RE: Apple iPad 2: Why I'm hitting the Amex again

        @Loverock Davidson even I have my limits as to what I'll spend on pure "research" equipment. I've played with the XOOM enough to not need owning one, at least the $800 model. If the Wi-Fi one comes out for $500-$600 I might pick one up to play with.
      • tco

        one of the most amazing (and mostly unnoticed by the pundits) aspects of the apple value proposition is the extremely high resale value of apple hardware.

        i will sell my ipad 1 too and buy a new ipad 2. the difference will only be around $100. that's only $10 per month of use (or the equivalent of two coffees at your local coffee shop) for using an unbelievable device for around 10 months (bought it in june last year).

        substracting this $100 "usage fee" over the last year i now get a brand new ipad2 for "free".

        amazing. no other hardware offers that much value. buying apple stuff is almost a no-brainer. when you're ready to upgrade, just sell your old device and a big chunk of your new purchase is already paid for.
        banned from zdnet
      • RE: Apple iPad 2: Why I'm hitting the Amex again


        Loverock = Troller

        No point engaging it in discussion.
      • RE: Apple iPad 2: Why I'm hitting the Amex again

        @jperlow Seems like you're trying to convince yourself more about this than anyone else.<br><br>Besides the price point, you're implying that the Xoom is a better device. The current Xoom is not an entry level model so it wouldn't compete with the $500 iPad2.<br><br>If you already have an iPad why can't you wait for the wifi Xoom if you really want one of those?<br><br>You know that the iPad2 is just an incremental update. I'm sure it has 512 megs of ram or less, the camera resolutions must suck, no true multi-tasking still, no GPS, no SD card slot, extra $40 for HDMI, no USB, and screen resolution same as before. So for $260 more you can get all this and then some plus a tablet specific OS like Honeycomb.
      • RE: Apple iPad 2: Why I'm hitting the Amex again

        @jperlow Yeah, right Jason.
      • RE: Apple iPad 2: Why I'm hitting the Amex again

        @jperlow so u gonna pay another 500 for a device that not 4g upgradable 512mb of ram same as a ipod os?? lmao enjoy the same product!!!
      • Re: pay another 500


        [i]"so u gonna pay another 500 for a device that not 4g upgradable 512mb of ram same as a ipod os?? lmao enjoy the same product!!![/i]

        And he will probably do the same next year (or earlier) like many other people do with their iGadgets. Of course I guess other companies do it too now especially in the cell phone and other small similar gadgets. I know people that pay extra to upgrade their phones every year or earlier. I don't get it. When I upgraded from my iPhone 3G to the iPhone 4 that was two years and was the fastest I ever upgraded my phone in my life. Before I would use it until it died or at least 3 - 6 years.
      • RE: Apple iPad 2: Why I'm hitting the Amex again

        @mrxxxman Did you consider that maybe the items you listed don't matter or at least justify the extra expense and wait for the Xoom WiFi only version? That and from the reviews I have read about Honycomb on the Xoom that isn't really a selling point, though it should get better.
    • RE: Apple iPad 2: Why I'm hitting the Amex again

      @Loverock Davidson

      You can get a droid tablet and play with all 16 apps designed for 3.0 vs 65000 for the iPad. This should be a lot of fun!!!
    • RE: Apple iPad 2: Why I'm hitting the Amex again

      @Loverock Davidson

      There's one born every minute
      A fool and his money are soon parted

      But I am worried about:

      Great minds think alike
      Fools seldom differ
  • Why?

    Because you're smart.
    • RE: Apple iPad 2: Why I'm hitting the Amex again

      @james347 - or a sucker
      • RE: Apple iPad 2: Why I'm hitting the Amex again


        I vote sucker. Besides James here would reply positive on an article about Apple killing babies to use their skin for the next iGadget and he would say that is wonderful.

        Sorry if that offends anyone but I was trying to be extreme.
      • RE: Apple iPad 2: Why I'm hitting the Amex again

        Yes you are. Offensive <i>and</i> extreme.
        I don't believe you're sorry.
      • Re: Yes You Are


        Well you can believe what you want to believe..that is your right. Just showing the fact that every Apple related thing good or bad that James (and a few others) comment on how wonderful it is. Almost like they are on some sort of Apple mood enhancing drug.

        Have a nice day.
      • RE: Apple iPad 2: Why I'm hitting the Amex again

        @bobiroc : macaCAdam will always find anything even slightly negative about its god Apple offensive and extreme, no matter what.
  • Jason, this time do the smart thing and get the WiFi plus 3G version

    Of course, if you do that, you will have to choose a telcom carrier. I suspect you will go with Verizon on that on even though the data transfer speed is slower than AT&T's network. (So they say)

    Its been my experience with AT&T data service that their service is highly reliably but when I travel by car down the Eastern seaboard route to Florida, the service is very spotty in rural areas. (Urban area coverage is good, however)

    As far as flash storage capacity is concerned, my 64 Gig model has 32 GBs unused with three or so movies and a full complement of songs onboard.

    I would still opt for the 32 GB version. That seems to be the sweet spot.

    I suspect that you are more the Darth Vader type (grin) rather than the Luke Skywalker stereotype so I suspect you will order the "Black" model.

    Good Luck and I am envious. BTW, Appleinsider is reporting that the A5 chip has 512 GB of RAM .. just like the iPhone A4 chip does.