Used iPad or New iPad2 - and why?
March 24, 2011 5:15 AM   Subscribe

eBay (UK) is currently offering the original iPads starting at around £270 (for 16Gb wifi only). The new iPad2 will be £399 for the same 16Gb wifi model. The question is, given that it's not for a gadget-freak, is paying an extra 50% worth it?

I'm thinking of getting one for my wife, who isn't such a gadget-lover as me in that she wouldn't necessarily want the latest model of something JUST because it's the newest one. iPads are the only piece of tech I've ever seen her interested in, in fact!

She'll use it mostly for email and surfing the net, at home in the evenings (where there's wifi). And I'm sure our children will steal it to play with it...

I've looked at the differences and it seems to come down to the new ones being: slightly lighter (is it enough to matter?), having two cameras (realistically, what can you see them being used for?) and slightly faster (will it make enough difference to be noticeable?)

So are the new features such a great improvement on the original model that it's worth paying more? (Alternatively, do iPad batteries degrade so badly that it's not worth getting an used one, as the battery won't hold a decent charge any more?)

I'm thinking it's not worth the extra. What about you?

posted by monster max to Technology (10 answers total)
In this particular case? Go for an original iPad. This is a particularly good time to buy, since pretty much anyone with a pair of eyes and ears knows there's a new one, which has obviously depressed the price of used iPads significantly, not to mention the reduction in price of new ones in the interim. The hardware upgrade, which equates to roughly twice the processor speed and nine times the graphics performance, is not to be sneezed at, but the original iPad is far from slow. Developers will certainly take advantage of these new capabilities, but not at the expense of support for older models.

To give some context, I'm using an original iPhone temporarily until the new iPhone 4G/5 comes out this June. To my surprise, most of the apps I rely upon — Twitter, Facebook, a few newspaper apps — all work fine (if a little slowly), and this is on a device released in June 2007 — and four years is a hell of a long time in technology terms. I'd grab an original iPad now while they're this cheap, and if you and your family find it indispensable, then there's nothing to stop you picking up an iPad 2 at some point in the future as well. If your experience is anything like that of mine or any of the families I know with children and an iPad, you'll probably end up having to negotiate with your children to be able to use it!
posted by jaffacakerhubarb at 5:34 AM on March 24, 2011

Apple seems to stop releasing OS upgrades about 3 years after a product is launched (eg: the iPhone 3G was cut-off with the release of OS 4.3 this month). The original iPad is 1 year in so far, meaning you've probably got about 2 years of updated software coming. I don't know if that matters to you, but it's something to consider.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:37 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm a proponent of getting the most up to date product when it comes to tech. Buy cheap, buy twice, essentially. Aside from being faster, the new Ipad also appears to do a better job of rendering graphics, as this set of screenshots illustrates. It also has the magnets necessary to use the Smart cover, which is a nice bonus too.

Right now, I can't think of a ton of uses for the dual cameras (other than facetime), but that doesn't mean someone isn't developing an app that's going to use the cameras in new and exciting ways.

That said, pretty much every review I've read of the iPad 2 has stated that if you have the original, there's probably no reason to upgrade. So, I imagine ignorance is bliss - if you've never used the lighter and faster iPad 2, the original will probably seem fine.
posted by backwards guitar at 5:54 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I generally say that getting the newer model means that it will last longer. Not only in battery life, but also in software updates like someone else mentioned. To me, the cameras are necessary because of my LDR and we rely on FaceTime. The thinness of it now has changed the way that you hold it. While reading a book, the iPad 2 is by far superior just in the experience of it versus the first generation. Apps and accessories from here on out will be geared to the new one, so even if she needs a new case for it, you might have a hard time finding one.

If she is going to be as casual a user as you think, no harm in getting the older version and saving some money. I would just be ready to shell out for a newer model in a year or so.
posted by itsacover at 6:19 AM on March 24, 2011

slightly faster (will it make enough difference to be noticeable?)

Much faster. Check out this article for more details. There are a bunch of YouTube videos comparing the two devices side-by-side and demonstrating how much the bump in memory and the upgrade to A5 improves the browsing experience.

From what I've heard, the memory dumps on the original iPad were frequent and annoying.
posted by litnerd at 6:32 AM on March 24, 2011

I am using an original iPad (right now!) and it's crashed maybe once, ever; I don't know what memory dumps litnerd is talking about.

The newer model might be better for games, but for just web surfing and email the first version would be fine. Ive held both models side by side, and the thickness /weight difference is, well it is noticeable, but I wouldn't say significant (I've never picked up my ipad and said to myself gee this is so heavy I wish it were a few millimeters thinner.)

Personally I would buy an iPad 1 now because that would give me more of an excuse to upgrade to the ipad 3 next year. Because you know the retina display has to be coming sometime, and that would be a compelling reason to upgrade.
posted by ook at 7:02 AM on March 24, 2011

I have a great deal of gadget lust for the iPad 2, but I also have an iPad 1 in a cool case that does pretty much everything the iPad 2 does (minus FaceTime). If you can deal without that, go with an original iPad and save your money for iPhone 5.
posted by squorch at 7:08 AM on March 24, 2011

ook, I was talking about tabs in Safari having to refresh entirely very frequently. Here's a video that demonstrates what I'm talking about and the improvements with the iPad 2's added memory.
posted by litnerd at 7:16 AM on March 24, 2011

Ah, I see what you mean. I can't say I've ever noticed that as an issue, but maybe that's just because I don't normally bounce around rapidly between a dozen different web pages.
posted by ook at 7:39 AM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was in the exact same situation and ended up getting the iPad 1. I am very happy with it. Even if I got the iPad 2 I would immediately upgrade it once a high resolution retina display version comes out, so I'm not worried about it not the iPad 1 lasting as long as the iPad 2 in terms of software updates.

One other thing to consider is that there will be long lineups and wait times for the iPad 2. So you could get an iPad 1 now and have it in your hands immediately, or wait a month before the iPad 2 gets shipped to you, or wait 8 hours in line.
posted by ajackson at 12:05 PM on March 24, 2011

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