Apple iPad 2 Tablet Review

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Performance Benchmarks

Apple had plenty to say about the performance improvements you can expect from the iPad 2, and while we have some subjective impressions to share, we wanted to provide some hard numbers first. Towards that end, we ran the iPad 2 through a handful of benchmarks and compared it both with an iPad 1 and an iPod touch.

Benchmarking The iPad 2 - Web, CPU, and Graphics
1GHz Dual-Core ARM-based A5 Processor

With a faster processor and more RAM, it should come as no surprise that the iPad 2 outran the tables in our benchmarks, and we're particularly impressed with its showing in Linpack and SunSpider.  SunSpider is a JavaScript execution benchmark and since many web pages make heavy use of  Java and JavaScript, this test is a relatively solid indication of web page loading performance.  Since it's a cross-platform benchmark, we were also able to compare it to one of the more respectable tablet processors on the market, NVIDIA's Tegra 2, which powers the Dell Streak 7 (and the Motorola Xoom).  In terms of JavaScript performance at least, it appears the A5 coupled with IOS has an edge versus competitive tablet CPUs on the market.  Beyond that, on average, for general compute throughput, the iPad 2 looks some 2 - 4X faster than Apple's first generation tablet (though results in Linpack are off the charts obviously).

Graphics Testing, More To Come:
Less thrilling, obviously, is the slightest of victories in the 3DBench run, in which the iPad 2 edged the iPad 1 by the slimmest of margins.  However, these results smell very much like there is a vsync limitation involved here, capping the iPads around the 60fps mark.  On a side note, we've reached out to the developers of GLBenchmark and hope to update this article with additional graphics performance metrics, soon.

Even without the benchmarks, there's no question the iPad 2 is a faster device than its predecessor. It doesn't blow the original iPad out of the water like Apple's performance claims might suggest, but one of the first things we noticed is how much more responsive the iPad 2 is. This was especially evident in web browsing. We found most websites were quicker to load, and we suspect the additional RAM allows the iPad 2 to cache larger chunks of a website, which greatly reduces how often you'll run into gray areas when scrolling down. Even pinch-to-zoom feels faster, though it's definitely not slow on the iPad 1.

As for gaming and apps, load times are reduced on the iPad 2, sometimes significantly. Once in a game, however, we didn't notice a ton of improvement, and sometimes none at all. For example, we fired up Angry Birds and still noticed the occasional lag, however brief. This is something we expect to improve over time as developers make better use of the iPad 2's resources, and we wouldn't be surprised to see a good number of apps designed solely for the iPad 2.

A Few Words on Battery Life:
So it's faster and more responsive, but how's the battery life? In a word, excellent. As a general purpose tablet for surfing the web, social networking, exchanging emails, and even a little bit of casual gaming, we were able to use the iPad 2 for close to a week (off and on) before needing a recharge. Of course, your mileage will vary depending on how often you use it, and as developers start cranking out more demanding games, you'll likely find yourself charging the iPad 2 more often.

Tags:  Apple, tablet, Apps, slate, ipad, ios, iPad2, A5

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