I wrote about my first experience with the iPad back in January, right around the 10th anniversary of Steve Jobs announcing the device in 2010. As we close in on the 10th anniversary of the device’s release, I’ve been thinking a lot about where the iPad is today and the things I love about it, both new and old.
While I enjoyed using the original iPad and saw enormous potential in Apple’s tablet platform, it was the iPad 2 that really won me over. It was everything that was good about the iPad, just better all-around. It was thinner, lighter, faster and had better battery life. As big of a jump as we got from the original iPhone hardware to the iPhone 3G, this was even bigger. Add to that the fact that developers were fully onboard with making iPad-specific apps by this point thanks to the success of the first-gen device, and you had a really compelling package for the price.
I vividly remember the launch of the iPad 2 because it was so different than other Apple launches I had been a part of. For whatever reason, Apple decided to start sales in the afternoon (somewhere around 5 PM, if memory serves), which they hadn’t done with previous iPhones or iPads. I was also traveling to Fayetteville, AR with my family to visit my mother-in-law.
That’s a 5 to 6 hour trip for us, so I knew we would be driving during that release time. Unfortunately, there weren’t any Apple Stores in Arkansas at the time, so I planned to stop off at a BestBuy in Little Rock, AR to see if I could get one of what was rumored to be a small launch-day stock. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it there in time and when I called, the store was already sold out. I also checked a Walmart in Conway, AR, where we stopped for gas, and they too had sold the few they got as soon as they started selling. I gave up finding one, at that point.
I had already sold my original iPad ahead of the launch of the iPad 2 so I could get more money, so by this time, I was full-on gadget obsessed. If you are an Apple fan or just a tech fan in general, you’ve probably been there at some point. As I was thinking about where to look around Fayetteville the next day, we came up on Russellville, AR, the next town of any size past Conway. I didn’t hold out much hope, but I called the local Walmart to check if they had any iPad 2s left. I was in luck. They hadn’t sold any so far and had the exact model I wanted.
I remember being thrilled at the time because I knew there would be backlogs and shortages. That was usually the case when Apple bypassed pre-orders in favor of an in-store release on launch day. It turned out I was right, as there were shortages and waits for up to a couple of months after release. It would have taken me at least 2-4 weeks to get an iPad 2 if I hadn’t got lucky in the middle of nowhere in Central AR.
That was important to me because it gave me the better part of a week while we were visiting my mother-in-law to use this new iPad and get a feel for it. While I didn’t write about it right away, this time did get me prepared for some reviews that came shortly after.
Finding my niche
While I never was a fan of the tech media narrative that the iPad was purely for consumption, that was all I really used the original iPad for. I do remember thinking that there was a missed opportunity not having a quality stylus and better Notes app that would turn the iPad into a perfect digital notebook. But there was no indication that Apple would take the device in that direction and there weren’t many apps geared toward creation until late in the iPad’s lifespan, so I really didn’t consider it a creation device yet.
However, my mindset started to change with the iPad 2. In one of my previous writing gigs, my niche became reviewing keyboard cases. I was intrigued by ZAGG’s original Keyboard Case, which came out over halfway through the original iPad’s first year. Unfortunately, I never had a chance to get my hands on one. When the Logitech Keyboard Case by ZAGG, which was essentially the same product with Logitech’s name on it, came out for the iPad 2, I jumped on it and wrote my first of many keyboard case reviews.
Shaking things up
While I enjoyed using the Keyboard Case, it was the next one I reviewed that really hooked me. That accessory was the ZAGGfolio, the first clamshell-style iPad keyboard case, and it changed the way I used iPads for good. Not long after, I started doing all of my drafting for the old site with my tablet using Evernote and later, Simplenote. I also began using it for pretty much all of my personal email and web surfing and really didn’t both with a PC or laptop much at home after.
The biggest change was that I also started doing some work tasks with my iPad 2. It was so much easier to handle longer work emails that required a keyboard with a tablet that booted up in an instant and had an email app that opened immediately. I also got a cellular version with Verizon, so I had Internet access wherever I went. This was not the norm in 2011 and was pretty eye-opening.
I took notes with it using Evernote. I started opening a lot of my work documents on it for reference alongside my laptop. I even found an early wireless secondary screen app that allowed me to make my iPad a second monitor in the field in a pinch. I bought a small shoulder bag and started carrying my iPad 2 in this case and all the accessories with me at work everyday because of how much I got out of it.
This was a such big deal for me back in 2011. I spent that entire summer working out of town on a couple of projects in Nashville and Tupelo, MS. That meant my “office” was anywhere from hotel rooms, customer sites and a couple of local Starbucks for around six months. I had an older Windows 7 laptop that, while plenty powerful for the time, took a while to get going when booting up. Having a fast and very capable instant-on device with a quality keyboard was a huge timesaver for me. Also, having a quality hard-shell case to carry the whole package around in made me feel a lot better about taking my iPad 2 to work with me. All of this opened my eyes to both the current and future potential of Apple’s tablets.
It was the iPad 2 that got me to see tablets, especially Apple’s tablets, in a different light. This is when I became less an enthusiast and more of a power user. While my journey with the iPad has had a few twists and turns between 2011 and where I am today, with a fully-loaded iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and Brydge Keyboard Case, using the iPad 2 is where it really started.