Picking the Perfect Tablet Page 2

Apple iPad 2

Of the three tablets here, the iPad offered the smoothest user interaction, navigated the web the fastest, and all around worked exactly as you'd expect. Pretty typical Apple performance.

The 4x3, 9.7-inch screen got a lot of flack at launch for being behind these 16x9 times, but the reality is, it makes for a better user experience. The squareish real estate (regardless of resolution) makes surfing the web easier. Watching videos requires letterbox bars, but who cares? To do anything with the iPad you need a proprietary something: adapter, cable, dongle, whatever. Again, pretty typical for an Apple product. One of the reasons they're so profitable, I assume.

The iOS operating system is intuitive and simple. Babies and grandparents alike can start using an iPad instantly. You can't customize iOS as much as you can Android, but for the vast majority of people, this is irrelevant.

The rumors abound about the impending iPad 3, potentially seeing daylight next spring. It's said to have a higher resolution screen and other gizmos. In reality, that's just a new and largely unnecessarily pretty wrapper. It's what's inside that counts. Turns out, it's the only thing that counts, as I quickly found out (and you will too, in a moment)

Test Bench

The iPad2's 9.7-inch diagonal IPS LCD screen has a 1,024x768 resolution. Interestingly, there were some mild uniformity problems, with noticeable light leakage along the top and bottom when displaying a dark image.

With the backlight set to max, the iPad2 outputs 116.8 foot-lamberts with a full white image, and 0.128 ftL with a full black image. With the backlight set to minimum, these numbers were 3.536 and 0.004. This is an average contrast ratio of 899:1. The color temperature averaged 7,056 kelvin, slightly cool from the D6500 TV standard. However, it was the most consistent (average deviation of 63) across the grayscale range compared to the other tablets in test.

The iPad2 is 0.34 inches thick and weighs 1.33 lbs.