★ My Very Late iPad 2 Review

Here are my late, if not quick, thoughts on the iPad 2. First some background. When the iPad 2 originally came out, I wasn’t compelled to buy it. The reduction in size and weight, along with the addition of the traditional and front facing camera weren’t enough to justify the purchase of a new iPad. a few months after its release, the company whose product we represent announced a sales contest in which the grand prize was a 3 day vacation for two to any location in the US. My eyes weren’t on that prize however. The prize for those who met the minimum quotas was an iPad 2.

The company promised a mid level 32 GB wifi only iPad 2. however, due to certain accounting reasons, instead of shipping us actual units, it was much easier to send checks for the amount of the iPad. And due to tax reasons, they sent us enough money to get us a top of the line 64 GB WiFi 3G iPad with enough money leftover for a smart cover.

As an original iPad owner, the thing I immediately noticed was how thin the iPad 2 is. Even after having this thing for about a month, I still marvel at how thin it is. Even with the smart cover covering the front, it is still thinner than the original iPad. Along with the thinner form factor, the iPad 2 is 33% lighter. Again, it doesn’t sound like much but in actual real life use, it’s noticeable. With the original iPad, I would feel uncomfortable bringing it out to use in public. I’m sure part of the reason why was it’s novelty but second, I felt like the device was too bulky to carry around, especially when carried around with a case. But with the iPad 2, I don’t feel awkward carrying the device around. Even with the Smart Cover attached.

You can read other reviews and read how fast it compares to the first iPad and I can vouch that those claims are true. The feature that actually motivated me to earn the iPad 2 was FaceTime. I currently own an iPhone 3GS and am waiting for the iPhone 5/4S release to upgrade. And aside from a beta version of FaceTime available for Mac OS X, I don’t have a FaceTime compatible iOS device. Being in a long distance relationship is not the easiest thing and while cell phones and instant messaging helps, nothing beats seeing the emotion on someone else’s face. Using FaceTime on the iPad makes it feel like it was initially designed for this device, rather than the iPhone 4 it debuted on. I still am amazed whenever I use FaceTime.

If you’re on the fence about the iPad 2 and you’ve never owned one, I can’t recommend it enough. If you own the original iPad and have the funds to upgrade, do so. If not, start saving your money for an iPad 3. I can’t imagine what new features they’ll come up with by then.

★ Ten Years Old

The iPod turned ten years old over the weekend. You could arguably say that its introduction started Apple’s renaissance that continues today. There are other retrospectives on the Internet that are much better than what I could ever write but I thought I’d write a few words about my own experience.

I didn’t buy the iPod when it first came out. I bought my first iPod as soon as Apple introduced Windows compatibility through MusicMatch Jukebox software (if you even know what EphPod is, you’re awesome). It still, however, had the original iconic design. I remember saving a little from each paycheck from my job at the UCI Bookstore to save enough money to buy one. Luckily, I had a student discount and was able to get it for a little under $300 after taxes. At first I was embarrassed to tell people how much money I spent on something that “just played music”. But I didn’t care. For me, the greatest thing was being able to carry a thousand songs with me, all over campus with enough battery to last me an entire day.

The original iPod was the first Apple product that I purchased and it eventually converted me to the Apple fanboy that I am today. I’m proud to say that it still works. Every once in awhile I’ll take it out and set it next to one of its descendants, my iPhone 3GS and just stare in amazement at where ten years has brought us. I can’t wait to see where the next ten will take us.

Just for fun, here are a couple pictures of my original iPod through the years, from its unboxing to different trips I’ve taken it on.

★ RIP Steve Jobs

As I type this, I’m on a flight, appropriately enough, to the Bay Area. I learned of Steve Jobs’ passing while checking Twitter one last time before the plane pushed off from its gate. I’ve never understood why some people would react so emotionally to the passing of a public figure they are not closely related to. Until today.

I take pride in being able to say that I was once an Apple employee. I worked at a retail store in San Diego right out of college. I have only one Steve Jobs story that I can share. I was an Apple employee when he sent that first company wide email announcing that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He said that there were two kinds: the more common one which is, in over 90% of its cases, terminal and a rare form that is actually treatable. He had the latter type. He went on to say that patients with his type of cancer are able to live healthy lives for years. Steve also said that he would take a six month medical leave to deal with his cancer and that Tim Cook would be leading the company in the meantime. This was in 2004.

It’s amazing that he only stepped down as CEO six weeks ago. He truly lived and breathed Apple. Every time I use the Maps application to avoid traffic, every time I FaceTime with my girlfriend and every time I use my iPhone to casually pass the time, I’ll be thankful for the man and his company that made these things possible.

Thanks Steve. You’ll be missed.