by Jonathan Rothwell

The new² iPad (and, why I'm not getting one, but you probably should)

For those of you who don’t already know, on 23 February (two weeks ago yesterday) I bought an iPad 2 from the Apple store in Covent Garden.

For the benefit of those living under a rock, on Wednesday evening, Apple substantially cut the price of the 2, and introduced the “new iPad”—curiously not given a numerical moniker, probably because of the Twitter shit storm after the “iPhone 5” turned out to be the 4S, an incrementally-improved version of the 4.

The last day I could have taken my iPad back in to the store for a full refund was. I didn’t do so, and instead took a refund of the £70 price difference.

There are several reasons:

  1. The iPad 2 is a pretty damned good tablet anyway. That’s not to say it’s perfect: the cameras are pretty lame, and the display isn’t particularly high resolution. However, the cameras are adequate for the sort of things I find myself doing with them: if I want to take a picture because something’s pretty, as opposed to because it has an important phone number on it, I’ll usually take out my phone and snap away with that, instead. The screen, also, is very crisp and bright. Although a retina display is, of course, orders of magnitude better (the iPhone screen is astonishing simply to look at), the non-retina display is also extremely pleasant to use.

  2. I find it hard to sniff at a £70 refund for the drop in the price of the iPad 2.

  3. The iPad is cheap. I expect that some time this year or next year I will replace my laptop, but it seems likely that by the time of the iPad 3+1 (or, even, the 3+2) I’ll probably be able to afford one of those. Even then, I’ll only replace it if I see a particular need to. By then, also, Windows 8 tablets will have come into play, and I’ll have a wider choice of (hopefully) compelling tablets to choose from.

  4. Given that yesterday was the last day I could have returned my iPad, I would have been tablet-less for a week (or longer, had I ordered online in the evening.) It’s easy to argue that I survived just fine without a tablet in the past, but it genuinely is astonishing how much of my online life the iPad has taken over. I still use (and love) both my PC and my phone, but going back to my laptop and browsing the web, using Twitter and writing text documents feels exceptionally clunky.

But what about me?

If you’re currently in the market for a well-built, powerful tablet, and can afford to wait for a week or so, you should almost certainly buy an iPad 3. Even if you’re on a budget, it’s definitely worth shelling out an additional £70 for the retina display alone—even completely disregarding the camera, the voice dictation, and the bumped performance.

The iPad 2, however, is still a fine tablet. If you’re buying more than one, or are on a very tight budget, you should certainly consider the 2.

Arguably, since the death of HP’s TouchPad, the iPad is the only tablet on the market worth getting. Moreover, unlike a Windows 8 tablet, or (if you live outside the US) the Kindle Fire, you can have one in your hands next week, as opposed to some nebulous time later this year.