When Apple announced the iPad tablet computer in January 2010, and followed it up with the iPad 2 in March 2011, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said the device had created a new category of mobile devices. With more than 25 million iPads sold as of June 2011, the iPad is by far the best selling tablet computer. But for all of the iPad's technical capabilities -- high-definition video support, powerful processor and graphics -- the device still has limitations compared to other types of computers.
The first-generation iPad comes equipped with a 1 gigahertz A4 Apple-designed processor and 256 megabytes of random access memory. The iPad 2 has a dual-core 1 GHz processor and 512MB of RAM, less memory than is included in the rival tablet Motorola Xoom, which has 1GB of RAM. In its review of the iPad 2, the website Engadget described the CPU and graphics performance as "extremely impressive" when playing graphics-heavy games or applications.
Display and Cameras
Both the original iPad and the iPad 2 feature a 9.7-inch, LED-backlit multitouch display that has a resolution of 1,024-by-768 pixels, and has in-plane switching (IPS) technology, allowing users to look at the screen from many angles and still see a high-quality picture. The rear-facing camera of the iPad 2 can take high-definition video with audio and also take still pictures. The front-facing camera can take VGA-quality video and still pictures.
Both the iPad and iPad 2 were designed to run for hours without being recharged. In a March 2011 test, Engadget found that the iPad 2 was able to play a video clip on loop continuously for 10 hours and 26 minutes before the battery ran out, which was the longest time for any of the six tablet computers tested. The first-generation iPad lasted the second-longest, going nine hours and 33 minutes before needing a charge.
One of the most notable of the limitations of both iPad versions is the lack of support for Adobe Flash, a multimedia platform used by many websites to add interactive video. A rival tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook, supports Flash. Another limitation, according to the website Apple Insider, is the fact that the iPad is tied to iTunes. In order to update software or sync content such as video or music from a computer to the iPad, the device must be connected to a computer using a sync cable.
While the iPad and iPad 2 can support many business applications, such as creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations, neither iPad version is ideal as a work productivity tool. Because it lacks a physical keyboard, users must rely on the on-screen keyboard for typing, which is not an effective tool for typing long documents, according to "PC World." Some features in productivity software applications such as Microsoft Word or Excel will not work on an iPad. In addition, neither the iPad nor iPad 2 offer local storage for documents or spreadsheets, which means a user has to email it to himself so he can open it on the iPad to work on it.
- Apple Insider; In-Depth Review: Apple's iPad 2 Running iOS 4.3; Daniel Eran Dilger; March 2011
- Engadget; iPad 2 review; Joshua Topolsky; March 2011
- "PC World"; iPad vs. Netbook: It's a Close Call; Jason Cross; April 2010
- Apple Press Info: Apple Launches iPad 2; March 2011
- Apple Insider: iPad Sales Reach 25M Milestone, Apple on Track for 8M+ This Quarter; Neil Hughes; June 2011