Is The iPad 2 Worth It?

iPad 2 With FaceTimeThe second-generation iPad hits stores today at 5 pm…and when Apple debuts a product, people come running.

Rather than get caught up in the hype, we want to know whether a tablet is worth it in the first place. And, if you get one, which version is best: iPad 1, iPad 2, or a different brand altogether?

 

Brandishing a price tag of $500 to $830, the iPad 2 is an expensive toy. The main features it offers over the iPad 1:

  • It has front and back cameras (the iPad 1 had none), which allow for photo-taking, video-taking, and video-chatting (what Apple calls "FaceTime").
  • It’s 15% lighter and 33% thinner.
  • It has a faster processing speed.
  • It comes in white.
  • Apple has designed an incredibly convenient cover/stand that only fits the iPad 2.

But: Is a tablet worth your money in the first place?

Worth It: Replace Your Laptop.

The cost of a new laptop easily ranges from about $600 to well over $1,000. If you have been considering upgrading your sluggish old laptop, or if you have a household where more than one person needs to use the computer and have been considering buying another laptop, getting a tablet instead might be more sensible. A tablet is more lightweight and portable, can double as a media player on vacations or trips (there is even a holder to strap an iPad to the back of a car's headrest so kids can watch videos in the car), and makes sense if you mainly use the computer for web surfing, light emailing, and watching videos or movies.

If you get an iPad, you won't be able to toss your old laptop completely because you'll still need to connect your iPad to it for backing up data and for software updates. But tablets by Motorola, Samsung, or Dell don’t need to be docked to a computer, so theoretically they could replace a laptop. You’ll probably still need Wi-Fi at home, but you could rely solely on 3G or 4G service if you really wanted to—it’s slower, but it works.

Worth It: Get Grandma Connected.

Tablets are a great transitional device for older folks who are intimidated by the complexity of a computer, but want to be on the internet. One of our staffer's moms didn't want the capabilities of a full-on computer, but she found the tablet intuitive and simple and enjoyed curling up with it on the couch, getting on Facebook and surfing the internet. With the video chatting functions, it's a great way for the older generation to stay in touch with family.

Not Worth It: Do Some Serious Typing.

Anyone who needs to do serious, fast typing will find the small, touchscreen keyboards insufficient. You can buy a keyboard to attach to the device, but most writers say their tablet is for entertainment, and their laptop is for work. So, we’d recommend against using it to take lecture notes in your college course or to get serious work done at the coffee shop.

Not Worth It: Pure Gadgetry.

If you have extra money to burn, then it’s really up to you how strongly you feel about a sleek, white design, snappy cover, and the ability to download all sorts of apps. All the same, if you don’t have a few hundred dollars to spare and you’re getting by just fine with your current computer, you should probably hold off. There are plenty of less expensive ways to satisfy your tech cravings.

If you think a tablet is right for you, here’s the breakdown of your options:

The Bottom Line: We Like The iPad 1.

Now that the iPad 1 is “obsolete,” it’s dropped in price to $399—a comparatively low price if you can do without the sleeker design and cameras of the second generation. You can always knock another $50 off the price by snagging a refurbished iPad (turned in by someone who just bought a new iPad 2, no doubt).

Photo Credit: Apple

  • SarahKate

    What about the Nook Color? I hear that it runs Android software and can easily be converted to a tablet. You have to rely on wifi, but it’s much much cheaper than the ipad. Does anyone know about that or how to do that?

    • Guest

      The Nook Color was designed primarily as an e-reader, which it is excellent at. While it does run on Android, Barnes & Noble has not released the code to allow easily downloading of apps yet. The web browser works just like any other, but is fairly slow. There is no cellular connection, just wi-fi. Most content not purchased directly from Barnes & Noble has to be side-loaded from a computer. I’ve had mine since it first came out and absolutely love it. I can read library e-books at no additional cost.

    • Guest

      The Nook Color was designed primarily as an e-reader, which it is excellent at. While it does run on Android, Barnes & Noble has not released the code to allow easily downloading of apps yet. The web browser works just like any other, but is fairly slow. There is no cellular connection, just wi-fi. Most content not purchased directly from Barnes & Noble has to be side-loaded from a computer. I’ve had mine since it first came out and absolutely love it. I can read library e-books at no additional cost.

  • SarahKate

    What about the Nook Color? I hear that it runs Android software and can easily be converted to a tablet. You have to rely on wifi, but it’s much much cheaper than the ipad. Does anyone know about that or how to do that?

  • http://neatfreakwannabe.blogspot.com Jenna

    You can buy a great laptop nowadays for $300-500, so I’m not sure the point on the iPad being cheaper than a laptop is really that valid, especially since you still need that laptop to sync & update your iPad. $600-1000 seems pretty steep (unless you’re buying a Mac) for most of us, who probably don’t need all the fancy features and huge amounts of storage space on the higher end machines.

    Great tip on buying refurbished, though – those can be great deals. Apple offers a 1-year warranty on its refurbished merchandise, so you’re protected if it doesn’t work.

  • http://neatfreakwannabe.blogspot.com Jenna

    You can buy a great laptop nowadays for $300-500, so I’m not sure the point on the iPad being cheaper than a laptop is really that valid, especially since you still need that laptop to sync & update your iPad. $600-1000 seems pretty steep (unless you’re buying a Mac) for most of us, who probably don’t need all the fancy features and huge amounts of storage space on the higher end machines.

    Great tip on buying refurbished, though – those can be great deals. Apple offers a 1-year warranty on its refurbished merchandise, so you’re protected if it doesn’t work.

  • http://neatfreakwannabe.blogspot.com Jenna

    You can buy a great laptop nowadays for $300-500, so I’m not sure the point on the iPad being cheaper than a laptop is really that valid, especially since you still need that laptop to sync & update your iPad. $600-1000 seems pretty steep (unless you’re buying a Mac) for most of us, who probably don’t need all the fancy features and huge amounts of storage space on the higher end machines.

    Great tip on buying refurbished, though – those can be great deals. Apple offers a 1-year warranty on its refurbished merchandise, so you’re protected if it doesn’t work.

  • http://twitter.com/kclmoneycoach Kelley C. Long, CPA

    Thank you so much for this info – I’ve been trying to help my parents decide what to buy to replace my mom’s work laptop when she retires this spring, and this helps tremendously!

  • http://twitter.com/kclmoneycoach Kelley C. Long, CPA

    Thank you so much for this info – I’ve been trying to help my parents decide what to buy to replace my mom’s work laptop when she retires this spring, and this helps tremendously!

  • Anonymous

    I would love to have one but can’t afford it. Would be a very handy tool.

  • Anonymous

    I would love to have one but can’t afford it. Would be a very handy tool.

  • tortiequeen

    i love my ipad, i don’t need a camera, my cel has one if i need it and akthough i wish it were lighter. I think it is pretty perfect for a non-work system. I have to use a non-,ac at work. It is nice to have something that doesnt have the glitches and works every time i turn it on.

  • tortiequeen

    i love my ipad, i don’t need a camera, my cel has one if i need it and akthough i wish it were lighter. I think it is pretty perfect for a non-work system. I have to use a non-,ac at work. It is nice to have something that doesnt have the glitches and works every time i turn it on.

  • dotz 77

    I’m going to spring for the iPad 2 to give to my parents before I move overseas. It would be impossible to stay connected via their awfully archaic desktop. Main reason for the 2 vs first gen is the camera, plain and simple. They are going to flip out!

  • dotz 77

    I’m going to spring for the iPad 2 to give to my parents before I move overseas. It would be impossible to stay connected via their awfully archaic desktop. Main reason for the 2 vs first gen is the camera, plain and simple. They are going to flip out!

  • Laura

    I’d go for the iPad in a heartbeat if it weren’t for the whole FLASH thing. I have an iPhone now, and I hate not being able to view Flash on it. I wouldn’t pay extra for a device that continues to limit me, has limiting browsing abilities, AND doesn’t do well with wide-screen movies. I just don’t want an Android device either from what I’ve heard of all the malware problems. If Apple would just get over the whole Adobe thing, there would be more Apple customers and more apps for us to enjoy! Argh, why Steve, WHY!?

  • Laura

    I’d go for the iPad in a heartbeat if it weren’t for the whole FLASH thing. I have an iPhone now, and I hate not being able to view Flash on it. I wouldn’t pay extra for a device that continues to limit me, has limiting browsing abilities, AND doesn’t do well with wide-screen movies. I just don’t want an Android device either from what I’ve heard of all the malware problems. If Apple would just get over the whole Adobe thing, there would be more Apple customers and more apps for us to enjoy! Argh, why Steve, WHY!?

  • Laura

    I’d go for the iPad in a heartbeat if it weren’t for the whole FLASH thing. I have an iPhone now, and I hate not being able to view Flash on it. I wouldn’t pay extra for a device that continues to limit me, has limiting browsing abilities, AND doesn’t do well with wide-screen movies. I just don’t want an Android device either from what I’ve heard of all the malware problems. If Apple would just get over the whole Adobe thing, there would be more Apple customers and more apps for us to enjoy! Argh, why Steve, WHY!?

  • Davies Tori

    I use my iPad 1 for taking notes in college. Actually, I bought it to replace my laptop (broke). I bought a used (feels brand new) wireless keyboard for it from Amazon for $40. I tale it to the Starbucks down the street every day and it’s very light to carry, and I do “serious work” on it for 8-12 hour study days. I have an app called Evernote which I take notes with. It’s actually incredibly convenient, super light to carry, and it was definitely worth the money. I bought the cheapest iPad and MobileMe for extra memory, instead of the less memory capable and more expensive deal (the next iPad up). 

    Just learn to think outside the box a little. Actually I’ve had multiple people approach me to ask about my keyboard, where I got it, and if it makes my iPad easier to use for things besides messing around online. I use it solely for school. The only complaint I have are that I’m annoyed I bought the iPad 1 and didn’t know about this version having a camera. They should have put a camera on the first version. I thought that was ridiculous. Also, the fact I can’t see anything Flash-related. Come on already! I have to go to our ancient desktop to see anything like that. My husband wanted to buy one for himself after seeing mine but I’m such a spendthrift I convinced him my iPad is our “family iPad” and I just leave it out for him to use to play games. It’s used more than his alienware laptop, our desktop, and my iPhone/his Android now.

  • Davies Tori

    I use my iPad 1 for taking notes in college. Actually, I bought it to replace my laptop (broke). I bought a used (feels brand new) wireless keyboard for it from Amazon for $40. I tale it to the Starbucks down the street every day and it’s very light to carry, and I do “serious work” on it for 8-12 hour study days. I have an app called Evernote which I take notes with. It’s actually incredibly convenient, super light to carry, and it was definitely worth the money. I bought the cheapest iPad and MobileMe for extra memory, instead of the less memory capable and more expensive deal (the next iPad up). 

    Just learn to think outside the box a little. Actually I’ve had multiple people approach me to ask about my keyboard, where I got it, and if it makes my iPad easier to use for things besides messing around online. I use it solely for school. The only complaint I have are that I’m annoyed I bought the iPad 1 and didn’t know about this version having a camera. They should have put a camera on the first version. I thought that was ridiculous. Also, the fact I can’t see anything Flash-related. Come on already! I have to go to our ancient desktop to see anything like that. My husband wanted to buy one for himself after seeing mine but I’m such a spendthrift I convinced him my iPad is our “family iPad” and I just leave it out for him to use to play games. It’s used more than his alienware laptop, our desktop, and my iPhone/his Android now.

  • Davies Tori

    I use my iPad 1 for taking notes in college. Actually, I bought it to replace my laptop (broke). I bought a used (feels brand new) wireless keyboard for it from Amazon for $40. I tale it to the Starbucks down the street every day and it’s very light to carry, and I do “serious work” on it for 8-12 hour study days. I have an app called Evernote which I take notes with. It’s actually incredibly convenient, super light to carry, and it was definitely worth the money. I bought the cheapest iPad and MobileMe for extra memory, instead of the less memory capable and more expensive deal (the next iPad up). 

    Just learn to think outside the box a little. Actually I’ve had multiple people approach me to ask about my keyboard, where I got it, and if it makes my iPad easier to use for things besides messing around online. I use it solely for school. The only complaint I have are that I’m annoyed I bought the iPad 1 and didn’t know about this version having a camera. They should have put a camera on the first version. I thought that was ridiculous. Also, the fact I can’t see anything Flash-related. Come on already! I have to go to our ancient desktop to see anything like that. My husband wanted to buy one for himself after seeing mine but I’m such a spendthrift I convinced him my iPad is our “family iPad” and I just leave it out for him to use to play games. It’s used more than his alienware laptop, our desktop, and my iPhone/his Android now.

  • Sheila

    I tried out a family member’s over Christmas and wasn’t all that impressed. They are great for watching movies or playing games, but I miss the lack of a keyboard so it wasn’t for me. I have a laptop with a 17″ screen that I paid less than $400 for and I’d much prefer that over an iPad.

  • i luv ipad 2

    I think motorola xoom is OK because my sister has it and I use it. My sis has been bugging me to get Motorola xoom or Samsung galaxy because it has flash I really don’t care if ipad doesn’t have flash its really like a big iPod touch I had iPod touch3g and i liked it. probably it has all the features ipod3 had without camera but then came out iPod touch4g and now it probably has all features with camera and over a year I’ve been saving money to buy ipad2 in white (I like white apple products) I personally like it. When I go to the mall there is a store called best buy Mobil and they have I pad 2 in display and I’m always touching it