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iPad/iPad2 64 GB 3G Comparison

by Mark W. Hibben

Real World Performance

For this review we decided to compare real life performance for activities such as web browsing, watching videos, playing games, or using maps between a first generation 64 GB iPad 3G and a 64 GB iPad 2 3G.  We also took a quick look at some of the new capabilities of the iPad 2 for video recording using its new front and back side cameras. Most of the review is contained in the accompanying video, but here we provide a summary of the quantitative time measurements for the “real life” tests, where applicable.  Although numerical benchmarks show a speed improvement of between 50 and 100 %, and graphics benchmarks indicate an even greater speed improvement, our real world tests generally fell short of this degree of improvement.  The exceptions were the launching of Netflix and the Infinity Blade game, which were more than 100% faster on iPad 2. 

Test Methodology

We video recorded the launching of a particular app, being careful that the app was not already running in the background.  Using the time stamp of the recording frames, we could determine the time to launch a particular application.  Here the time resolution was 1/30 second.  In the case of web page launching, we recorded the combined time to launch Safari and load the web page.  Both iPads used the identical Wireless-N router which was connected to the Internet through a 15 Mb/sec (download) link.  We believe that download speeds were thus limited by internal processing and communications handling by the iPads and not the speed of the Internet connection. 

For GPS HD we recorded the time from application launch to the time location lock was achieved.  This tests not only launch time but processing of GPS data.  Of course, time to acquire a GPS signal is a variable that is dependent on antenna design and positioning of the antenna as well as location and number of GPS satellites within range of the receiver.  For this test both units were placed in the same orientation and location in-doors, at approximately the same time of day. For Netflix and YouTube, we recorded the time from launch to the time that the application screen was fully populated with images and data.  For Infinity Blade, we recorded the time from launch to the time that the play button icon appears on the app screen.

Speed Test Results

Device Launch Time (sec) % Faster ( for iPad 2)
Safari-NY Times iPad 17.43  
  iPad 2 12.93 34.8%
Safari-Technomicon Beta iPad 6.4  
  iPad 2 6.0 6.7%
Safari-Apple iPad 6.7  
  iPad 2 4.8 40.6%
GPS HD iPad 16.27  
  iPad 2 10.4 56.4%
Netflix iPad 12.4  
  iPad 2 5.87 111.4%
YouTube iPad 4.2  
  iPad 2 3.6 16.7%
Infinity Blade iPad 29.6  
  iPad 2 10.5 181.0%

Video Playback Quality

Demonstrating video playback quality on the iPad is a challenge since video recording directly from the screen tends to produce Moire fringes, even if the video camera has significantly higher pixel resolution than the iPad display screen.  For the video, we recorded in 720p (1280 x 720 pixels), but the resultant video still had substantial Moire artifacts.  To try to get around this, we recorded 5 Mpixel stills of paused video.  These images were then reduced in size in order to fit onto the display area of our web page.  They are generally free of Moire fringes, but camera exposure differences still tend to mask the more subtle differences between the iPad and iPad 2 displays.  These differences are subtle indeed, since the basic screen resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels is the same for both devices.  We regard the differences in the displays as insignificant and caution the reader against drawing a contrary conclusion based on the still images.  Here, the only point we’re trying to make is that the differences are so small that the still images mask whatever actual differences there are.

iPad Still from Babylon A.D.

iPad 2 Still from Babylon A.D.

iPad Still from Babylon A.D.

iPad 2 Still from Babylon A.D.

  • 1.
    Real World
  • 2.
    Test Results
  • 3.
    Video Quality
  • 4.
    1st Still
  • 5.
    iPad 2
    1st Still
  • 6.
    2nd Still
  • 7.
    iPad 2
    2nd Still
  • 8.
    iPad 2 Review
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