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Top five reasons to buy an iPad 2 (and five reasons not to)

If you've got £400 burning a hole in your pocket, let us tempt you to spend it on an iPad 2. If not, let us tell you why you should put down the credit card and walk away.

Looking to convince a hesitant spouse or bank manager that you absolutely must have an iPad 2? Or are you searching for a reason to get your tablet fix elsewhere? Either way, we've got all the answers.

Top five reasons to buy an iPad 2

  1. It's cheap. The least expensive iPad 2, the 16GB Wi-Fi only version, is a paltry £399. That's cheaper than the original iPad, when it was launched. It's also £100 cheaper than the least expensive Motorola Xoom, the iPad 2's first Android competitor.
  2. It's the most exciting gaming and software platform you can buy. The Apple App Store is a hotbed of innovation, whether you're interested in playing games or reading the latest multimedia magazines. It can't beat a console for immersive gaming, or a desktop computer for powerful programs. But the connectivity and touchscreen of the iPad 2 and its smart phone siblings is tempting the most imaginative developers to have a go at creating something fresh for the App Store's shelves. 
  3. It's fun for the kids. The iPad 2 is the ultimate toy, and it's easy enough that even babies can use it. Apps for learning and reading are abundant and are better for baby's brain than watching telly. Just don't show them how to play their favourite video, or they'll finally satisfy their urge to watch Peppa Pig for 50 hours on the trot. The downside is that when you take it away, they cry.
  4. It's easy to use. The iPad 2's user interface defines simplicity -- it has a grid of icons, and you tap the one you want. There's one, giant round button on the front, and when you press it, it always takes you back home. Sure, there are menus and lots of other functions, but that's the core and it's comprehensible whether you're young, old or just drunk.
  5. It looks sexy. The aluminium case on the iPad 2 does add to the weight compared to the lightest plastic, but it looks the business and feels solid, despite its wafer-thin form. It's skinnier than an iPhone 4, and thanks to its tapered edge it looks like a slip of paper. In terms of simple craveability, the iPad 2 steals the show.

Top five reasons NOT to buy an iPad 2

  1. It's expensive. Once you've got past the initial layout, the iPad 2 has its hand in your pocket all day long via the App Store and iTunes. Although there are zillions of great free apps in the App Store, the paid ones tend to be pricier than those in the Android Market. And, although 99p to rent a movie from iTunes sounds cheap, it's much more than the 99 cents charged to our American friends. Once you start delving into TV programmes, it's still more expensive -- £2.49 for 20 minutes of our favourite new shows. Plus, if you've got the 3G iPad 2, you'll also have to pay for any data you use. 
  2. You can't put all your stuff on it. If you buy all your movies and TV from iTunes, it works like a charm. But if you have videos from another source, like downloads or your own home movies, it's not as easy to get them on to the iPad 2. It's definitely possible -- there are some great apps for streaming or converting your videos -- but it's not as effortless as it should be. If the iPad 2 played more formats, and handled movies at least as well as it handled music, we'd love it a lot more.
  3. There's no Flash. The iPad 2 is great for surfing the Web, because it's fast and accurate. But it doesn't support Flash so there are often holes where videos, audio and photo galleries should be. If you're wondering why, we'll let Steve Jobs answer that for us. But until the whole Internet has been redesigned, the iPad 2 will miss out on a chunk of it.
  4. It doesn't do real work. The iPad 2 doesn't replace a laptop, because it's weird to type on -- the angles don't quite make sense -- and you can't do many basic tasks necessary to get worky things done efficiently. For example, you can't attach files to an email within the email client, and you can't look at two windows side by side. At a push, you can edit documents on the Web and catch up on your email, but don't expect to replace your real computer if you want to do much more than that.
  5. It doesn't play nicely with others. Apple has flaunted its Facetime app as the resurrection of video calling, but you can only call other people with the latest Apple gear. That means the iPhone 4, latest iPod touch, iPad 2, or Apple computer. It also only works over Wi-Fi , not a 3G connection.