As expected, Apple’s embargo on publications seeded with pre-release units of iPad 2 ended yesterday and we are seeing early reviews from these publications.
Here are some excerpts from our favorite reviewers:
As new contenders move into the field, Apple isn’t likely to keep its 90% share of the booming tablet market. But the iPad 2 moves the goal posts, by being slimmer and lighter, boosting speed and power, and holding its price advantages, available apps and battery life. As of now, I can comfortably recommend it as the best tablet for average consumers.
Walt Mossberg of All Things Digital (WSJ)
Now, the coming months will bring a blizzard of tablets that are meant to compete with the iPad. And they’ll offer some juicy features that the iPad still lacks. On an Android tablet, you can speak to enter text into any box that accepts typing. You also get an outstanding turn-by-turn navigation app — and GPS maps are a different experience on a 10-inch screen. It’s like being guided to your destination by an Imax movie.
Furthermore, new Android tablets will be able to play Flash videos and animations on the Web, something that both Apple and Adobe (maker of Flash) assure us will never come to the iPad (or iPhone). Flash on a tablet or phone can be balky and battery-hungry, but it’s often better than nothing. Thousands of news and entertainment Web sites still rely on Flash, and the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch simply can’t display them.
But you know what? The iPad will still dominate the market, because it dominates in all the most important criteria: thinness, weight, integration, beauty — and apps.
David Pogue of New York Times
It might frustrate the competition to hear this, but it needs to be said: the iPad 2 isn’t just the best tablet on the market, it feels like the only tablet on the market. As much as we’d like to say that something like the Xoom has threatened Apple’s presence in this space, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to do that. Is the iPad 2 a perfect product? Absolutely not. The cameras are severely lacking, the screen — while extremely high quality — is touting last year’s spec, and its operating system still has significant annoyances, like the aggravating pop-up notifications. At a price point of $499, and lots of options after that (like more storage and models that work on both Verizon’s and AT&T’s 3G networks), there’s little to argue about in the way of price, and in terms of usability, apps like GarageBand prove that we haven’t even scratched the surface of what the iPad can do.
For owners of the previous generation, we don’t think Apple’s put a fire under you to upgrade. Unless you absolutely need cameras on your tablet, you’ve still got a solid piece of gear that reaps plenty of the benefits of the latest OS and apps. For those of you who haven’t yet made the leap, feel free to take a deep breath and dive in — the iPad 2 is as good as it gets right now. And it’s really quite good.
Joshua Topolsky of Engadget
For Apple’s competitors in the tablet-device market, the iPad 2 is a bucket of water to the face. After more than a year of struggling to catch up to the original iPad, here’s a new model that addresses many of the iPad’s deficiencies, dramatically improves its speed, and doesn’t cede any ground on price, features, or battery life. The iPad 2 raises the bar Apple set a year ago—and it’s time for the rest of the industry to scramble again to catch up.
For everyone else, the iPad 2 is a triumph, an iPad that’s even more iPad than the original. And the original one was really good. The first iPad was a bolt from the blue, a device that defined an entire category, and a tough act to follow. The iPad 2 follows it with aplomb.
Jason Snell of Macworld
Are you planning to buy or upgrade to iPad 2 after reading these reviews? Let us know in the comments below.