Let me start off by saying this: I had to wait in line for my iPad 2 just like everyone else. (Perhaps not as long as everyone else, since one of our writers was nice enough to arrive hours before I did) The point is, many of us that are used to getting our hands on gear before release were pretty much in the same position you guys were when it came to getting our hands on the iPad 2. The Good news? It was worth the effort.

Since we’ll have our full review in a few days (you know us…we like to live with our gadgets for a while before we write about them!), I thought I’d jot down a few early impressions just to whet your appetite for what’s to come.

It’s thin. Really thin. I know you’ve already heard about how Apple was able to shave away about 1/3 of the original iPad’s thickness, but handling the iPad 2 for the first time is still a bit shocking. I know this may sound nuts, but it may be a bit too thin. I never had issue with the original’s heft–in fact, I personally feel it made it a bit easier to hold. I do, however, appreciate the new iPad’s drop in weight. Though .2 pounds may not seem like that much, on a device that only weighed 1.5 pounds to begin with, you can definitely feel the difference.

It’s fast. Really fast. This was the first thing I noticed. Though increased browsing speed (thanks to the iOS 4.3 update) is not so noticeable on the original iPad or iPhone 4, it’s very apparent on the iPad 2. Not only do web pages load faster, they also refresh faster–it’s a huge improvement over the original, and users will no longer have to scroll down a page to be greeted by a checkerboard; though the faster browsing can be attributed to the faster processor, the faster refresh rate is a direct result of Apple upping the iPad 2′s RAM to 512mb. (The original only had 256) Of course the increase in horsepower also means better app performance and higher frame rates; bottom line? It’s fast.

The Smart Cover is cool. Really cool. I’m a sucker for great engineering, and I have to say the new Smart Covers live up to the hype. The cover really does attach itself; the magnetic spine grabs the side of your iPad 2 and instantly aligns itself to cover the glass–I also love how the imbedded magnets automatically put the iPad 2 to sleep when closed, and wake it up when opened…very Blackberrylicious. But as my brother-in-law pointed out, as cool as the Smart Cover is, it doesn’t exactly leave you feeling protected. I like knowing that my new investment is safe should “life” happen; and though the Smart Cover may be designed to protect your iPad 2′s front glass, it offers nothing for the back of your device–or any drop protection whatsoever. As soon as the Scosche foldIO case for iPad 2 comes out, you know what mine will be wearing…

So there you have it: some brief thoughts about the iPad 2. Mason will have our full review in a few days, so make sure you check back.

…and good luck waiting in those lines.

 

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