|The camera application on the iPad 2 demonstrated after its launch in San Francisco|
The new device is 33% thinner than the previous one (8.8mm vs.13.4mm), and it's 15% lighter.
It tips the scales at 601g to 607g depending on the model (vs. 680g to 730g previously), so you'll feel it less in your lap or knapsack. But it's still hefty for reading while standing up, like when you're in a bus.
It retains the 9.7in display and has the same resolution (1,024 x 768-pixel, at 132 pixels per inch) as the iPad, debunking those Retina Display rumours that were circulating.
But as predicted, the iPad 2 has front and rear facing cameras. The VGA camera on the front is meant for use with Apple's FaceTime video-chat application, allowing users to videoconference with iPad 2 users over a WiFi connection, as well as with users of the iPhone 4 and Macs.
The iPad 2's rear camera is capable of recording 720p High Definition videos, though it may seem odd to be recording videos with a slate-like device.
Another significant improvement in the iPad 2 is its dual-core Apple A5 processor. This processor, Apple claims, works 2x faster than the one in the original device, which will improve web surfing and multitasking on the iPad 2.
This is also a built-in gyroscope now a-la the iPhone 4, which more accurately measures movement and the orientation of the new Tablet. This should certainly come in useful for games.
And speaking of games, Apple said the iPad 2 will offer enhanced graphical performance that will make games like Infinity Blade run smoother.
Many are likely disappointed that the iPad 2 didn't get a built-in SD Card slot, which would have made it easy to transfer data to and from the device.
But it does have a brand new video-mirroring feature that allows users to output at a full 1080p on their High Definition TVs, via an Apple Digital AV adaptor cable (US$39).
|The iPad 2 is 33% thinner than its predecessor|
iMovie was introduced for mobile devices last year so people could do video-editing on the fly on their iPhone 4, in particular. Now Apple has opened up the opportunity to iPad users as well, with an iPad-specific iMovie application, that is priced at US$4.99 at its App Store.
This new version of iMovie will take advantage of the iPad 2's large screen, which makes it even easier for users to edit HD videos captured via the rear camera.
iMovie for iPad 2 will also offer new themes, a more precise editor, and multitrack audio recording.
For the musicians among us, GarageBand - Apple's premier music creation software - is on the iPad 2.
This opens up a world of virtual musical instruments, such as keyboards, guitar and drums, that can be played on the Tablet. An electric guitar can also be plugged in. And the sessions can be recorded and manipulated.
Will the iPad 2's battery life be affected by all these new features? No, said Apple. Users still get the up-to-10-hours battery life that is a capability with the original iPad.
Like with the previous model, the iPad 2 comes in two versions - a WiFi only device and one that has both WiFi and 3G connectivity.
Also important, especially to those with both an iPhone 4 and an iPad 2 is that the new Tablet can now use the iPhone 4 as a portable WiFi hotspot.
Some users may not need to opt for the higher priced 3G-capable iPad 2 because of this, and will save on 3G connectivity costs, too.
The iPhone 4 will get this functionality with the arrival of the iOS 4.3 update to its operating system that is scheduled for a March 11 release. Sorry, iPhone 3GS users won't enjoy this feature.
Those who insist on more colour can opt for Apple's range of iPad 2 Smart Covers. These come in 10 colours, including blue, green, orange, pink, beige and brown. In leather, it's US$69 each, and US$39 in vinyl.
|Those who insist on more colour can opt for Apple's iPad 2 Smart Cover in 10 colours, |
including blue, green, orange, pink, beige and brown
The smart thing about this magnetic cover is that when a user opens it, the iPad 2 will switch on. When you close it, the device goes into hibernation mode.
Aside from protecting the Tablet, the Smart Cover can be folded into a stand, when a user needs to type or watch a video or slideshow, for example.
The iPad 2 will go on sale in the United States on March 11, and from March 25, it will hit the shelves only in 26 other countries.
iPad 2 prices are between US$499 and US$829, same as with the original pricing for the iPad.
Apple has also dropped its prices for the iPad.
Apple sold 15 million iPads in nine months when the original device made its debut in April, last year.