Six iPad 2 Additions I’d Like to See: The Scorecard

[Updated 11:30 a.m. PST with details from today’s iPad 2 event, which just ended.]

Earlier today, as an appetizer before Apple’s media event unveiling the iPad 2, I published encore version of my iPad 2 predictions and wish list from January 7, 2011. Now I’ve updated the post to score how well my predictions played out. These were all features I said I’d most like to see in the new iPad, beyond the easily predictable ones such as cameras. Turns out I scored about 2.75 points out of a possible 7, which is actually better than I was expecting.

1. Haptic Feedback.

This is my second-favorite feature on the Galaxy Tab, Samsung’s 7-inch tablet device. (My first favorite is the rear-facing camera.) When this option is turned on, the whole device vibrates briefly and subtly every time your finger taps a soft key, giving you a bit of confirmation. Unlike just about everyone else I know, I like to type on my iPad, and I’ve gotten pretty good at it. But the secret, I’ve found, is that you have to watch where you’re typing. If you take your eyes off your fingers for one second, your hands are likely to slide off-target, creating gobbledygook on screen. Haptic feedback would help prevent this and make something like touch typing conceivable on the iPad.

Scorecard: 0 points for me. No haptic feedback in the iPad 2.

2. Batteries that Recharge Faster.

Battery life isn’t an issue with the iPad—I regularly go two or three days between charges. That’s a pretty remarkable fact, when you think about how long we’ve been living with laptops that die after three or four hours of use. But if your iPad battery meter is in the red zone and you need to plug it in, you’d better be sure you aren’t going to need it for the next few hours—the recharge time on this puppy is loooong. (In tests of the iPad 3G, Gizmodo found that it took between 2.5 hours and 7.6 hours to reach an 80 percent charge, depending on the method used.) I know recharge time is a simple matter of physics: the bigger the batteries, the longer they take to recharge, and the iPad has two huge 3.75-volt Lithium-ion polymer jobs. But if Apple could figure out a way to speed this up—or to put smaller batteries into the iPad 2 without sacrificing battery life—that would be nifty.

Scorecard: Another 0. The batteries in the iPad 2 appear to have the same characteristics as those in the original iPad—roughly 10 hours of battery life and 1 month of standby time.

3. I Don’t Care If It’s Thinner, But Make It Lighter, Please.

When I picked up an iPad for the first time, my first reaction was “This thing is sweet.” My second reaction was “This thing is heavy.” Those giant batteries, plus the thick slab of glass over the iPad’s display, contribute to an overall weight of 1.5 pounds (0.68 kg; the 3G model is 0.05 kg heavier). I like the fact that the iPad feels substantial—it would be pretty awful it felt bendy or plasticky. But it’s too heavy to hold in one hand for extended periods without muscle fatigue. Trimming half a pound would help enormously.

Scorecard: Half a point for me. The iPad 2 is 2/3 the thickness of the original iPad, and is also slightly lighter—601 grams for the Wi-Fi version and 607 to 613 grams for the 3G version, or about 1.33 pounds. But I doubt whether the 80-gram difference is enough of a savings in weight to make the iPad 2 feel all that different in your hand.

4. An Ergonomic Grip or Kickstand.

My parents got an iPad recently, and over the holidays I had a chance to watch them using it. My dad doesn’t like to grip the gadget from the side, as his thumb tends to stray into the touchscreen area, causing havoc. So he puts the iPad in the little kickstand my mom bought and holds that. But that’s precarious, because the kickstand is intended as a prop for the iPad on a table or desktop, not as a handle or grip; the iPad isn’t secured in it but merely rests through gravity, so it could fall out if he let it tip. (There are special iPad holders designed for what my dad was doing; I should probably get him one.) Anyway, all of this got me stewing again about Apple’s occasional tendency to … Next Page »

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Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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