So, today was the day. Apple, getting away from the string of bad news, announced their iPad 2. For those of you who have been on the fence about picking up one of these devices, this version of Apple’s tablet may be the device that puts you over the edge.
The most immediate and noticeable change with the iPad 2 is the fact that it’s 33% slimmer than the version one iPad, measuring in at just under 9mm thick. The device weighs a little less as well, barely weighing 1.3lbs. But what it looks like is secondary to the internal hardware, which is a step above the iPad in every respect.
The iPad 2 features Apple’s A5 dual-core CPU, which allows for up to 9-times the speed for graphical processing and is, generally, twice as fast as the current iPad. The iPad 2 also comes equipped with two cameras: one front-facing, one on the rear, which can utilize Apple’s FaceTime software.
Speaking of which, the iPad 2 launches with iOS 4.3, which will bring with it new versions of the aforementioned FaceTime, as well as Photo Booth, iMovie and GarageBand. The last two, iMovie and GarageBand, will retail separately from the iPad 2 for $4.99 apiece. iOS 4.3 will also allow for personal hotspots, though this will only work with the iPhone 4. iPhone 3G and 3GS users are, sadly, SOL.
The iPad 2 will support HDMI via a hardware extension and the device will also have a “cover” available for it for between $39 and $69. These covers will not only protect the screen, but automatically turn the device on and off using the proximity sensors built into the iPad 2.
So, that leaves two questions: “When,” and “how much?” The answers: March 11th for $499. $499 is for the base model, of course, and other SKUs will be released. The iPad 2 will also be available for both AT&T and Verizon. The curious thing about the launch is that while online pre-orders will ship around at or near launch, those wanting to buy it from Apple stores will have to wait until 5pm.
Oh, and for those of you who are wondering: Yes, Steve Jobs was there and, to be honest, he looked quite good. Here’s hoping for a quick and full recovery from whatever health scares have kept him out of action.