The iPad to iPad Transition

When it was decided that I’d become the new editor of iPad.AppStorm, I realized that I had a problem. See, I was an original iPad owner — I waited in line with the rest of the huddled masses for an iPad 3G back in 2010. But since that point, I had upgraded everyone else in the family but myself. My mother had a third-gen iPad, my dad an iPad 2, and even my toddler son partially inherited my mother’s original iPad (she calls it his, but she obviously keeps it well protected). Seemed like the whole family was ahead of me on the curve.

So I went out and made the plunge. Today, I’m the owner of a shiny and new 64 GB iPad with LTE in black. Almost immediately, my head exploded. Turns out I had been smart to wait. If you’ve been waiting to buy an iPad, you should heed my advice: go and buy one now. Let me explain why. 

Shelf Life

My original iPad received a lot of use and abuse. Although it’s still being used around the house today, it was just too slow to get any real use out of it. I couldn’t pull up iBooks without waiting at least a minute for my library to appear, things took way too long to download — you get the idea.

At first, I just chalked this up to age, but it turns out it may very well be intentional. Devices that use flash memory need to have TRIM enabled in their OS to properly take care of the internal hard drive. Problem is, iOS doesn’t have it — or at least, I can’t find any reference that it does (feel free to correct me in the comments if you know different). After two years of almost daily use, the iPad had slowed to a crawl, and a lack of TRIM support was one of my best guesses.

My original iPad has seen better days.

My original iPad has seen better days.

That said, I’m fine with that. With my current position, I pretty much need to have the current generation of iPad to properly do reviews on the latest apps that use the newest hardware. So my new iPad will be replaced with the next one come next spring, and then my current model will go to my wife, son or be integrated into some other cool project. Really, a two-year-old iPad shouldn’t be considered defunct, and mine is still in use. But it’s not the speed machine it used to be.

I am … Speed.

Whether or not my original iPad was crippled by age or a lack of TRIM support, the difference between it and the new iPad is just phenomenal. Yes, this is all attributed to the fancy processor and all that, but it’s very noticable.

Not so much with the original iPad and the iPad 2. Although there was a difference, I remember playing with my father’s new model last year and not being so impressed that I needed to buy one. It’s not that the iPad 2 was bad per se, it just wasn’t quite the supercharged upgrade that I expected. Plus, I could’ve cared less about the camera — who’s going to use it anyways?

Turns out, me.

Cameras and More

So the original iPad didn’t have a camera, and I got that. I certainly didn’t want to hold up my iPad to take a shot, it’d be like holding a clipboard. Ridiculous, right?

But with the new iPad, we’ve got HD recording and editing all on the same device. That alone makes it worth the purchase, because it’s so much easier to work with a film when it’s all in your hands. I’m no professional video editor, but iMovie makes it easy. And that’s why I use the iPad’s camera more than I thought I would.

The Smart Cover Makes All the Difference

But overall, the biggest issue I had with my original iPad was its ease of use. I went out and bought an incase travel pack, all the camera adapters, a Bluetooth keyboard and everything else I could. But it just never seemed like it was that convenient to lug around this big bag of crap just to use my iPad for work. So I never did.

The Smart Cover (and now the Smart Case) make the iPad a substantially more usable device. Propping it up to type on a surface is easy. Typing becomes a joy, not a hassle. It keeps the back from getting scratched when I set it down with the screen up, or the face when I place it on a table screen down. It’s amazing how simple that is, and yet how big of an improvement it makes.

See, and now I can work AND play games simultaneously!

See, and now I can work AND play games simultaneously!

My original iPad shows the battle wear of a veteran with scratches across the back. The curved nature of that device made it difficult to put down anywhere without scratching it, so you had no good thing to do with it other than put it in a case. Not only is the new iPad flat on the back, but that Smart Cover means it’s protected whenever I put it down, as long as I put it down on the cover. Man do I love that thing.

And of Course, the Screen

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Retina display, because really, that was one of the big reasons for my upgrade. Man is that thing pretty. Again, I couldn’t justify the iPad 2 because it just didn’t have enough going on to make the change. And since I didn’t use my iPad as I expected originally, transitioning to the iPad 2 just didn’t make sense.

But the new screen was huge. HD movies on my new iPad meant I could watch most of my iTunes library on the go. I could edit HD movies on my iPad. My photography looked much better, making it the perfect mobile portfolio. It was the best of all worlds.

The Optional Bonus: LTE

I bought the 3G model original iPad with the intent of using it as my main device when I was on the road. I think I turned it on a total of two times in the past two years, and it was mostly to download a comic book. Yes, that extra $120 was well spent.

So what makes it different this time? Well now the iPad can tether, and it’s on LTE. In my neck of the woods, AT&T’s 3G service is less than phenomenal, and trying out Verizon with my iPad means I can see how it works here before I make the plunge on my iPhone. In addition, the tethering means that if I use it on the go I can connect my iPhone and my MacBook Air with no worries. Sure, I could do that on my iPhone, but it’s more expensive there and I can cancel anytime on the iPad.

And The Point Is …

What’s the point of telling you all this?

When the iPad came out, no one knew how its lifecycle would work out. Would we get a new one every two years? Every year? Would it be a major improvement with each product? If we follow the history of the iPhone, we see that it tends to come in batches of two. The first year is a new design, new product (see iPhone 3G and 4). The second is the same design, but an improvement on the product (see iPhone 3GS and 4S).

We don’t have enough data to make a real comparison, but so far, the iPad seems to be on a similar path. The iPad was great, then an improvement on the original, and another after that. Whether you consider the iPad to iPad 2 transition incremental or not is up to you (and the design did change, albeit slightly). But buying an iPad every two years doesn’t seem like a bad thing. In fact, it seems the make the most sense if you’re a real Apple Addict because you’ll spend the least amount to get the highest quality stuff. And these things are expensive, so keeping the cost down is always a good thing.

If You’re On the Fence

Look, maybe you’re like me and you’ve put off buying a new iPad for one reason or another. Maybe you have an original iPad and can’t justify the upgrade. I was in your shoes, and I get it. But you should really buy the new one.

I thought it wasn’t worth the cost, and now that I’ve got one I use it ten times more than I did my original model. It’s now a daily tool for getting things done, and my old iPad just wasn’t.

Do yourself a favor and take the plunge. I’m glad I did.

 


  • Ian C.

    I think your “TRIM” theory is nonsense, sorry!
    TRIM is used with flash drives replacing the magnetic sort (eg: SATA interfaces) – because when the OS deletes a file, all it does on the drive is changes the directory structure, maybe just one byte. The flash drives knows only that some sectors have data written to them, it can’t know that some of that data belongs to long-ago deleted files that the OS no longer references.
    So TRIM is a way for the OS to “hint” the flash drive: “I no longer care about the data you have stored in these places” – then the flash drive can restructure it’s underlying storage without worrying about the old data.

    iOS uses flash memory, not a flash drive. There’s no SATA drive or anything like it – the flash is connected to iOS, and knows all about the memory. It knows which flash data is live and which is no longer used.

    The biggest reason for slowdown is surely the small RAM in the first iPad (we’ve gone from 256MB to 1GB); the processor is slower too, of course.

    In any case “new iPad” is lots faster than the original – but iPad 2 is much faster than the original, too.

  • http://karmamole.com Omar Kamel

    It’s ‘per se’ :)

    • http://www.twitter.com/craighooghiem Craig Hooghiem

      I was hoping the new editor would catch more of these things than the last one…

  • http://cameraguyzack.blogspot.com Zack Jones

    We upgraded from a 64GB original iPad to a 16GB new iPad. I love the display but boy did we make a mistake by getting the smaller drive :(. We like to use the iPad to review photos we take on weekend hikes but with the new 16GB model we can’t fit a weekend’s worth of photos on it due to the other stuff we have installed. I’m on the fence about getting another 64GB iPad ($700) or a MacBook Air 128GB ($1100). I’m inclined to the the MacBook Air would be the better purchase for us.

  • iyyy69

    Sorry to sound harsh, but Kevin is not off to a good start as the “editor” of iPad.AppStorm. Floating absurd theories about lack of “Trim” support is embarrassing for someone in his position. He should stick to actual facts and informed opinions about iPad apps. And this article really should be re-edited.

    • http://papermail.me Jacob Penderworth

      Not everyone has extensive knowledge in every field, so sometimes they need to learn. Give him a chance.

      • iyyy69

        Huh? I’m not saying Kevin has to have an advanced degree in computer science… but did he do *any* research on the topic of TRIM as it pertains to the iPad? Because if he had, he’d know that it doesn’t have anything to do with his 1st gen iPad feeling sluggish. The commenter “Ian” above came to factually-based conclusions (and rather obvious I might add) about the memory constraints and slower CPU. That was four days ago, and I don’t see any correction to the article.

        Furthermore, that’s not really even the point – what’s troubling is, as a “journalist”, if you have no idea whether what you’re suggesting as factual is in fact, factual, probably best not to publish it. Labeling the article as an “Opinion” piece does not give carte blanche to just make stuff up.

        I don’t really expect all that much from appstorm – the writing is generally subpar as a whole – and I assume most of the writers have “day jobs”. I only care enough to point this out because the site does serve a nice purpose of bringing apps to my attention that I otherwise wouldn’t know about. But there are limits before I’ll seek such information elsewhere.

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