Evolution

Apple yesterday took the wraps off the highly-anticipated iPad 2 at a media event in San Francisco. The newest version of Apple's latest magical and revolutionary wunderkind is definitely impressive but, in my mind, isn't quite as blow-your-head-off amazing as, say, the iPhone 4 was last summer. Even so, it's still a no-brainer buy if you weren't like me and didn't already have the first-generation model. But, if you are like me and already have an iPad, then the question of whether or not to upgrade is harder to answer. Unless, of course, you just have to have the latest and greatest, in which case Gazelle is the place to go if you want to be rid of your so-2010 tablet. As for me, I'm not upgrading. I'm not upgrading because a) my 64GB 3G model suits me just fine and b) the iPad 2 doesn't have a Retina Display. Truthfully, it's really the lack of a super high-res display that's keeping me from buying. Granted, the iPad's current screen is no ugly duckling, but as an iPhone 4 user, the crispness and vibrancy of the phone's screen has me spoiled. I love it -- so much so that I can actually discern individual pixels on the iPad. It "feels" lower quality (relatively speaking, of course) even though, as I say, it's still gorgeous in its own right. But a Retina Display on the iPad would make it a complete product, and I'll swoop one up the minute Steve Jobs announces it. I'm hoping that'll be this time next year with iPad 3. Nonetheless, the iPad 2 is still plenty impressive. It's got a dual-core A5 chip with 9x the graphics performance. 512MB of RAM. It's 33% thinner than the original iPad, which, at half an inch thick, is far from clunky. Apple shaved two-tenths of a pound of weight off (1.3 versus 1.5lbs) and it's got two cameras: one for FaceTime and another for 720p HD video recording. (As an aside, I still don't get the appeal in taking pictures and/or video on a tablet, but whatever. The front-facing one for FaceTime chat makes perfect sense.). It's got Photo Booth, iMovie, and Garage Band. Random House is bringing their books to the iBookstore and Apple's finally brought back the screen orientation lock back in iOS 4.3. Best of all, pricing starts at the same $499 with the additional $130 premium for the 3G models. And you get the same 16, 32, or 64GB configurations. And Smart Covers. It really is one great idea on top of another. So while you could argue the new form factor makes the iPad 2 a real revolution, I say that won't happen until the Retina Display is added. For now, this iteration seems more evolutionary than anything. For me, the good things from yesterday's keynote was an updated iMovie for iPhone, GarageBand for iPad, and the iOS 4.3 software update. I'm especially excited about GarageBand and hoping that Photo Booth comes to iPhone as part of iOS 5. Apple sold 15M iPads in the 9 months the tablet was on the market last year. They're likely to sell even more in 2011. Meanwhile, Google, HP, and RIM will be battling for second place. Life isn't all about spec sheets. It's about the interplay of hardware and software, and Apple's got that down to a science. They don't have $60B in the bank for nothing, ya know. That's why I think Apple will continue to rule the tablet roost. Wanna learn more about iPad 2? Check out these videos: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tkx4wbtI4jw] [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SowY4Ll9oUw]