Don't get me wrong, it appears to be a solid upgrade in the usual Apple style, but if you are among us mortals, those who have to take peek into the checking account before hustling over to the Apple store, should remember that there are some painful downsides and there is a chance that you may regret the purchase of an iPad 2 (which will cost you, on average, $628, according to Apple).
Here are my top five reasons (which add up to one cumulative reason) why you should not buy the iPad 2.
1. It has a really crappy camera
It is suspicious if Apple introduces a new feature everyone has been asking for and then does not talk about it. There are two cameras in the iPad 2 - one antiquated camera for your video chats, some call this "facetiming", and VGA (640x480) resolution and a 720p back camera with a still camera and 5x digital zoom. However, that is not a 1280x720p camera, as the specs suggest, but apparently the iPod Touch's 960x720p camera which turns out to be about 0.7 megapixels or the kind of digital camera you would have bought in 1996. The digital zoom is due to its pixel interpolation process virtually useless. Overall, the iPad 2's cameras are really an insult to the term "digital camera" in the year 2011.
2. There is no 4G
There has never been the right time to buy a computer and this year may change the tablet environment in a similar way: When you choose a shiny new tablet and walk out the door, it may already be old, because you just missed an announcement of a much better and new generation device. Granted, the iPad is brand new, but the lack of 4G integration or a conclusive upgrade path is a letdown. 4G preparation should be part of the iPad 2 to support its web browsing and content consumption focus. However, you could be sarcastic and be happy that there is no 4G: In the end, it may trick you into using much more bandwidth your AT&T plan allows you to use. So, if you are looking for an excuse to purchase the iPad 2, consider it a feature to protect your finances from the greedy hands of AT&T.
3. Where is that retina display?
Among the expected updates for the iPad 2 was a retina display with a much higher and crisper resolution. That was a no-show and the iPad 2 is stuck with the same 1024x768 pixel display as the iPad. Sure, apps run much faster and some apps may run smoother, but they will look the same. This may actually not a bad thing for the iPad itself, as this lower resolution display will somewhat conceal the actual picture quality that is delivered by the 0.7 megapixel camera. With growing competition it is likely that the next iPad will deliver a higher-resolution display and a much better camera.
Supporting or not supporting Flash has almost been a religious issue and we have seen trends that Flash may actually be on its way out. But the fact is that there is still plenty of compelling flash content out there and the recent introduction of stage acceleration support eliminates Steve Jobs' concerns that Flash is inefficient and consumes too much battery and processor power. It's nice to have a device to actually run flash apps without staring at empty content space and remember that you just shelled out more than $500 for a web content consumption device. Steve Jobs' lecture that Flash will die reaches only so far. Can we just agree that this whole argument is not really about security and efficiency? It is about protecting Apple's walled apps garden. If you want to have access to all popular types of Internet content, including Flash, the iPad is not for you. Period.
5. No USB, No SD
When Apple introduced the iMac in 1996 and told users that they really do not need a floppy drive anymore, we wanted to agree with Steve Jobs, and we had to, eventually - but it was a painful decision. Apple offered iDrive, an online data storage solution in place of the floppy, but we were dealing with 56K data connections and just downloading a new web browser took about 2 hours. Today we have to deal without common storage solutions such as USB and SD in the iPad/iPad 2 and you scratch your head over the same question: How do I get a lot of data from one place (a digital camera, for example) to this thing? Well, cloud computing could be a solution (just hope you are not on AT&T's 200 MB data plan when you are on the road) - or another expensive Apple accessory to transfer pics from your camera to the device. But hey, it has an Apple logo on it, so you know that there are some detours you will have to accept.
The Bottom Line
All those reasons above add up to one main reason why you should not buy an iPad 2. In many ways, it is just a minor upgrade over the original iPad and in its basic feature set, the new iPad is, for its primary purpose of web browsing, just as good as the new one. If you look at it with common sense, the new iPad 2 is a bridge device that will lead to a much more substantial upgrade next year.
If you have an iPad already, there is no reason to buy a new iPad 2, other than you have $600 or more laying around growing mold. And if you don't have an iPad, you may consider the original iPad, which we hear is seeing dropping prices. The crappy camera, the software update and the dual-core processor may not be worth the extra expense.