After some toing and froing with FedEx, I was able to get my grubby hands on the new 16GB Wifi iPad 2 I'd ordered. Here are some first impressions from un-boxing to running a few of my favorite EFB apps.
I decided on the non-3G version and the smaller size, based on my iPad 1 experience. I loaded a bunch of aviation charts and assorted junk (although no music files or videos) on my 32Gb iPad 1 and found that barely used 7Gb of space. And since I have the GNS 5870 MFI Bluetooth GPS Receiver, there was no need for the self-contained GPS in the 3G models. I know some readers have the 3G iPad 1 and like the built-in GPS, but for me the extra $130 for that option wasn't in my budget.
|Necessity is the ...|
Physically, the iPad 2 is noticeably thinner and lighter. This creates some issues with the currently available kneeboard solutions. I found the iPad 2 is just enough smaller and thinner that it slides around inside the iPro Aviator. I believe it could be made to work with some strategically placed padding, such as foam weatherstripping. Adding a semi-rigid case adds some bulk and helps reduce the looseness, though sadly these don't come with a screen protector like the iPad 1 cases did.
|Foam Addition to iPro Aviator Kneeboard|
The thinner and smaller size creates the same problems with for the Tietco kneeboard, which is what I tend to use due to it's lighter weight. Again, some creative modifications with weatherstripping and zip-ties seems to create adequate holding power. Again, the semi-ridgid gel case helps reduce the looseness.
|Custom Foam Spacer (secured with zip-tie)|
|Semi-rigid Clear Case|
Say what you will about Apple being the new evil empire (and there is evidence this is becoming the case), but the iPad 2 setup was the height of simplicity. I just plugged it into my Macbook, registered the unit with iTunes, and then selected to restore a backup of my iPad 1 contents. In under 4 minutes, everything was complete and ready to rock.
ForeFlight required me to re-download charts, but was noticeably faster than the old iPad: 39 charts took under 8 minutes (I didn't actually time it). Downloading charts into SkyCharts Pro also seemed much faster.
Data for all my other apps appeared as they did on the iPad 1. No muss, no fuss.
Everything seems to happen a lot faster on the iPad 2, probably due to twice the amount CPU cache and a faster graphics chipset. A simple example is the auto-screen rotation: Turn the iPad 2 and the screen just snaps into the new orientation instead of the slight delay seen with the iPad 1. Scrolling around in a VFR chart with either ForeFlight or SkyCharts Pro is very, very fast. The real litmus test for me was scrolling through PDF documents in GoodReader. Open a big document like the FAA's Advanced Avionics Handbook and the pages are rendered almost as fast as you can scroll. There's a slight delay rendering pages with lots of graphics, but the overall speed increase is a big step forward.
More to Come
The weather here has not be very conducive to flying, but as soon as I can get airborne I'll post my impressions of the iPad 2 in flight. Stay tuned.