iPad2 unveiled – is it really iPad V1.1?

Steve Jobs last night unveiled the iPad 2, the second generation of the gadget that introduced the tablet computer to the world.

Almost 15 million iPads have been sold around the world so the announcement of the iPad 2 was eagerly anticipated with daily alleged ‘leaks’ and stories from Elton John’s supposed informed slip that it would launch in March (although he probably just read’s the same tech blogs as the rest of us) to last week’s claims that iPad 2 production had been delayed by 2 months pushing launch into June.

Back in reality, the well-oiled Apple product and presentation machine announced the new iPad in March and first deliveries will hit stores on March 11 in the US and March 25 in 26 more countries, presumably including the UK. Pricing will match that of the current iPad.  Expect iPad on Contract deals to be announced by the UK mobile phone operators very soon.

So what’s new in iPad 2? Not as much as you might expect. It has the same display as before but an ‘all-new’ product design that’s 33% slimmer and 15% lighter.  There’s a new dual core A5 processor that delivers faster performance, with graphics rendered up to 9 times faster which should make gaming and movie editing much much slicker.  The iPad 2 also comes in white and black, although the back is still the lovely aluminium.

The rumoured, and much needed, cameras have been added with a VGA front facing camera for video calling via FaceTime and presumably Skype.  A rear facing camera captures ‘720p video’ which presumably makes it a roughly 3 megapixel camera.The video calling feature will delight many folk, mainly work away Dad’s and geo-divided families, but I have to say I rarely use it on my Mac so I’m less excited than some.  I’ve no idea what use the rear facing camera has so far – the iPad 2 is going to  be pretty unwieldy to use as a camcorder or for augmented reality Apps and games.  Answers on a postcard…

The other major design ‘change’ is the additional of an optional cover that doubles up as stand.  The jury is still out on this accessory.

Jobs waxed lyrical as ever, spinning the new second coming as he always does.  His use of language and reference to the copy cat tablets from Samsung and HP suggests the iPad 2 is really a defensive move, aimed at keeping half a step ahead of the competition rather than reinventing the iPad all over again.

“With more than 15 million iPads sold, iPad has defined an entirely new category of mobile devices,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “While others have been scrambling to copy the first generation iPad, we’re launching iPad 2, which moves the bar far ahead of the competition and will likely cause them to go back to the drawing boards yet again.”

So the iPad 2 will undoubtedly be a huge success and it is an improvement, but you should view this as a smaller step like the difference between the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 3G.  Expect more innovation in the inevitable iPad 3 this time next year.

Oh, and if you’re not bothered about cameras, a little bloatedness and the need to run video heavy Apps why not buy the iPad 1 when prices are slashed by retailers over the next few weeks!

Do ilove the iPad?

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post on GadgetStylist. The day job has taken up all my time in the past few months. Funnily enough its the day job – working for Review Centre – that has given me the chance to write once more, thanks to my chance to play with an iPad…

When Apple announced the iPad I was impressed by the gadget behind the hype and felt that I needed one in my life – but I was unsure why.  I already have an iPhone and Macbook so what could I possibly use an iPad for? Perhaps playing with one for an evening would help me figure this out?

The iPad PositionI was also concerned about the ergonomics. Laptops sit nicely on your lap with the screen angled pretty well whether you’re watching iPlayer or browsing websites.  The iPad, whilst sexy and slim, needs to be held or propped up when in use.  The Apple promo videos all seem to feature the demonstrator sitting with their legs crossed or hanging over the arm of a sofa with the iPad propped up on their knees – is this to be known as ‘the iPad position‘?

Anyway, Review Centre is giving away an iPad as part of a competition and that gave me the chance to play with the prize before it was safely locked away…

First impressions, the iPad really is a very cool, highly desirable piece of kit.  Its ridiculously slim, feels wonderful in your hands and the build quality is simply ‘solid’.  It oozes style.  In many ways the iPad resembles a giant iPod Touch with the same single ‘home’ button on the front, simple volume controls, mute switch and power/sleep mode button – which is no bad thing.iPad

One criticism is the lack of a built in camera.  Several friends have mentioned this as something that would put them off buying a first generation iPad as they wouldn’t be able to have video calls with family and friends.

Switching on the iPad, you’re presented with the iPhone operating system that so many of us are now accustomed to – but on a huge scale.  As you can see from any screen shot all your Apps and the main functions are again represented by those iconic rounded square icons.  Business as usual. The addition of customizing the background image and a landscape version of the icons is a nice if frivolous feature that will surely come to the iPhone itself in OS4.

Web browsing on the iPad is probably the best feature when the product is fresh out of the box.  Using the multi-touch commands to scroll and zoom around a website is so much more engaging and fun than using a mouse or touchpad.  The large display makes a huge difference when compared with the iPhone.  However the omission of Flash, which has been discussed at length elsewhere, means the experience of web browsing is compromised on some websites.

Where the iPad will live or die is by the Apps that are built for it.  The handful of Apps I got to try where good if not ground breaking but this is just the beginning.  App developers the world over will be beavering away at creating Apps that really define what the iPad can do.ipad-2

The huge display means Apps have a lot more room to play with. For instance, the Mail feature is much easier to use than on an iPhone because you can have your inbox and messages open on one page.  The beefy processor should enable multi-tasking in future software updates and will enable plenty of App innovation.

The handful of games I tried were fun and more engaging due to the bigger screen if a little gimicky.  I think the iPad could be great for RPGs and strategy games as the multi-touch interface should be perfect for marshaling your troops or planning attacks on rival castles.

So, my first impressions are mixed.  Out of the box it’s a super-sized iPod Touch, but without the portability.  Hmm, so why would someone want an iPad? I think it would be great for keeping the kids entertained, awesome for watching movies on a flight (with the addition of a stand accessory) and it will find its place as a casual web browsing and entertainment device in the home.  I quite like the idea of putting an iPad on a stand in the kitchen and letting Jamie or Gordon take me through cooking a recipe step by step!

Do I still want one of my own?  Yes.  Do I know why? Not really – but I’m confident that the Apps that come out will unlock it’s full potential in the coming months.

The iPad launches in the UK in late May with the Apple store taking orders from May 10.  Orange, Vodafone and O2 have all announced they will launch the 3G version of the iPad too.

O2 Joggler – Digital family organiser or glorified digital photo frame?

O2 JogglerO2 have announced the launch of the Joggler, a 7 inch touchscreen device which they are promoting as a connected family organiser.

Looking like a slightly chubby digital photo frame, O2 have designed the Joggler (awful name!) to sit in your kitchen or living room and act as an information hub for the family that will track everyone’s diaries, sending text reminders for important events. There will even be a service that lets you nag your kids to the tune of 50 texts per month.  Alternatively your kids could use it to nag you…

The Joggler can also be used as a digital photo frame, calendar, radio and music player.  It uses WiFi to download the latest news and sport from Sky, as well as traffic and weather information.

O2 Marketing Director Alistair Johnston said “We’ve developed the O2 Joggler with today’s busy families in mind. It has been purpose built to help families better organise their lives.”

I’m a little sceptical that the Joggler will be a success.  It seems to be positioned to satisfy the needs of an idyllic, close-knit middle class family life that only exists in the Sunday broadsheet supplements. Is it realistic to expect troublesome ‘tweenies’ to share their social plans on a device that their Mum and Dad will scrutinise? If no-one bothers to write a post-it note advising Mum when the Marmite runs out why would they invest three times the effort to leave an electronic version of the same thing?  Maybe I’m just too much of a skeptic about modern family life.

Sadly, I think the Joggler will quickly become an overpriced, under-spec’d digital photo frame in most homes.  That said it is good to see innovation and investment in new types of connected devices that suggest new roles for technology which may just make family life that little bit easier for those living the middle class dream.

For the princely sum of £149.99, or by foregoing your handset upgrade when renewing your contract, you will be able to get your hands on a Joggler in April.

Read more at O2.co.uk

Win a Nintendo Wii! Gadget Stylist’s Christmas Phone Review Competition

Review your mobile phone and you could win a Nintendo Wii!

We’ve launched another one of our popular Review Competitions. Because it’s Christmas we’ve been feeling all festive and generous so we’re offering our biggest prize yet – a Nintendo Wii!

The perfect antidote to endless, boring games of Trivial Pursuit on Christmas Day; the Nintendo Wii is the first games console that even your Granny can play.

All you need to do is leave the best mobile phone or mobile broadband review by the 15th of December.

How do I enter?

It’s easy.  All you have to do is:

  1. Register or Login to GadgetStylist.com.
  2. Use the Quick Finder on the Home page to find your mobile phone or mobile broadband modem or click on the image of your current phone in the Welcome box.
  3. Click on the Rate this Phone button on the phone’s Profile page.
  4. Write a great review!

The winning review will be honest, entertaining and opinionated.  Let everyone know what you love and loathe about your mobile.

You only need to write a couple of paragraphs – see the previous winning entries below. All reviews are welcome, whether you love or hate your phone.

Some previous winning reviews:

  • Cher1981 won an iPod Shuffle with her Samsung L770 review
  • civicboy40 won £50 in Amazon vouchers with his Sony Ericsson P1i review
  • forcefed_vw won a Sony Ericsson K850i for his Sony Ericsson M600 review

More advice:

Read What Mobile founder Simon Rockman’s tips for writing a great mobile phone review.

What are my chances of winning?

Forget the lottery – you’re only competing against the other people leaving reviews in November and December so your chances of winning are really high. So get reviewing now! It only takes 10 minutes to register and submit your review.

Don’t be shy – you can review more than one phone.  Perhaps you have a work phone and a personal phone or maybe you recently changed phones and fancy reviewing both  – just don’t make stuff up or copy other people’s reviews from other sites as you’ll be disqualified and publically shamed if caught!

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James Bond’s Top Ten Gadgets – rated by Gadget Stylist!!

To celebrate the launch of the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, I’ve rated James Bond’s top ten gadgets. Visit the site and you can vote for your favourite too!

I picked through Bond’s most innovative, memorable and silly gadgets to pull together a list that includes the crocodile mini-submarine, the amphibious Lotus Esprit and killer bagpipes!  As you can probably imagine I thoroughly enjoyed myself. :o)

Which Bond gadget do you think came top???  Visit Top Ten James Bond Gadgets to find out.