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Goldstuck on Gadgets

Please start this revolution without me

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The iPad 2 went on sale this past weekend, and will no doubt break records. But is it the revolutionary device all the iPad fans want it to be? ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK thinks not.

The second version of the iPad has been released with all the hoopla of the circus coming to town in the old days. The ringmaster was the gravely ill Steve Jobs, who said he didn’t want to miss such an important event. And the star act, of course, was the new iPad ‚ the device that is changing the face of computing.

There is no doubt that iPad 2 is a thing of beauty. To quote the headline-grabbing adjectives most closely associated with it, the new iPad is thinner, faster and lighter. What the headline don’t mention ‚ and so far I haven’t found it in the small print either ‚ is that most Apple fans were not begging for a thinner, faster, lighter version. The first edition was spectacular enough. Not that thinner, faster, lighter will hurt: you can’t get enough of any of those in a gadget nowadays.

But that was not enough to merit the massive hype around the launch. For that, they had to unveil Steve Jobs himself. His mere presence pumped hot air into the Apple share price balloon. He could have announced a new design for a brown paper bag and received the same acclaim.

Aside from the adjectives, iPad 2 gave the market one specific feature it had demanded: front and back cameras for high-definition video creation and video calls using a program called FaceTime. But that, too, is not revolutionary. If anything, its absence from version 1 had been one of the sources of initial disappointment.

Another of those sources ‚ the absence of a USB port, allowing for easy transfer of files onto the iPad using flash drives ‚ was not addressed at all. . Instead of a USB port, it offers a 30-pin dock connector port, which is the standard port on iPhones, iPods and, of course, iPads.

This emphasised the Apple philosophy of only wanting users to bring applications and content onto the device via the Apple ecosystem. It means the device still has to be synchronised with a PC or Mac, on which you still have to install an application called iTunes. No, it’s not only for music: it’s the way Apple delivers every form of content, from games to movies, to its devices.

This convoluted process also emphasises the dirty secret of the iPad: it can’t exist independently of other devices. It does not replace your computer. Indeed, it depends on it.

Early-adopter young executives have been flaunting the device as the answer to their busy out-of-office lives over the past year. And if they say it works for them, obviously it does. But for average computer users who do average work on average documents and spreadsheets, and take average photos they want to transfer onto their average computers, this thinner, faster, lighter device performs somewhat below average.

The lack of spectacular new features and the gaps in its use as a tool for productivity has prompted some to forecast that the real version 2 will be released towards the end of this year. The very rumour, in the absence of facts, tells us that, if you bought version 1 when it arrived in South Africa a few weeks ago, you need not feel any buyer’s remorse. This is merely iPad 1.1.

This new version is no revolution. If it is claimed to be one, that’s one revolution they can start without me.

* Arthur Goldstuck heads up the World Wide Worx market research organisation and is editor-in-chief of Gadget. You can follow him on Twitter on @art2gee

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Point is that they have a 2nd version of a product out before most have even entered the tablet market…credit to them”,”body-href”:””}]

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