People get emotional about Apple and its products. The iPad 2, for example, is absolutely an evolutionary update to the previous product, and while I cringe every time the company insists the iPad 2 has been "completely redesigned," I know too that, a) Apple fans buy into this crap utterly and completely and, b) it doesn't matter. No, it doesn't matter in the slightest.

The reason it doesn't matter is that the iPad 2 is going to sell and sell and sell, and no amount of common sense is going to change that. With its competitors unable or unwilling to beat Apple's (yes, too-high) pricing, Apple did not reduce prices on the iPad 2. That is not unprecedented, but what is unprecedented, I think, is that it also didn't improve the storage allotments while keeping the pricing the same. That, folks, shows a very comfortable stance on Apple's part. This is a company that has surveyed the stable of competitors and would-be competitors and might-be competitors and comes away saying, you know what, we're in a good place. That is, Apple would be more aggressive if it needed to be. It doesn't need to be.

So, yes, the iPad 2 is a middle-of-the-road update over the previous version, nothing exciting. But then its only not that exciting because they clearly got it right with the first one. The thing I'm most disappointed with, maybe the only real disappointment here really, is that Apple isn't offering a non-glare screen, even as an option. I'd have paid extra for it. It's important. It's what will keep this device from being a five-star product in my opinion, and thus it comes out of the gate a strike down, if you will.

But the rest of it is interesting, very interesting. Apple has done some things that haven't gotten a lot of press, like adding (finally) the ability to stream your digital media collection wirelessly from a PC or Mac to the iPad (or any other iOS 4.3) device over the home network. Why this isn't already there is unclear, I was so sure I was missing something I looked it up, but it's coming. Good. 

They're also negating the need for a Mac, or at least slowly closing the gap between the iPad and the Mac, and I have to think that the end game here is that the iPad 3 or 4 or whatever will basically be the better choice for all but the most diehard of power users and content creators. The addition of Mac apps like iMovie, GarageBand, and Photo Booth is just a step in this direction. But you can see it playing out in front of you.

Of course, I ultimately have to step back and think about how this impacts the Windows ecosystem and PC users. We're going to have a less than ideal relationship with Apple until it completely fixes/overhauls iTunes, which is a mess, but leaving that aside for a moment what Apple is creating here is an ecosystem that is as complementary to Windows users' setups as it is to Mac users. There is nothing like the iTunes Store anywhere else for media content (TV shows, movies, music, iTunes U, podcasts, audio books, and more) or for apps, apps that now run across a wide variety of devices: iPods, iPads, and iPhones. Why would anyone choose to ignore this?

It's all very exciting, assuming you don't have some stake in the competition. I don't, not really, though people assume I do, or want to believe that. I like Apple's stuff, some of it a lot. I like the current iPad, and I'm going to like the new one more, though again the screen ... that's a sore spot for me. We'll see.

Ultimately, I recommend those tech products and services that make the most sense for Windows users. It's getting harder and harder to look away from the Apple stuff. The company's relentless improvements and innovation can be breathtaking. There's nothing like it from other companies, not to this scale. There just isn't.