iPad 2 vs iPad: Should you upgrade to the new Apple tablet?

The iPad 2 has finally arrived, leaving just one burning question in its wake: should you splash out on Apple's new tablet, or stick with the original iPad?

The iPad 2 has finally arrived, leaving just one burning question in its wake: should you splash out on Apple's new tablet, or stick with the original iPad? Is it time to put the older iPad out to pasture, or has there never been a better time to snap one up?

We've already pitted the iPad 2 against its Android tablet rivals , but it's now about to face its toughest opponent: its older sibling. Whether you're already an iPad owner or you're considering becoming one, the choice is between the new, cutting-edge, nothing-cooler iPad 2 and the venerable iPad. Ignoring the halo of smugness you'll get from knowing you're the earliest adopter on the block, is upgrading to an iPad 2 really worth the extra money when there's a perfectly good iPad already available?

Whichever version you go for, you'll get a portable, touch-sensitive, multimedia marvel. The iPad is a dream to use, offering slick scrolling, well-laid-out programs and a smorgasbord of apps to download from the iTunes App Store. Neither iPad runs Flash, and switching between apps is slightly fiddly, but it's the market leader for a reason.

Size matters

The iPad 2 is significantly thinner than its predecessor -- it's even thinner than an iPhone 4 -- and much lighter too. That gives it a significant advantage over the original iPad, which can feel heavy after you've held it for a while. Click play on the video below to see the two tablets sitting side by side.

 

All white

If you've got your heart set on a white iPad, you'll have to go for the iPad 2. The original iPad only comes in black.

The need for speed

We expected the dual-core iPad 2 to be significantly faster than iPad the elder, and it is, but it seems that a fair proportion of the extra speed is due to the software rather than the hardware. Install iOS 4.3, the latest version of Apple's operating system, on your original iPad and you'll get a healthy speed boost without having to pay a penny.

When it comes to everyday tasks like surfing the Web and opening apps, there's not much to choose between the two tablets.

Software it well

The iPad 2 brings with it iPad versions of software from Apple's full-sized computers -- iMovie is for video editing and GarageBand is for making and mixing music. iMovie doesn't run on the older iPad, but GarageBand will run on either, so you can make beautiful music no matter which device you choose. 

Screen queen

The most disappointing aspect of the iPad 2 is that its screen hasn't been upgraded. It's still the same 9.7-inch display with the same 1,024x768-pixel resolution, so, again, there's little to choose between the two devices.

The iPad 2 does have an edge  over its older bro, however, thanks to its GPU, which provides more detail and texture during graphics-heavy tasks.

Camera

The iPad 2's biggest advantage over the iPad is that it has two cameras: one for taking pictures and video, and one for video calling. If video calling is the most exciting thing you've ever heard of, then stop reading, buy an iPad 2, and enjoy your day.

If you're not fussed about video calling, we suggest you stick with the original iPad, as the camera on the iPad 2 is embarrassingly titchy. With a resolution of less than a megapixel, it probably isn't even as good as the camera on your phone.

Forking out

The iPad 2 starts at £399 and could cost you up to £659 . The original iPad now starts at £329, or as little as £100 if you're prepared to commit to a two-year contract with a phone network -- although you could end up paying plenty in the long run as the monthly payments add up.

If saving moolah is more of a concern than having the latest kit, the original iPad is worth a punt.

Stick or twist?

The iPad 2 will no doubt be one of the hottest gadgets of the year, and it deserves to be. If you've made up your mind to buy it, we can now help you make up your mind about which iPad 2 is the one for you .

But, if you already have an iPad, or you're torn between the two, the original device is still pretty tempting. Not only is it still one of the best tablets on the market, but it offers many of the features of the iPad 2. Buying it now could also save you a few quid, but you'll have to live with the fact that you're not toting the latest tech.

Will you be the coolest kid on the close with a brand-spanking-new iPad 2, or will you stick to your lived-in original iPad? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Facebook wall.

Tags:
Tablets
About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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