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Should College Students Buy The iPad 2?

Apple unveiled the iPad 2 today, and like a good little Mac fan I kept my eyes glued to my laptop to find out all the details on it. It’s undeniably superior to the previous model, incorporating a lot of the features people had clamored for from the get-go. But is it a good buy for college students?

To figure that out, it’s essential to look at the new features that the iPad 2 has. In summary, the improvements the iPad 2 makes over the original iPad are:

  • The A5 processor, which provides double the speed of the original iPad’s A4 chip and drastically improves graphics capabilities
  • Two cameras: a 720p camera in the rear and a VGA camera in the front that supports FaceTime
  • A thinner profile: the iPad 2 is just 8.8mm thick as opposed to the iPad’s 13.4mm
  • A lighter body: the wifi-only model is 79 grams lighter than the original model
  • The addition of a gyroscope, which allows the device to recognize movement on every axis
  • The bottom port now supports HDMI-out (using a proprietary connector, of course)
  • A magnetic “smart cover” that latches onto the front of the tablet

Other than these features, the iPad 2 isn’t terribly different than the original iPad. It’s still missing some of the features we’d have liked to see; a USB port, a dedicated file manager, the retina display, and Flash support are all nowhere to be found. Also, there’s no word whether we’ll get a RAM increase either.

So the question is, should you buy the iPad 2 as a student? That depends. Do you already have the original iPad? Then skip this one unless you’re a hardcore iOS gamer; it’s simply not worth $500 unless you’re a very, very atypical student with a fat wallet. The core offerings that pertain to college students (a large-screen mobile web browser; the ability to view PDFs, Kindle books, and Nook books; mobile Blackboard; etc) aren’t really improved by this update. The addition of a camera is nice, but you’d probably be happier getting a phone with a great camera so you can take it everywhere. The gyroscope is a great addition, but it’s really only useful for games.

However, if you don’t already have an iPad, this is a great time to jump on the bandwagon. The above-mentioned features really do make your life as a student easier (it’s an amazing to have your textbooks on it), and the price of the new model is exactly the same as the original started out at.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. Take a look at Apple’s promo for the iPad 2 and decide for yourself!