Tomorrow will see the launch of the iPad 2. Already, a few early birds have managed to get their hands on this slick new slice of iOS. First impressions were positive, across the board. But the consensus seems to be that the iPad 2 is an evolutionary improvement, not a revolutionary one.
Walt Mossberg praised the iPad 2 for how thin and "airy" it felt. He noted that the A5 processor felt speedier than the iPad's A4, but not wildly so in the course of normal use. An intense battery test (screen at 75%, WiFi & 3G on, looping video) gave it a little over ten hours of battery life. The original iPad scored slightly better, but the iPad 2 beat the Xoom by 2.5 hours.
Points of criticism include poor still quality issues with the cameras and smartcovers that slide off when carried inside a bag.
John Gruber of Daring Fireball is next. He and Walt both used the word "swollen" to refer to the original iPad (and the Xoom) in comparison to the iPad 2. Gruber noted that it was more comfortable to hold, and that the display seemed identical to the original. Geekbench rated it as nearly twice as fast.
Graphics rendering has improved even more substantially. A test of graphics processing showed the iPad 2 as orders of magnitude better than its predecessor. Once developers catch up to the new iPad's capabilities, expect to be blown away.
Gruber was more positive about the smart covers. He noted that they might be enough to convince an iPad owner to make the upgrade.
Engadget was positive about everything you'd expect. But they also provided a hardware snob's look at the iPad 2. They dinged its 512 MB of RAM, although they noted "no memory issues". They also had no issue with the display, but still wished it saw just a teensy boost in resolution.
The iPad 2 camera saw its most damning condemnation here- "really pretty bad" and possibly "the SAME cameras used in the iPod touch". Their Geekbench showed the CPU cores as clocked at 800 MHz. If that's the case, Jailbreaking could lead to very notable improvements in speed.
Engadget's battery life test (65% brightness, WiFi on, mpeg4 clip looping) gave the iPad 2 a staggering 10 hours and 26 minutes, which beats the original iPad by nearly an hour. Also noteworthy was GarageBand, which is appears to be a pretty revolutionary way to create music.