iPad 2 Preview – A Real Business Video Solution? (Part 2)

In our continuing review of the iPad 2 before its release on March 11, we will explore the device further to decide whether it’s a viable business video solution for companies that are serious about using video for content and marketing.

Review criteria for the iPad2 as a mobile video solution

In our last article, we compared some of the iPad 2’s features and functionality relating to business video use, including: video browsing, video viewing, video project management, video capture, and video chat.

Today we continue our review of the iPad 2 with the following coverage:

  • Video shooting
  • Video editing (with the iMovie app)
  • Video asset management
  • Video presentation
  • Video sharing
  • Video exporting
  • Video uploading and distribution

Quick Take: What’s new and improved?


The iPad’s greatest asset is its simple, user-friendly interface. I say that because one of the biggest drawbacks that most non-tech business professionals have with producing video is that it can be cumbersome and time consuming – carrying multiple pieces of equipment, large file transfers, complex editing software, lengthy time exporting, etc. That’s why simplicity isn’t a bad thing, especially when it can be the difference between producing video content and giving up.

Improved speed

According to Apple, the iPad 2’s new 1GHz dual-core A5 chip is 2x faster than the original iPad and also improves graphic performance by up to 9 times. Better processor speed means faster web browsing and faster video streaming, editing, and exporting.

Online connectivity

The iPad 2 works with either Wi-Fi and/or a 3G service plan with either Verizon or AT&T, which means you have more ways to reliably upload your videos from just about anywhere.

Shooting video

The iPad 2 will serve as a more stable shooting platform than Apple’s much smaller iPhone. You’re more likely to brace and balance the iPad 2 than an iPhone, and you will also be able to use its own foldable cover as support. It also allows for a better position for shooting another seated individual sitting across the table. Mobile technology enthusiast and publisher of GottaBeMobile.com, Xavier Lanier mentions “the iPad 2′s camera is positioned high enough to prevent the desk or the user’s jeans from filling up the foreground.”

“I fully expect iPad 2 accessory manufacturers to build cases and accessories to specifically address the needs of iPad 2 owners that want to shoot and share video. We’ll probably see cases that will be optimized for shooting video, such as ones that will hold the iPad perpendicular to a table’s surface. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Glif-like device that mounts the iPad 2 to a tripod.” He says.

Video editing with iMovie app

iMovie is a video editing app that uses templates for quick production of videos, largely for the personal/home video market rather than the business market. The iPad version of iMovie, priced incredibly low at $4.99, is supposed provide HD movie editing and exporting with what Apple refers to as its “Multi-Touch Precision Editor.”  Multi-track audio editing also is supported, which allows an easier way to sync and adjust multiple vocals and background audio.

Longtime Mac guru Andy Ihnatko is sold on the movie editing features for the iPad 2. “Even during my fifteen minutes with the iPad edition of Apple’s iMovie video editor, I was impressed. I hate editing video, but this app intuitively felt better and easier than even the desktop edition of iMovie,” he says.

That’s great for regular consumers, but is this enough to make iMovie qualify as a video editor for business? This will likely depend on the expectations that you and your stakeholders have with the presentation.  What I’m still not satisfied with is the lack of business-themed design templates and lack of customization for my video presentation. If I could create and customize my own business-themed template design, it would be a big plus (just like I can do in Powerpoint, or even Telestream’s Screenflow).

Sharing presentations

Another big reason to use the iPad 2 as a mobile video studio would be so you could share videos quickly and impressively. The iPad 2′s display is much bigger, making it easy to show videos to small groups. For larger groups you can plug in the optional HDMI adapter to an HDTV.

“Just adequate” business video features on the iPad 2

Video cameras

The iPad 2 comes with 2 cameras for video recording and still shots:

  • Back camera – the video camera at the back of the device is 720p capable with up to 30 frames/sec.  Although not full HD (1080i or 1080p), the video capability is inline with that of the Motorola Zoom, flip cameras, and many other devices.
  • Front camera – the front camera, used for FaceTime video chat, is not at all suitable for anything close to business-quality video recording. It uses VGA video which confers a resolution of no more than 800X600 in 4:3 format.

The back camera is definitely an adequate device for business video recording.  However, I was hoping for some additional features conducive to proper video recording, like an on-camera light and microphone input jack.

BAD business video features on the iPad 2

Camera still shots

The iPad 2 also comes with a camera, which allows for stills that can be inserted in a video. Unfortunately, this feature is also my biggest complaint about the iPad 2. The camera shoots at less than one megapixel, and it has no flash – meaning that image quality is going to be similar to the early 1990′s-era digital cameras.

So why did they do this? Well, since Apple already proved they make great cameras in a smartphone, my guess is that they didn’t want to jack up the price with the same quality cameras on their iPad. Apple might have even been better served by leaving a camera out of the iPad altogether than by adding the poor quality camera they chose.

No SD card input/storage

Despite the online rumors, the iPad 2 does not come with an SD card reader. SD cards are now a standard for photo & video file transfer, but Apple appears to really be encouraging people to edit video that was actually shot on the iPad itself. (Sure, you could do a Wi-Fi transfer of your video footage shot on another device, but that defeats the tablet’s purpose of being fast.)

What’s the final verdict?

iPad 2 works best as an entry-level video business solution for regular professionals, or as a low-level content solution for avid video marketers.

The iPad 2 makes for an acceptable entry-level video business solution for regular professionals, and for those who are serious about video, but need something portable and highly efficient for certain projects. The tablet is designed for simplicity, portability, and efficiency for the largest common denominator of consumers and business people.  These business people would mainly be those who don’t require anything more than low-end video content, or those don’t have their main video equipment ready and available. In my opinion, that’s a perfectly good market to have.

However, the iPad could make a serious leap into business video with just a few things:

  • Improved video recording hardware
  • Improved iMovie business design templates
  • SD cards for importing larger video files

Of course, the ball isn’t just in Apple’s court. I’m hoping to see more online video platforms (OVPs) build out their own iPad apps, so I can do my entire workflow in the simplest and most portable way with this device.  And most especially, I hope my choice of video editing applications (Telestream’s Screenflow for the Mac is what I use) comes out with its own iPad app.

So here’s my bottom line: I believe the iPad 2 will create considerably more mobile video producers out of regular business people who were weren’t doing it before. But if you’re already in the camp of doing professional video, it certainly won’t replace anything you’re already doing. My advice: If you need something simple and efficient for doing quick video pieces that don’t require high level graphics or branding, the iPad 2 can be qualified as an acceptable business video solution.