is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Vice President of User Experience at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. You can reach him through one of the services below.+
Early in April, I decided to order an iPad 2 directly from Apple, after giving up hope that I’d be able to just saunter into an Apple Store and pick one up at my leisure, at least anytime soon. Once ordered it took sixteen days to arrive, which isn’t too bad, and I’ve been using it consistently since.
Here are some random thoughts on my first few weeks of usage.
- Subjectively speaking, this new model feels modestly faster but not significantly faster than its predecessor. I’m not a gamer at all, so I can’t speak to any acceleration in its graphic performance that might positively impact gameplay. But any gains in speed that might positively affect the performance of more routine apps felt slight to me, and I grew accustomed to the new speediness within a day.
- The camera is awful. It’s grainy and ugly and an embarrassment in 2011.
- I’m really having a hard time with the Smart Cover. It’s more difficult to fold back than it should be, and it comes unhinged (i.e., the magnets detach) far too easily. And, not that I expected it to provide any protection for the device’s vulnerable and apparently dent-prone metal back, but because it doesn’t it’s not a complete solution, to my mind. If you ever expect to drop your iPad (I do) you’ll need something more than this. When the Smart Cover was announced I thought it was an improvement over the basically inept case that Apple produced for its first iPad; I still agree with that sentiment, but I now think it’s only a very modest improvement.
- The new model is definitely lighter and easier to hold in a single hand, which I think may be its primary benefit.
- Video out, via the sold-separately VGA adapter is painless and wonderful. Last Monday I used it to give a crucial demo to a crucial audience for a project I’m currently working on. It was my first time projecting from an iPad and it was their first time watching a demo projected from an iPad, and it went great. However, watching someone use iOS on a projected screen — without being able to see where their finger is at any given time — is slightly disconcerting. Apple should create an option to display some kind of cursor on the external display.
- Wi-fi performance is improved, at least according to my preferred metric for judging wi-fi performance on iOS, which is: how quickly does Apple’s Remote app re-connect to my Apple TV or any other iTunes library on my network? The iPad 2 pulls this off a few milliseconds more quickly than did the original iPad. It’s still not as quick as it should be — it should be so instantaneous as to seem as if the app never loses the connection — but I’ll take any improvement over none.
- The home button might be quieter than it was on the older model. The reason I think this is because when I press it at say 3:00 in the morning, suffering from insomnia and trying not to wake up my girlfriend who is sleeping soundly next to me, it doesn’t seem to be quite as disruptively loud. A small but welcome improvement.
Finally, I have yet to come up with a clear plan for what to do with my first-generation iPad. I could sell it, I know, but I feel like there should be some clever use that I can make for it around the house or something. Anyone have any great ideas?+