Apple

Three new features make the iPad even more business friendly

Erik Eckel describes the features that make the iPad 2 even better for business use. Were features on your wish list left out?

Sales of Apple's iPad 2 exceeded expectations its first weekend, with some 400,000 to a half-million units selling, many within just hours of initial release. Signs suggest Apple's iPad 2 is picking up where its popular initial model left off; some 70 percent of iPad 2 buyers are believed to be new to iPad tablet ownership.

iPad 2 buyers won't be disappointed. Apple has included three new features that make the device even more business friendly.

#1. It's more portable

One of the reasons the first iPad proved so popular (some 15 million units reportedly sold within the first year) was the device proved highly portable. I didn't think there would be that much difference between a four-and-a-half pound MacBook Pro and a pound-and-a-half iPad, but the iPad quickly replaced my laptop when performing day-to-day tasks as a full-time IT consultant. In the field, the iPad simply proved lighter, faster and easier to use when taking notes, auditing systems, managing email and calendars, diagramming networks, and performing other common chores.

The iPad 2? The new design is a third thinner and up to 15% lighter. That means the tablet computer is even more portable than the original. A lighter and thinner model will prove even easier to tuck inside a folio or case and take it on the road.

The iPad isn't a desktop replacement. But it's not meant to be. It's an innovative and highly mobile device that delivers incredible power to business users' fingertips, and the thinner design and lighter weight will further fuel its adoption.

#2. It's faster

The original iPads were fast. I've actually turned it on, joined a public Wi-Fi network, logged on remotely to a server and disabled a user account faster than a decent business laptop will even boot into Windows.

The iPad 2 is even faster.

The 1GHz single-core Apple A4 CPU performed well, winning accolades for its speed and miserly energy consumption. A new dual-core A5 CPU powers the iPad 2, providing significant performance improvement and smoother multitasking. Using the new and faster chip, Apple engineers were still able to achieve the same 10-hour battery life of its predecessor, this despite the new A5's graphics engine performing up to nine times faster than the first generation tablet.

#3. Video Mirroring aids presentations

Many users leverage their iPads in meetings, when traveling or as a secondary device when a laptop isn't required. Conducting presentations with the first generation iPad, however, was typically best when presenting only to a few people, possibly at an informal meeting at a local coffee shop.

Not so with the iPad 2. New Apple Digital AV/VGA Adapters enable connecting the iPad 2 to large HDTVs or projectors. The video mirroring feature now makes it possible to use an iPad more easily to conduct a presentation, show videos to large groups and collaborate with larger audiences.

The process works instantly, doesn't require additional software, and demands no complex settings adjustments nor memorization of funky shortcut key combinations. Once connected via the adapter, all attendees with a view of the connected display see what displays on the iPad's screen. Rotate the iPad 2 and the display adjusts correspondingly. The same is true when zooming in or our using the iPad's Multi-Touch gestures.

An optional 30-pin HDMI adapter adds audio support to iPad 2-powered presentations. The same HDMI adapter also includes a second USB plug for connecting a power cord, so presenters need not worry they'll lose battery power before the presentation completes.

What features were omitted?

Were you hoping other business features would be included? Sure, the multiple cameras, Facetime support and attractive cases are all fine and good, but only a select few professions or personalities can truly leverage those features. Instead, many may be left pining for Adobe Flash support (it isn't coming), a wired Ethernet port (would be nice for IT pros who must configure routers) or a universal USB port (for simplified data transfer or backup). What business features would you like to have seen included in the second generation iPad?

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

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