Apple’s iPad 2 might be ‘magical’ but it still should’ve been better

Apple’s latest media-rattling event has come and gone, and we’re now left to sort through all that magic and focus on the product itself. We also need to process any tidbits we might have missed amid the fracas. The star of the show was Apple’s new iPad 2, of course, and initial reactions are obviously overwhelmingly positive. In the end, we’re looking at a thin, sleek, sexy new tablet that will obviously sell like hotcakes. But is Apple’s new iPad 2 really the iPad it should have been? Hit the break for several key areas where Apple’s new iPad falls short.

New year, same screen

The display on the new iPad 2 is, unfortunately, the exact same resolution as last year’s model. We know users are going to need a reason to buy the third-generation iPad when it launches next year — or even later this year, if rumors pan out — but technology moves fast enough that a bump in display quality would have made the new iPad 2 infinitely more appealing and still left plenty of room for improvement with the iPad 3. Looking at the iPad display next to the iPhone 4′s Retina Display is, plainly put, sad. But unfortunately, we’ll have to wait for the third-generation model to see a significant bump in screen resolution.

What’s so mega about those pixels?

With all that space on the supersized iPad body, I would definitely have liked to see an amazing new rear camera on the iPad 2. Snapping pictures and recording videos with the 9.5-inch-tall iPad 2 is going to be ridiculously awkward at best, and Apple could have at least done users the service of making the resulting images and videos stunning. In the same vein, video calls made via FaceTime could have yielded a much better experience if the front-facing camera raised the bar rather than sneaking beneath it with VGA resolution. I expected more.

It needs more G’s

It’s 2011. Sprint has a live WiMAX network, Verizon Wireless has a live LTE network, and AT&T will begin rolling out its LTE network soon enough. 4G is so important, apparently, that AT&T and T-Mobile found it necessary to rebrand their 3G networks as 4G. Yet the new iPad is only compatible with 3G cellular networks. Apple should be ahead of the curve here, or at least on the curve. Instead, the new iPad 2 is behind the curve. Snoop knows what I’m talking about.

It’s still just a toy

Apple’s iPad, and consumer tablets in general, are still just toys. Fun toys, of course, but toys nevertheless. Simply put, they can’t replace any consumer electronics device that was on the market before Apple kicked off the tablet craze last year. They can perform plenty of tasks quite well, but not better than the other device they might hope to replace. When it comes to watching movies, a TV is best. When it comes to working, a laptop is best. When it comes to browsing or sending emails on the go, a smartphone is best. And so on. I would like to have seen Apple introduce some compelling new use cases for the iPad — some innovative new functionality that makes the iPad “the best” at something. As it stands, Apple’s second-generation tablet is still only best at being a sexy, expensive, ultimately expendable toy.

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