Ask Maggie: On iPad 2 vs. the original iPad

March 7, 2011 - 0:0

Apple's iPad 2 is thinner, lighter, and faster than the original, but is it different enough from last year's model to entice new customers?

That's the big question. Apple sold more than 15 million iPads in 2010. But this week, when Apple introduced the new iPad 2, some people are disappointed that latest version was still missing key features and isn't much different from its predecessor. The device goes on sale in the U.S. on March 11.
In this week's Ask Maggie, I help one reader decide if he should spend the extra cash on the iPad 2, or if he should take advantage of the reduced price on last year's model. I also explain the best options for getting 3G service on an iPad while traveling abroad. And I clear up a reader's question about getting 3G service for an iPad using a carrier other than AT&T or Verizon Wireless.
Ask Maggie is a weekly advice column that answers readers' wireless and broadband questions. If you've got a question, please send me an e-mail at maggie dot reardon at cbs dot com. And please put ""Ask Maggie"" in the subject header.
The obvious reason to buy the first iPad over the iPad 2 is the cost. Apple just reduced the price of the older version of the iPad by $100, as you mentioned in your question. This means the least expensive 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad is now $399 instead of $499. And if you get a refurbished iPad through Apple's site, the price goes down $349. (If you're willing to get a used iPad elsewhere, you may even be able to get a cheaper price as many people will be looking to upgrade.)
In terms of the design and function of the iPad 2, it's not much different from the older iPad. It's about 33 percent thinner and lighter. And as you mentioned it comes with front-facing and back-facing cameras that can be used for video conferencing. The older iPad doesn't have cameras.
The new version of the iPad does use a faster dual-core processor and it has upgraded graphics inside that will supposedly make the graphics nine times faster. But so far I haven't heard many people complaining that the iPad is slow. If you don't need or want the video chat capability, and the weight or size of the older iPad doesn't bother you, I can see why you'd consider getting it instead of the iPad 2. I'm pretty cheap. And the $499 price tag of the cheapest iPad is a lot of money for me to spend on a gadget that is more of a ""want"" than a ""need."" So I definitely understand where you are coming from.
To get a different perspective on this situation, I talked to my CNET colleague Josh Lowensohn, who covers Apple. Josh argues there are a number of reasons to get the newer iPad.
The first reason he raised has to do with making sure your device is compatible with future applications. He believes new apps developed for the iPad will make use of the newer hardware, which means that these apps may not work at all on the older iPad. He said something similar happened when Apple improved the guts of the iPhone. There are certain application functions that can run on the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 that can't run on the original iPhone and iPhone 3G.
This app compatibility issue may be even more important when the next version of iOS comes out. Josh said that iOS 5 could add something to the software code that will allow new multi-core threaded apps to make use of both processor cores at once, which could result in some very interesting applications.
(Source: CNET)