So the iPad 2 hits Australia this Friday, and we've already had the price confirmed - the only question that remains is 'should we bother buying one? It's becoming increasingly clear that the iPad is being fashioned as a gaming device, but is it a compelling games device? This is the question myself and Gizmodo's Nick Broughall have been discussing all day - and this is the result...
MARK: So Mr Broughall Shuffle – iPad 2 pricing. Is it worth it, should I care, and is this the harbinger of the prophesied Hipster apocalypse?
NICK: Whoa! Slow down you crazy Scotsman. So many questions in so short a sentence. Let's start at the beginning - Apple has finally confirmed the pricing of its long awaited iPad 2. The great news is that the price is actually between $50 and $100 cheaper than when the original iPad launched, which makes it a lot less offensive to the magnetic strip on your credit card. Given how quickly the original iPad flew off the shelves, the price drop on the second generation means that they'll probably sell container loads, without needing to spend a cent on marketing.
MARK: Well, I always planned to possibly pick up an iPad once the second or third iteration dropped. Mainly I was looking for improved resolution – possibly a retina display – and a bunch of other improvements. What we seem to have been given, with this new upgrade, is simply a beefier iPad in terms of processing power
Bruff – are you going to buy one?
NICK: After I went hands on with the first iPad, I said that I'd wait until at least version 2 before buying. Now that version 2 is on our doorstep, I'm torn - Apple are very good at staggering the upgrades to their devices, and while a lot of features I wanted have been added to the iPad 2, part of me is seriously lamenting the lack of a retina display upgrade.
Don't get me wrong - from all accounts the iPad 2's screen is pretty good, and watching videos of Infinity Blade on the device looks spectacular. But there's part of me that wonders what could be possible for developers, gamers and regular users had Apple beefed up the resolution on the iPad 2's display.
Then there's the question of whether or not there are enough high quality apps out there to keep me entertained for the life of the product. I spend a lot of time playing games on my iPhone, and I'm still not convinced that there's enough unique gaming (and software) experiences that would justify the expense of the iPad 2. Of course, you may differ to me on that point...
MARK: Yeah – I would probably be buying an iPad 2 mainly as a gaming device. I have a laptop, I have a desktop PC, I have an iPhone and, if Nintendo would move their arse and send it, in the next day or two I will have a 3DS. Do I really need a gaming device that hasn’t really found its niche yet? Probably not.
But I don’t think ‘need’ has anything to do with it. You’re right – Apple are undoubtedly the masters of convincing people to buy devices they don’t necessarily need, and the masters of convincing people to buy products that will be upgraded in a year or less.
If it had been released with the retina display – I would be lining up next to all those yammering baboons that are already forming an orderly queue at the Bondi Apple store. As it is, however, I’m biding my time.
It’s interesting that you mention the retina display in relation to video games. In an off the cuff conversation with one of the bosses over at Firemint (the Aussie based creators of Flight Control) he claimed he was relieved the iPad 2 didn’t launch with the retina display – that thing will be a mad processor hog if games want to truly take advantage of the mega high resolution...
NICK: Which is probably one of the reasons Apple decided against launching the iPad 2 with retina display - Well that, and the fact they held it back means they've got a reason for people to upgrade next year.
Ultimately though, I think there are two important things we should consider before pulling out the credit card on Friday afternoon. First is whether or not the apps are different enough from the iPhone versions to really make the purchase worthwhile, and secondly questioning whether or not the imminent arrival of Android-powered Honeycomb tablets are going to compete in this space, both as a business tool and as a gaming platform. I think Android has a way to go before it becomes as versatile a gaming platform as iOS, but I've spent part of this morning playing with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1v Android tablet, and I have to say I'm very impressed with it so far. All it needs is a game like Infinity Sword or Rage HD to really push it to the next level.
MARK: You know, to an extent, I almost want my mobile/tablet space to be a homogenised landscape - mainly so developers have that established platform and set of specs to work to and cater to. In fact, in order for me to take tablets seriously as a gaming device, I think that sort of needs to happen.
Sure the Samsung Galaxy sounds good – but the appeal of an iPad for me is that there are a set of developers creating and designing games specifically for that device. With Android I always feel like the ports are an afterthought – that and the stores are just bulging with dirge and no quality control.
I really think that Apple have a chance to truly seize the portable gaming market here, with a true convergence device that obliterates the competition but, in the game space at least, they’re just not doing enough to convince me that I need an iPad for gaming.
I interviewed Mark Pesce a while back, and he openly questioned why Apple haven’t got in-house studios ala Nintendo and Microsoft, dedicated to creating exclusive iPad titles. I'm wondering the same thing.
As a gamer, I’m dying for a reason to splash out on a new iPad 2. I just haven’t been given one yet.
NICK: Totally agree, although honestly, I think they're getting close.
What do you guys think? Is iPad gaming a goer? Will you be picking up an iPad 2 on Friday? Let us know in the comments below.