When first released, the Apple iPad 2 was widely hailed as the best tablet computer available. It's been supplanted by the newer Apple iPad (*Est. $500 and up), but its core competencies -- ease of use, great Internet browsing and a library of apps unmatched by its competitors -- remain intact.
The iPad 2 sports a 9.7-inch, 1,024-by-768-pixel glossy display, dual-core 1 GHz Apple A5 processor and 512 MB of RAM. The processor results in fast overall performance, which is especially evident when browsing the web and launching apps. Battery life is excellent, lasting more than 10 hours in most scenarios. The iPad 2 also offers dual cameras, including a front-facing camera that is compatible with FaceTime. Reviewers say the cameras are of low quality, especially for still photos; an improved rear camera (from 3 megapixels to 5 megapixels) is one of the enhancements in the current iPad.
Critics complain that the iPad 2 (or the iPad, for that matter) still doesn't support Flash video. The lack of a high-resolution display drew disappointment when the iPad 2 was new, and reviewers say that iPad 2 owners should avoid looking at the Retina display of the current iPad to prevent that disappointment from increasing many-fold.
The iPad 2 is thinner and slightly lighter than the previous iPad, and even just a tiny bit thinner and lighter than the current one, which makes it easier to hold with one hand. That said, if reading ebooks is high on your interest list, the iPad 2 is a bit heavier than most popular e-readers. Glare can also be a problem if reading outdoors or under bright lights. Some worry that the color display is harder on the eyes than the electronic ink displays found in dedicated ebook readers, but experts say that they shouldn't. The touch screen is among the most responsive you'll find in any tablet -- easily outperforming those in less expensive options.
The clean, non-cluttered design of the iPad 2 made it an object of desire by many. Color choices are limited to black or white. Some say that the black version makes glare issues a little less noticeable. Connectivity options are sparse -- just an Apple Dock Connector and stereo audio.
Apple's customer support is legendary, and that extends to the iPad 2. Owners can take advantage of the Genius Bar in Apple stores for free expert assistance. The one-year warranty is fair, but the 90 days of free phone support is on the short side. AppleCare plans are available, but relatively expensive. The number of available apps still outpaces that of any other tablet platform, including Android's Google Play app store.
While the latest version of the Apple iPad sports notable upgrades -- including that gorgeous high-resolution 2,048-by-1,536 pixel Retina touch-screen display and a 4G radio in versions with 4G connectivity, the iPad 2 still retains almost everything that made it popular and powerful when it first launched, making it a good budget alternative to the iPad and to the slew of lower-priced Android tablets.
The iPad 2 comes in Wi-Fi-only and Wi-Fi + 3G configurations, but with only 16 GB storage capacity still being offered. For the 3G version, data plans are available from both AT&T and Verizon, and they don't require long-term contracts.
Many technology sources have solid reviews of the Apple iPad 2, including PCMag.com, Macworld and Laptop Magazine. Each of these sources thoroughly tests and rates the tablet. Engadget.com, SlashGear.com and TechCrunch.com also have useful analyses. Longtime technology reviewers Walter Mossberg and David Pogue don't rate the iPad 2, but they draw useful conclusions nonetheless. See our report on the new Apple iPad for reviews of that device, many of which include comparisons to the iPad 2.
Tim Gideon at PCMag.com says the iPad 2 "easily wins" an Editors' Choice award in the tablet category. Although he says it is not a must-have upgrade for owners of the original iPad, Gideon says the iPad 2 remains the tablet to beat.
Review: Apple iPad 2 (Wi-Fi + 3G), Tim Gideon, March 9, 2011
2. Laptop Magazine
The iPad 2 also earns an Editors' Choice award from Laptop Magazine. Mark Spoonauer says the cameras aren't great, but he compliments the iPad 2's design, speed and battery life.
Review: Apple iPad 2 (Verizon Wireless) Review, Mark Spoonauer, March 9, 2011
CNET also gives an Editors' Choice award to the Apple iPad 2. "Its easy-to-use interface, vast app catalog, and marathon battery life bolster Apple's claim to being the king of tablets," says Donald Bell. The low-quality cameras are one downside.
Review: Apple iPad 2 Review (16GB, Wi-Fi, Black), Donald Bell, March 11, 2011
Macworld gives the iPad 2 a 4.5-star rating out of 5. Like other reviewers, Jason Snell says the tablet is faster and feels lighter than the previous version.
Review: Review: The iPad 2, Jason Snell, March 9, 2011
Engadget.com gives the iPad 2 an overall rating of 9 out of 10. Joshua Topolsky says he loves the new iPad's thin design and adds that battery life exceeds expectations.
Review: IPad 2 Review, Joshua Topolsky, March 9, 2011
6. Computer Shopper
The iPad 2 scores another Editors' Choice award from ComputerShopper.com. Jonathan Rougeot likes the tablet's performance and the web browsing experience it provides. Like some other reviewers, Rougeot grouses about the quality of the tablet's cameras.
Review: Apple iPad 2 (Wi-Fi & 3G Version, AT&T) Review and Ratings, Jonathan Rougeot, April 1, 2011
The iPad 2 scores a 4.5-star rating out of 5 from Britain's TechRadar.com. In this lengthy review, John Brandon says the tablet was the best available at the time of its release, but he would like to see more innovative features.
Review: IPad 2 Review, John Brandon, March 14, 2011
8. The Wall Street Journal
Like many reviewers, Walter Mossberg says that the iPad 2 is noticeably faster than its predecessor and that battery life remains a high point. The cameras aren't that great, however, and the iPad still lacks Flash support, he notes.
Review: IPad 2: Thin, Not Picture Perfect, Walter S. Mossberg, March 9, 2011
9. The New York Times
David Pogue says the iPad 2 hasn't changed all that much from its predecessor, but it feels much different. "My friends, I'm telling you: just that much improvement in thinness, weight and speed transforms the experience," he says.
Review: Appeal of iPad 2 Is a Matter of Emotions, David Pogue, March 9, 2011
10. Chicago Sun Times
Andy Ihnatko at the Chicago Sun-Times says that, at the time of its release, the iPad 2 was the tablet to beat. "Unless some other company reaches into their hat and pulls out the god-damnedest rabbit anyone's ever seen, Apple has a lock on the tablet category until next year at the very least," he says.
Review: Review: IPad 2 Is Not Revolutionary, But It Is Great, Andy Ihnatko, March 21, 2011
11. USA Today Magazine
Edward C. Baig at USA Today gives the iPad 2 a thumbs up. It has drawbacks -- no Flash support and low-quality cameras -- but Baig says the iPad 2 is still a better tablet than its predecessor.
Review: IPad 2 Is Even Better Than the Original, Edward C. Baig, March 10, 2011
The iPad 2 earns a positive review from Vincent Nguyen at SlashGear.com. The iPad 2 is faster, easier to hold and includes some nifty new accessories compared to the original iPad.
Review: IPad 2 Review, Vincent Nguyen, March 9, 2011
MG Siegler at TechCrunch.com finds a few disappointments, but those are more than offset by the many positives of the iPad 2. "This is everything that was great about the initial iPad, but better," he says.
Review: TechCrunch Review - The iPad 2: Yeah, You're Gonna Want One, MG Siegler, March 9, 2011