iPad 2 v Original iPad: Worth the Upgrade?

With the announcement of Apple’s latest iPad (link includes video of announcement) potential upgraders may be asking: “Will it be worth the upgrade for owners of the original iPad?” To answer that one must look at the differences. Here are the key features which will be different in iPad 2.

Hardware Differences

Processor 20110302

The new iPad will have a much faster processor. The A5 processor is still clocked at 1 GHz, however, this time it is a dual-core processor. This will make it feel more responsive with background applications running. The original iPad did bog down a little bit if the user had a number of apps open in the background.

The most notable new feature is the external design which is 33% thinner than the original iPad. This also makes the new device lighter. And this time Apple will be shipping two different colors, both white and black.

Ipad depth

A third major upgrade are the cameras. The original iPad did not have any. With a front facing camera the iPad 2 will be useful for videoconferencing via Skype or FaceTime, not to mention the possibility of recording a little personal video blog. The rear facing camera has a high enough resolution that the user can record HD video at 720p. The front camera only records VGA video which is half the resolution of the rear camera. Apple does not list how many megapixels each camera has.

Ipad 2 facetime

This time around the iPad 2 will be available with 3G versions for both AT&T and Verizon. Previously only AT&T was supported.

Accessories and Software

Apple’s accessories at lunch today will have some interesting functionality. First there is the Smart Cover which magnetically adheres to the iPad and folds off and turns into a stand. It will also trigger a sensor in the iPad which puts the device to sleep when the cover is in place over the display. Remove it to wake up. The underside is micro-fiber which cleans fingerprints off the screen.

The second accessory Apple is releasing with the new iPad is an adapter which allows the user to plug their iPad into an HDMI port on another display. It is similar to the previous VGA adapter with two important differences. The new adapter allows the user to charge the iPad because it has a USB port. One can also sync the iPad while it is connected to the dongle. The second important difference is the new adapter will mirror what is on the iPad display on the external display. That way every single app that runs on the iPad can be shown on the external display. This is huge for people who teach or make public presentations using their iPad. This adapter will work with the original iPad.

Ipad video mirroring

With the release of the iPad 2 there are two new apps that Apple is launching on March 11 to coincide with the iPad’s release. The first is iMovie, which brings video editing to the iPad. The second allows musicians to play music, record music and create other musical content. It is called GarageBand. It is likely these will work on the old iPad too. But they might not have the full functionality they do on the second gen iPad. Each of these will be $4.99.

Unchanged Features

What hasn’t changed? Here are the key specs that are the same between the two versions of the iPad:

  • the display size is still 9.7 inches
  • resolution is the same
  • battery life has not decreased
  • the price points are identical
  • camera kit and VGA adapter should still work

Should I Upgrade?

The answer to the question will be different for everyone. Looking at the above new features, do you expect to need or really want any of them? If you are a person who makes presentations with the iPad, definitely get the new dongle. Test it on your old iPad and if it works the way you want, you don’t need to upgrade. But if it doesn’t, take the jump.

We can see musicians or movie editors definitely wanting the new apps releasing on March 11th. But after trying them on the old iPad you may find they don’t have the full functionality they do on the new one. Then take the leap.

The other specs will influence your decision as well. Can you see yourself needing a faster processor? Was the original iPad too slow for you? We  don’t very many people will say yes. The camera might become a killer feature for people. Not just for recording video and taking pictures. We think holding an iPad up to do that will feel awkward. If that’s the only new feature you want, just go out and buy a $500 DSLR with video capability. You will be much happier. Don’t need all that, then a good point and shoot will be a better option. But if you want the camera for video conferencing and plan to use it as a scanner at meetings where people are handing you pages of notes, then having that rear camera where you can “scan” the document into the iPad and mark it up using a stylus might be a huge upgrade for you.

If you do upgrade and want to sell your old iPad to make up the cost, do it quickly. Don’t wait till March 11 if you can stand to be without your iPad for a few days. Places like eBay are still getting premium prices, but that will change as news of the iPad 2 release spreads. Already we have seen significant drops in the price that gadget buying sites like Gazelle.com are paying out for original iPads in near perfect condition.

If you do only get $300 for an older iPad, remember that is only $200 for a year’s use. That’s not that bad.

One other possible use for your old iPad is to give it away. It may be worth a nice tax write off if it is given to charity like a local school teacher you know who can’t afford to buy his or her own iPad.

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