Investigation of the iPad 2, the First 48 Hours

These are the moments that Apple likely envisioned when designing the ipad 2. From the comfort of my couch, I'm tapping away on the beautiful glass screen using the My Writing Spot app. It all syncs to the cloud so there's no need to worry about data space. There are no Windows update messages, and buggy [not responding] screens requiring a restart. This is a post PC tablet in the words of Steve Jobs. For an entrepreneur in 2011, the rules are changing, and your office can be anywhere. Considering that most of my documents and spreadsheets are in the cloud, I probably could have just picked up the 16gb model but I opted for the 32gb with a bit of extra breathing room.

This was the first time I ever participated in a launch day purchase, and it was quite the event. When I arrived at the Apple Store on March 11th, there was no line to be seen. It was about 10:15 in the morning so I wondered if maybe I was first to arrive. Not likely considering the hype and anticipation that had been surrounding the device. I asked an employee who said "the line is forming downstairs and outside in the parking garage." Did she just say "parking garage?" I descended into the depths of the cold, dank lower level of the mall and sure enough, about 25 people were already on line. The cement was stained with oil, and quite frankly it smelled of urine and cigarettes. This was so far from the slick, polished appearance of the way Apple normally does business. We're all here to spend a thousand bucks, can we get a freaking folding chair out here?

 

 

Nevertheless, as usually happens in these types of situations, people band together. We're all in this for the long haul with about seven hours to go, so let's make the best of it. Soon after, I met a whole party of nice folks from all different walks of life. There was the Assistant principal who was playing hookie. He just bought the first iPad a week before, so Apple told him he could exchange it for the new model. One nice guy was waiting on line for a friend who was at work. A husband and wife took the bus there along with their one year old son. We passed around smart phones sharing baby photos and astrological signs. In shifts of two, we grabbed lunch, used the facilities, and warmed up in the climate controlled environment of the mall. Around noon, Apple came down with a little snack cart and boxes of coffee. It helped warm me up as I glanced at the watch. Only 5 hours to go....

The news came and did their obligatory interview with the first folks who lined up around eight in the morning. When the camera man turned on his light, anyone who called out sick from work, or school scattered like bees from a hive. The line was now several hundred deep, and my place 26th in line started to look very good. Eventually Apple had an employee with a megaphone announce the procedure. They would be handing out vouchers with the model number you wanted. Without the voucher, you would not be able to purchase one. 32 gb wifi in black, I said as he began to fish through the box of tickets.

It was 5pm, and the moment had arrived. Police and security escorted us up the stairs into the fresh air in organized groups of ten. The news cameras were rolling as curious bystanders looked on. One teenage girl scowled, "omg, what is this, a tour bus?" We laughed as the procession continued past Macy's, the Sock Drawer, and B. Dalton books. Just ahead, there was the glowing apple, and thick crowds of excited people. Security started getting nervous and shouted "have your vouchers out and up". Grinning broadly I held up my voucher and was ushered through the chaos into the store. Just then, the entire team of Apple employees started to clap and cheer loudly. There store was packed with people ready to help. This was the experience that Apple wanted people to see. By 5:15 I headed home with a memorable tale to tell, and an iPad 2.

In the days to follow, I started downloading the apps, and I'll detail which ones in just a minute. First, I want to tell you about the actual iPad 2. If you've watched the news or read any reviews online, you already know the device is ridiculously thin, and light. It's also faster with the A5 processor making every transition instantaneous. As you might expect, the screen is beautiful, making reading, videos, and photos a pleasure. I didn't expect much from the cameras, but then again, I thought they would have been at least comparable with the iPhone 4's five megapixel cam. Unfortunately Apple put an old, grainy camera similar to the one in the iPod touch. Still, the front facing camera is a great addition for Skype video calls.

The whole thing is housed in the outstanding smart case which was made specifically for the iPad 2. It's hard to believe that an accessory like a case could be worth talking about, but the design is actually quite ingenious. With a simple set of magnets the case slips into place perfectly and actually puts the iPad to sleep when attached. You peel it back, and the device wakes up. Despite the great functionality of the case, it's minimalistic in design, retaining the beauty of the actual device's form. Again, you likely knew all of that. But how does the iPad 2 help me become more productive? It's the apps. Here are some of the apps I downloaded for my photography business:

Keynote - like PowerPoint for the Mac, enabling you to create beautiful presentations.

My Writing Spot - Simple, elegant word processing.

Photographers Ephemeris - using maps you can detail exactly which direction the sun and moon will be rising and setting.  

CalenGoo - Consolidates all of my Google Calendars into one nifty app. It also allows you to work offline and sync later.

Squarespace - this is the company I use to host my website and blog. The app has the same functionality as what I could do if I logged on to my desktop computer. Review analytics, moderate comments, write and schedule a blog post, add a photo or video.

Friendly - the official Facebook app was designed for the iPhone and for some strange reason the company seems disinterested in creating one for the iPad. The developers over at Friendly saw the opportunity and created a nice app for $1.

Reeder - I follow several dozen RSS feeds but the Google Reader interface is really clunky. This app makes scanning and sharing article a pleasure. I was even able to customize it so an article pulled to the left is automatically sent to Instapaper.

Instapaper - my new favorite app for reading articles offline. The app strips out the adds, and gives you a clean, book like page for you to focus on the written content. Once you add an article here, it is saved in the app's memory so you can read them even without Internet access.

Twitter - the bigger screen of the iPad makes this app a fun way to participate in the Twitterverse.

Weather HD - beautiful visuals and accurate forecasting with details on precipitation, winds, and more.

The AirPlay feature in iOS 4.3 is tremendously useful and allows me to wirelessly share music, and videos on the iPad directly to the Apple TV. While working, I've enjoyed Pandora, and even the Mets spring training game with the TuneIn Radio app. The PBS app has inspiring multimedia content, and the Art app puts the worlds best paintings at your fingertips. I've also been reading free issues of Entrepreneur magazine through their app. The imovie app has pushed me to start tackling a DVD project I've been putting off. I even started to read Leonardo DaVinci's notebook during downtime in iBooks.

After about 48 hours with the ipad 2, it seems my iMac will be left in sleep mode more often than not. I'll likely only turn it on to work with my Lightroom catalog, or to process images with Photoshop. For just about everything else, the iPad will be my go to device.

 

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