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Digital Foundry Examines the iPad 2

No High Scores

Eurogamer’s Digital Foundry consistently takes apart the graphical aspects of games to a point where I think the writers aren’t actual humans but instead are beings of pure electricity, able to inhabit video cards and processors and see what happens at a quantum level. They’re like Kingdom Come’s Flash, just with video cards. In their latest article they take a look at the processing upgrade given to the iPad 2 and what it means for the iPad as a gaming platform. It’s an interesting read and as someone who is just weeks away from their own iPad 2, I’m looking forward to what the system can do.

Seen at Eurogamer.

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Brandon loves games, which shouldn't be a surprise given where you're reading this. He has written for GameShark, The Escapist and G4, and made them all less relevant as a result.

32 thoughts to “Digital Foundry Examines the iPad 2”

  1. Holy crap, someone else who reads DF! I’m not alone in the universe!

    I actually read Eurogamer all the time even though i’m in the states. Something they got gels with me.

    I still don’t understand the target audience for the iPad. Those things are anywhere from 500$ to 700$ and they don’t do anything the iPod touch/iPhone can’t do, and the feature set is so limited compared to equally priced laptops or netbooks. I can get a netbook that does EVERYTHING the iPad can do and more, the only thing lacking is a touchscreen. But I can get that touch for 500$ which is equal price to the shit version of iPad (16GB… seriously?).

    Someone explain what the draw is here?

  2. “Someone explain what the draw is here? ”

    They’re a fashion accessory. Like a thousand dollar Gucchi bag or whatever.

    You could have settled for a cheaper bag that looks just as nice, or a bag with far more practicality, but instead you bought it because it has “Gucchi” stamped across it.

    I’m convinced that one little apple logo is the only thing keeping that whole company afloat. I mean, there’s far better for cheaper, yet people buy it because it’s got an “i” in front.

  3. “Someone explain what the draw is here? ”

    They’re a fashion accessory. People just buy it so they can wave it around and go “Look at my iPad!” the same way they show off Nike brand clothes or whatever. There’s plenty of cheaper, more practical items out there, but people buy a label and not a product.

    I’m convinced that one little apple logo is the only thing keeping that whole company afloat. I mean, there’s far better for cheaper, yet people buy it because it’s got an “i” in front.

  4. Good deal.

    I think this time it was due to the word “fashion”

    Our spam filter hates potential boot spam! You wouldn’t believe how many posts that ARE spam that the filter catches w/o anyone seeing. Crazy. For every legit post that gets caught, 15 are really spam.

  5. The draw is lots of awesome aps that other systems don’t have. I played Commands and Colors (Viking Lords) two player like a board game with my neighbour the other day and wanted one immediately. We were just shooting the shit and I mentioned that you could get C&C:A basically (re-themed ya know) which I learned on this blog and 5 minutes later we were playing the damn thing. Too awesome. So sure, it’s 500$ or so for a ipad that can do this but all of a sudden 50-90$ boardgames like Small World and C&C:A are 5 bucks and you can carry an essentially infinite amount of baordgames around with you. It’s actually pretty awesome in that regard.

  6. That’s not entirely true. If you think I give a rat’s ass about what other people think about me, you clearly don’t know me. I have a Okamiden tattoo for crap’s sake, and it’s visible!

    For me, I like gadgets. It’s not about utility, it’s about the gadget factor. The iPad is cool, and it can run a bunch of awesome games and other neat little apps. I have a laptop, two of them actually, and they’ll continue to have their place in my computing world.

    Honestly, I wasn’t planning on getting one, but my wife suggested one as a combination birthday/father’s day gift. Is it expensive? Yes. Can it do a bunch of stuff that other devices can do? Yes. But it’s a gadget and it’s cool and I’ll use it for times I don’t feel like booting up the laptop but need to access the internet, or when I want to watch movies at the airport without having to bring a laptop.

  7. You don’t know, what you don’t know, until you know it.

    For all of the nay sayers about the iPad. I have one statement, until you live with one and mold it to your uses you really don’t have a valid opinion. I say this because the iPad is a personal device that tends to change how you view daily computing. And you can’t gain an opinion until you use it for a while.

    Personally I have replaced my MacBook with an iPad for about a year and never looked back. I have a powerhouse desktop PC that only gets used for gaming and converting video so I can view it on the iPad. The iPad is my main computer. Three things about the iPad that are game changers. The divice is mobile enough to go wherever you are. Portrait screen orientation is more useful than landscape. The battery can last a whole weekend of heavy use. I literally never think about the battery level, the iPad has never run out of battery.

    Flame away. You don’t know what you’re missing.
    (written on an iPad)

  8. Prove to me that you can only do all that you do on an iPad, and that it would be impossible to do that on any other tablet PC, and I’d accept your statement.

    All you’ve done is proven that tablet pc’s can change the way you compute, which they can. You’ve done nothing to prove that the iPad is the best tablet going, and this is the issue I have with most Apple product users saying their product is “the best”.

    Stop selling tablets, start selling iPads, then get back to me.

  9. i have an iPhone… i know for a fact that there are couple of games out there that ONLY run on iPad because it has a better processor. my iPhone does literally everything your iPad does, but also calls people. You paid twice as much money for a bigger screen.

  10. Yeah, but there’s still plenty of devices that can do the same job for a lower price point. I’m not saying “The ONLY reason people buy it is because it’s Apple.” I’m saying “The only reason it gets away with such a huge price tag is because it’s Apple.”

    I don’t deny that it IS a good gadget because, well, it is. I do feel that the price is driven up because most of the people (Not all) who buy it will go in saying “I want an iPad!” purely because it’s an iPad. they just want it to go around saying “I have an iPad. It’s so great” when all they’re doing is useing it like any other tablet pc.

    Yes, my point isn’t entirely true, but how are Apple able to sell a device for about 700 dollars when other manufacturers produce similar gadgets with more functionality for a lower price and don’t get the same noteriety? The entire company floats on that little apple on the back, much like how Nike floats on the swoosh. People pay more for the logo assuming it’s a better item than the competition.

    On the topic of Nike, the last three pairs of their trainers I bought smelled like a cat had pissed in them after three or four days. I buy non-branded ones now that do the same job, but don’t smell vile and cost a fraction of the price.

    JonJacob pointed out an extremely valid point, access to the Apps is a big seller, and I wasn’t aware it could save you money in the long term on bored games. Does it explain the elevated price tag? I don’t think so.

    For the price of an iPad, I could get a Pandora. I think I’d be willing to sacrifice screen size and the App store for some sweet emulation and DS size portability.

    EDIT: Just checked. A Pandora would actually cost me less than an iPad 2 in Ireland.

  11. The fact that it’s multitouch is pretty neat, I won’t deny. To me, it’s not worth the price tag, but multitouch screen is an interesting function that no one ever covers… only that it’s sleek, it’s neat, it’s Apple

  12. Ok I’ll take your challenge…

    I use my iPad as a nurse and on it I have all of my medical and drug references, It has 3D interactive anatomy apps for patient education. I can log into the medical records. Etc. It’s not the hardware but the amazing app store that distinguishes the iPad over anything else.

    I need the screen real-estate to do patient education. Trying to do the same with even a laptop get’s in the way with interacting with the patient. Also I created a mini inverted backpack that carries the iPad under my scrubs so it is always available. At less then 2 pounds and a real all day battery just can’t be beat.

    The iOS has such a large market the developers are developing for it, and everything else is “maybe some day”.

  13. One of the biggest arguments I hear about the iPad is you can’t do “real work” on it. I know folks that write books with them, and others that do some pretty serious inventory and accounting management. If anyone whats to say that nursing isn’t “real work” they’ve then proven that they don’t know jack, nor squat. Just so folks know I don’t have an iPad (though we did buy one for my father last summer, and it’s convinced) and am not myself, nor is my wife, a medical professional.

  14. Ok, so you’ve shown that the app store puts the iPad ahead of the game. I’d still argue that you could do all that on Android, but I’m going to hazard that people aren’t developing the apps you need for Android. I see lack of Android development as something that does put other tablets a few rungs below the iPad, but doesn’t explain the price difference.

    There are other tablets with a screen the same size as the iPads though, so screen real estate is just another argument for tablets in general which, again, I do agree can change the way you work.

    Thanks for giving real life examples for in the work place. Very enlightening. Whats your bag like? Maybe think of getting a patent if it’s very unique. Could be worth selling to other hospital staff.

  15. I agree with your point about Apple being able to charge more because they’re Apple. Take the iPad 2 covers, for example. The pastel colored ones are 40 bucks. The “professional” ones (red, black, white) are 70 bucks. Yes, they’re leather and not whatever rubber-plastic blend the cheaper ones are made of, but I seriously doubt the leather is of such high quality that it warrants a 30 buck jump in price. It seems like Apple knows it can charge an insane mark-up on the more common colors and people will buy it without question.

    This is why I’m going to make a custom cover out of paper grocery bags and then write hair metal band names all over it. Party like it’s 1989!

  16. Price, price, price. . . everybody seems to think you can get so much more for so much less than Apple, but as they say ‘the proof is in the pudding.’ The only real competitor that I can see is the Xoom which is a similar size with similar features, but costs $100 more.
    Apple has done wonders for their pricing over the last 5 years, but the “Apple tax” myth persists. Even if such a price difference does exist Apple seems to be the only people that get beat over the head about it. The entire consumer electronics realm has people spending more for a name when a product with similar features for less money. I haven’t bought a tablet for myself year because I think they’re all overpriced, but the iPad isn’t more overpriced than any other the others.

  17. I didn’t say others don’t overprice their stuff either. I also didn’t say you could get “more for less”. I said that for what functions people use an iPad for, there are cheaper options, but they just wander out and buy an iPad.

    It may just be from personal experiance in Ireland, but I go into shops here and there’ll be an iPad sitting beside something by HP or Archos costing maybe a hundred dollars more.

    If I was to recommend an alternative for the 16gb iPad 2, I’d recommend the Archos 101. The main functions most people use in a tablet are there for $150 dollars less off their website. Has a bigger screen, still has the multitouch, and for the functions you lose you gain others such as a mocroSD port and HDMI out.

  18. Also, just comparing that Xoom to an iPad:

    Xoom has a HDMI output, iPad does not. You have to buy proprietary cables to watch on your tv.

    Rear faceing camera camera on xoom: 5.0 megapixels
    Rear faceing camera on iPad: 1.0 Mexapixel

    Front faceing Camera on Xoom: 1.0 Megapixels
    Front faceing camera on iPad: 0.3 or there abouts. It’s VGA quality.

    Xoom can also upgrade to 4G via updates. The iPad 2 can’t. Xoom supports Adobe flash without needing an extra App to get around it. Screen on xoom is 10.1 inch, iPad is 9.7.

    And the xoom is only 80 dollars more, not 100.

  19. The main argument I have against Android is the fragmentation qualities of the OS.

    If a developer makes an Android app they have to take into concideration of which OS version and hardware they are developing for; because the different versions have a lot of different capabilities. For example read about the difficulties bringing Angry Birds to the Android platform. A simple game as Angry Birds should not be a problem, but it is.

    iOS has been much more consistent. My daughter owns an original iPhone, I have a 3G, my wife has a 3GS (we are waiting for the 5 to upgrade to Verizon). Even though the original iPhone is almost four years old she hasn’t been limited on which apps will work.

    This is what a developer wants to see, a large stabile platform to get a large return on their developmental dollars. This is not happening with the Android platform.

    Again it’s the 3rd party apps, not Apple’s hardware that makes makes iOS great.

    Apple knows this and can price the cost of entry according to the demand. It’s the definition of American capitalism. Personally I’m surprised that the iPad is not a $700-1000 device.

  20. Just to balance my seamingly iOS fanboyism…

    I have used an iPhone since the 3G launched and my next phone is not going to be a smart phone. No, my next phone is going to a plain, no data plan, non-smartphone.

    After getting the iPad it has been a royal pain using the iPhone’s small screen. I’m lucky enough to be in a market that has Verizon’s 4G LTE and will be getting a 4G hotspot and using it with my iPad.

    I hope that the next iPad has Verizon 4G LTE but becaue of the limited market I’m not holding my breath.

    I want my wireless data plan dollars going to something useful, and 4G LTE is as fast as my home internet connection.

  21. So pretty much the only reason to buy an Apple iPad over any other tablet is for the Apps, which only exist because of a closed OS? Apps which you then have to pay for?

    I’m not going to buy an iPad just so I can play Angry Birds. If I’m paying Rovio, they can get off their backside, port to Android, or else settle for the sales they get off iOS.

    Plus, I could get an Android product with Adobe Flash certified support, and then play Crush the Castle on Armorgames for free.

    If it’s not about the hardware and all about the apps, then why isn’t there an AppPad? Why not strip out all the pointless crap and just make a thing just for apps?

    EDIT: Also, if my older post would be de-spammed, I pointed to the Archos 101 tablet which is 150 dollars cheaper than an iPad with similar specs. I don’t think I’d have an issue with a smaller selection of apps when I have 150 dollars/euros weighing down my wallet.

  22. You didn’t click on the link I posted to Motorola’s page did you? Price listed is $599.00. I can find deals on the iPad too, but MSRP is what is key. I also said similar not same. So then the question is are those feature worth the extra $100 Do you have anything to actually support you’re assumption that the iPad is overpriced? Do you have a better comparison than too the Xoom?

  23. That 101 looks really good. IMHO I see two things that not only make it a better deal, but also a better tablet to the iPad. SD slot and tethering make this a much more functional and useful device. $350 is the right kind of price too.

  24. I think you are coming back to my original post. Yes the iPad is just an “AppPad” and to have a real opinion about the iPad you need to live with it awhile and mold it for your uses.

    The problem with Flash is it is a battery killer. Adobe believes in the open platform philosophy. The experience should be the same regardless of the platform. The problem is to do this on a mobile platform their needs to be a marriage of software (OS and/or App) and hardware acceleration. The only way this becomes financially feasible in on a stable platform. Apple made a decision to back HTML 5 over Flash. Don’t blame Apple for this at the time Apple needed to be able to show video on a mobile platform and Adobe didn’t want to code for the iOS/hardware marriage. Without this specific coding Flash was required to just use the CPU which it isn’t fast enough for and killed the battery.

    What is sometimes lost is how well iPad does streaming video with limited internet bandwidth. Their have been times that I can’t get a video stream on my Macbook at ABC’s website but I can watch an ABC show using the ABC app. Netflix’s app also works great.

  25. I don’t see any of that being worth the 150 dollars I could save on the Archos 101, which I can also mold to my uses. If Apple want to say that backing HTML 5 and haveing a stable App store is why they charge more than a device that, as far as I can see, does a lot of the same, thats fine. I still think they’re talking bull.

    I’m not going to buy any of the products just to “mold it to my uses” to form an opinion. My opinion is from my own personal experiance and useing the devices in stores and from friends. I’m not paying 500 dollars just to bring it home just to validate my opinion for you. I’m trying to decide which one I should buy, and so far I have a closed source AppPad with useless bells and whistles I’ll never use but the knowledge that the apps I download and maybe pay for on top of the price of the pad totally work, or spend 150 dollars less and get some things I’d use with those worthless bells and whistles, that SD slot to name one, and just have a slightly smaller selection of apps to choose from.

    I’d also hazard that a lot of people who use the iPad could do everything they do on it on that Archos 101 just as well, so long as they sit down and “mold” it.

    Flash may be a battery killer, but I won’t be useing it non-stop. Again, I’d see the loss in running time well worth the 150 dollars I’d save. I’d also at the very least have the CHOICE to view flash, but I could also just as easily disable it when I want to conserve battery.

    I’m still not seeing how the iPad is worth that extra money, and so far nobody has convinced me, yet plenty have told me my opinion is wrong. As far as I’m concerned, I found a tablet that is just as good, if not better, for a lower price.

  26. A bunch of Labreya’s posts got caught in the spam filter. I deleted the ones that were clearly reposts and let the others through. Just wanted to point that out in case it looked like he spent several posts saying similar things. He didn’t. I’m just lazy.

  27. I’ll also point out that, by your logic, you can’t say any tablet is better or worse than the iPad, because you haven’t bought them and molded them to your will.

    On that basis, you may as well make all purchases of anything on a coin toss, because you won’t really know until you own it.

    Either you can accept that I’ve formed a valid opinion on the iPad vs. the Archos 101 from studying the specifications and trying peoples tablets, or any opinion you have on any other tablet is automaticly invalidated so you can’t argue in favor of the iPad unless you own other tablets.

  28. There’s lots of blogs out there with this kind of back and forth, a bit surprised to see it here (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    I agree on the OS fragmentation. I think the argument that the iOS is a walled garden and isn’t that horrid for the consumer is a bit tired. I personally have no issue with being locked to the iOS. I’m sure there’s thousands of others who don’t mind it either. Might I be paying more, somehow, for the raw hardware? Maybe. But the convenience factor outweighs that by far.

    If I’m not going to use some particular hardware feature, do I care if it’s there or not (memory cards, for example)? People buy heated seats in cars too, when perhaps it’d be cheaper pickin’ up some more Stanfields. (little plug there for a Canadian company – though in this topic, maybe I should flog the Playbook).

    My purchased apps, just like my Steam games, can be uninstalled or installed pretty much at will on compatible devices. I have a consistent UI that my daughter picked up when she was 2, and now navigates around like a champ. Apps are portable amongst iOS devices. That 20% of functionality that I use 80% of the time? It’s just plain smooth. And I haven’t missed Flash yet, though I’m sure there’s a site somewhere I’ll hit someday that I’ll be cranky about – nothing yet in three years though.

    I used to rebuild my PC every couple years, scouring for just the right parts, just the best combination, troubleshooting any odd incompatibilities or driver issues, tweaking to get best performance – but life got in the way. Now I just call Dell – I want whatever devices I have in the house to just work. I have better things to do than try to decipher why my gingerbread apps can’t run with the honeycombs (and I’m not even sure what that means – nor do I care).

    Ultimately, the best thing consumers can have is options. So I want all these tablets to at least do moderately well, so people can have choices. I guess I made mine for now. If there’s some reason to shift me, I’m sure it’ll be a doozy.

    I don’t think the Apple logo has the level of cachet that is being attributed to it in this thread, by the way. It’s not a niche thing anymore, it’s not something uncommon about town. I don’t think brands are really a thing with a lot of people. Maybe it’s being mid-30′s, or working in a professional environment, or just my own obliviousness, but I don’t see my peers paying as much attention to logos as they might to the doneness of their steak at Planet Krypton…

  29. Labreya, no one is attacking you. I have not mentioned the Archos once in any of my posts. It might be a better fit for you. And if it fits your needs at a lower price point then all the better. I have not researched the Archos 101 but I read one review at and they said to understand what you are buying because it is not the complete Android experience. The impact of this I don’t know.

    For my needs the 3rd party developers are much more influential than anyone else including Apple. Take a look at these apps have a profound effect on my daily life. The apps cost a lot but the quality shows the great amount of development dollars that have been spent.

    Live long, and prosper

  30. Sorry if my posts came off as a bit aggressive. At the time I was just typing away my ideas.


    Sorry about that.

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