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iPad 2 is here! New design is faster, lighter, and comes with new features like front and rear cameras.

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Well, its here, the iPad 2. If you want a quick summary of what its about, the picture above does a great job of telling you in roughly 1012 words or so (the picture being worth 1000 words).

The iPad 2 has a brand new design. Its 33% thinner according to Apple at just 8.8mm compared to the older iPad at 13.2mm. That is actually the first time I’ve realized the thinness of the old iPad in millimeters, but thats OK. I actually caught something curious here, as you can see in the Engadget live blog of the event.

Notice in the above slide that Apple provided, that the iPad 2 is 8.8mm (which is correct, by the way). Now look at the photo below, a capture of a video that Apple played near the end of the event:

Yeap, that measurement is wrong. If you go to Apple.com now and try to view this promotional video, it will show the thinness meter ‘climb’ to 8.8mm. Engadget must have snapped their photo early, possibly making it confusing for anyone who saw those photos without watching the actual video. I just found it fun to notice and point that out.

So, as I said, the new iPad 2 can be summed up with the first picture. Faster, thinner, lighter, FaceTime, and Smart Covers with the same 10 hour battery of the original, coming on March 11th at the same price points starting at $499. Exactly how much thinner and faster is it?

At 8.8mm, the iPad 2 is 33% thinner than its predecessor, and roughly 1.3lbs for all versions, compared to the 1.5 or 1.6lbs of the original (for wifi vs. wifi+3G models, respectively). I’ve always thought the original iPad was just a tad heavy for my liking, so any weight reduction without taking away functionality is a welcome one. Well, rather than reducing functionality with weight, they actually increased functionality, as you’ll see.


The iPad 2 has brand new silicon for powering the device. It has a brand new processor which has 2 cores that Apple calls the A5. Right off the bat, Apple says it is twice as fast as the original, yet doesn’t compromise on battery life.

Interestingly, Apple do not seem to have provided the clock speed of the processor, despite having done so on the original (the original is a 1ghz A4 processor). Perhaps they felt revealing the clock speed was disadvantageous to marketing, as they did the same thing with the iPhone 4’s A4 processor (which Anandtech has estimated to be roughly ~800mhz). Had Apple published the ~800mhz speed of the iPhone 4’s processor, I’m sure many people would have been turned off, but instead, Apple let the speed of iOS running on it speak for itself.

Apple also says the graphical capabilities of iPad 2 are up to 9x the original. In fact, the new iPad now has an available accessory for HDMI out to mirror the display in real time to an external display – something the original iPad cannot do if I understand correctly. This can be really nice for giving keynote presentations, providing you have a external display available with HDMI.

If you see the picture of the racing game above, the graphics look pretty nice. I’m excited as to how 9x faster graphics and the inclusion of a gyroscope will change the look and feel of games designed specifically for iPad 2 and newer games. In fact, I wonder exactly what game that is in the photo?

The new iPad also comes with a new case designed by Apple. Well, Apple actually says they should not be called cases, and I agree with them. Instead, they are called ‘Smart Covers’, and they are attached to the iPad 2 using magnets. They auto align themselves perfectly, and have a microfiber lining on the inside to help protect and keep the screen clean. They also fold to function as both a typing stand and to allow the iPad to stand up for viewing videos or something similar. Its clever, but I find myself prefering the iPad style case they did for the original iPad.

The final feature that allows these to be called smart covers, is that they remove the need to ‘slide to unlock’ your iPad. They automatically detect when the cover is peeled and unlock the iPad (presumably only when you don’t have a passcode lock set). I wonder how this feature is triggered? I assume from the videos that it is triggered when any of the magnets are detached, so using the original iPad case would probably not allow this feature, which is a shame. Its probably too thin to fit nicely in the old case anyway, even if the other dimensions were the same.

The smart covers come in 10 colors and 2 materials. A polyurethane version is available for $39 and comes in the 5 colors on the left, while a leather version is available for $69 and comes in the 5 colors displayed to the right of the iPad.

Speaking of colors, if you haven’t noticed from the photos already, the new iPad 2 comes in 2 colors! The 2 colors are of course the traditional black and white that Apple loves to use. Unlike previous iDevices however, the colors only show up on the front of the device, while the back is the usual silver aluminum. Steve Jobs also quipped during the keynote that the white ones will be availble right away, to which the audience applauded. No doubt he is poking fun at the fact that the iPhone 4 in white has been delayed for a really long time. Hey, that comment scores points with me :).

And last but not least, in my opinion, the addition of the front and rear cameras are the most significant new feature in the new iPad. It was probably a good thing that Apple left the cameras out of the first iPad, since there wasn’t really any significant competition for tablets last year, and now they can use that as one of the big reasons you need to update to the iPad 2.

The iPad 2 comes with 2 new cameras, with the better camera facing the back, and a front facing VGA camera. The front camera is capable of 640×480 resolution regardless of if you are taking a photo with it, or taking video. It can take video at 30fps and is almost certainly exclusively there for Facetime video chat and maybe some Photobooth to mess around with your own face(s). The rear camera is confirmed to take 720p video at 30fps. The megapixels for the camera are curiously not revealed, suggesting this is the same or similar to the camera on the iPod touch 4g, meaning a 960×720 resolution for photos. Competitors certainly are looking like they will have a lead over Apple on the specs of their cameras, which I’m sure they will exploit in their marketing against the iPad 2.

All these improvements are ‘shipping’ on March 11th at the exact same price points as the original iPad regardless of color:

iPad Wifi 16gb: $499
iPad Wifi 32gb: $599
iPad Wifi 64gb: $699
iPad Wifi+3G 16gb: $629
iPad Wifi+3G 32gb: $729
iPad Wifi+3G 64gb: $829

As with the original iPad, only the Wifi+3G model will include a GPS, meaning if you want GPS functionality in your iPad, you’ll have to plunk down the additional $130 for the Wifi+3G model. The Wifi+3G model also has the black plastic window on the top back of the device, just like the original. The plastic is used to allow wireless signals to pass more freely, since the rest of the casing is metal. The Wifi model presumably uses the glass Apple logo on the back center of the device much like the original iPad to allow wireless signals to enter and exit the enclosure, negating the need for a separate plastic window for it.

For remaining stock of the original iPad, Apple is selling them at $100 off of their respective original prices. Refurbished original iPads knock off an additional $50, making the total savings $150 if you choose to buy a 1st generation refurbished iPad.

So, do you guys think you’ll buy one? And if so, which model and color? Let us know in the comments!

Some more photos:

Sources:

www.apple.com/ipad
http://www.engadget.com/2011/03/02/live-from-apples-ipad-2-event/