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An easy tablet to swallow

The Age

Thursday March 31, 2011

garry barker

The iPad 2 is slimmer, faster and more versatile than its predecessor. AWEEK ago, on the eve of the arrival of the iPad 2, I assured anyone willing to listen that I would not desert my faithful iPad. It was lovely. I could live without an iPad 2.My resolve to resist the siren call of the new temptress dissolved the minute I touched it. I am still working out why.It is a combination of many things. The original iPad was a revelation but this new one speaks even more of quality and breeding.The iPad 2's design and the finish take tablet form and technology in construction and all-round performance a significant way forward.It is sleeker, slimmer, more luxurious and graceful; lighter than iPad 1 by 15 per cent, thus even easier to carry and use. It is 33 per cent thinner, with a fine elegant edge and a graceful curve into the flat back of its one-piece Unibody, carved from a single block of aluminium.This unibody must be only a millimetre or so thick and yet the device is solid in the hand. Although there is less room inside, the battery continues to deliver at least 10 hours of continuous use between recharges. Two cameras have been added, sound from the speakers behind a laser-drilled grille on the back is much better.The new dual-core, Apple-designed A5 chipset gives iPad 2 noticeably more power. It loads and runs apps faster than its older sibling, boots up faster and is overall a smarter machine. GarageBand and iMovie on iPad 2 are stunning.HSUPA (high-speed uplink packet access) has been added to 3G on the iPad 2, giving, Apple says, a 15-times increase in upload speeds to 5.8 megabits a second.Adding two cameras was an obvious move. Teachers in schools, who, in Victoria, have leapt to use iPads, may find this a challenge but consumers will love it. So will telcos. FaceTime use will soar.Whether an iPad 2 will match the iPhone 4 for snapping or shooting video may be questioned. The pictures are somewhat grainier than the iPhone 4's but that won't matter to what must be the big reason the cameras were added: FaceTime video conferencing. It has come of age on iPad 2 nicer and more intimate on the larger screen.The included camera app is surprisingly powerful. You can shoot, rough-edit and add music to videos or slideshows right in the app and share the result by email, MobileMe or YouTube or with AirPlay to a TV, with the tap of a finger.But, if you wish to make like Bruce Beresford, download iMovie. In fact, download both iMovie and GarageBand and be like Nick Cave, too. At $5.99 each from the iTunes App Store, they are bargains.iMovie has been available for iPhone for a while but on iPad 2's bigger screen it is an eye-opener. You can edit, add music, make titles and generally work like a real movie editor on timelines, audio waveforms and transitions that a year ago required a full-blown computer.It's serious stuff but ridiculously easy to use.Finally, we must mention the accessory that almost overshadowed the iPad 2 itself the SmartCover. Simple though it is, it illustrates the skill of Apple's designers. Once again chief designer Jon Ive has used magnets. This time, from inside the iPad 2, they align and hold the cover in place. Lift the cover's edge and the iPad wakes. Drop it down and it sleeps. Fold it over and it forms a stand very clever.Motorola, HP, Samsung and others are rushing into the tablet market Apple galvanised with the first iPad. They are now further back in the race and losing ground, on quality and price. Not only is iPad 2 a better device but it comes supported by a vastly better environment.APPFILEFEEL the fever on the brow? Remember the rawness of the throat and the smell of dim sims and chips from the food kiosks? Yes. The footy season is back, bigger and more hale and hearty than ever.So, how else would you keep track of the action than on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad (and, yes, iPad 2, too)? Prahran-based app design team Lookout Mobile has lined up for the third year with a new and improved set of free apps covering AFL, NRL and, new to the squad, Super Rugby HD "Mainly because of the Rebels," Lookout chief Daniel Kagan says.Aussie Rules Live and Rugby League Live were the top-selling Australian sports apps in 2009 and 2010 and Mr Kagan says the new and updated ones should do as well. "We worked eight months on these," he says. "Everything is new and response so far has been fantastic."Features include weekly video highlights, news, game previews, player stats, a TV guide, live score streaming and a fantasy team builder. "The live scores have always been the key objective," Mr Kagan says. "Adding live streaming means users will receive live score updates as they happen, without having to touch their devices." Data, including video highlights, is from AAP and Champion Data.

© 2011 The Age

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