Five disappointments with Apple iPad 2

One man’s beefs: Pricey dongles, too few OS improvements and still having to use iTunes.

Apple's iPad 2 is the lighter, thinner and faster tablet we were all expecting, but it's no revolution.

Even though the new iPad is enough to beat most of the competition, Apple left enough features off the table to yearn for whatever's next. If 2011 is the year of the iPad 2, as Apple claims, here's what I'll be beefing about until 2012:

You're Still Tethered to iTunes

Dave Schumaker of gdgt zinged Apple with a pithy Tweet: "'The iPad is a true post-PC device.' First thing you have to do when you turn on an iPad? Hook it up to a PC." Even if you never sync a single piece of media from a computer to an iPad, you still need iTunes on a PC or Mac to keep the tablet's software up to date. This needs to change.

The Software is Mostly the Same

Apple added a few bells and whistles in iOS 4.3, including iTunes Share and the optional restoration of an orientation lock switch, but fundamentally the iPad OS is the same. Between Android Honeycomb's widget support, the HP TouchPad's neat interplay with WebOS phones and the Blackberry Playbook's powerful multitasking, the iPad is looking more like an oversized iPod Touch than ever. Here's hoping iOS 5 brings the necessary overhaul.

Not a Peep on MobileMe

With MobileMe removed from retail channels, a revamped free version seemed like a safe bet for Apple's iPad 2 event. The rumor mill was predicting a digital locker for multimedia, and maybe even wireless syncing to iTunes, but no dice.

Pricey Dongles

Want to connect your iPad to a television through HDMI? That'll be $39 for the Apple Digital AV Adapter. Want to transfer photos directly to the iPad without going through iTunes? That'll be $29 for the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit. Maybe I'm a bit spoiled to complain about these things given that the iPad 2's main competitor, Motorola's $800 Xoom, doesn't come close on pricing for the tablet itself, but $68 for a pair of connectivity dongles seems a little unfair.

No Retina Display

I'm putting this gripe low on the list because the rumor of a display that doubles the last iPad's resolution was more or less debunked going in. But you can be sure that some fence-sitters will hold out on the iPad 2, hoping for a screen resolution that makes their eyes cry with joy. Fortunately for them, the iPad 3 speculation is already well underway.

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Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
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