After much speculation and hype, Apple finally unveiled its new and improved second generation iPad, the iPad 2. The iPad 2 comes equipped with a more streamlined design, better performance, integrated cameras, and many more features that Apple and tech fans alike have been waiting for.
The improvements packed into the iPad 2 begin with its design. The device is thinner than its predecessor, as it has gone from the iPad's original 0.5 inch thickness down to 0.34 inches. It also measures 9.5 inches tall by 7.31 inches wide, which are both slightly smaller than the first iPad. The iPad 2 is tad lighter as well, weighing in at 1.33 pounds. Another welcome design feature is the fact that the iPad 2 will immediately ship in either black or white. The original iPad only shipped in black.
In terms of performance, the iPad 2 is powered by a fast 1 GHz Apple A5 dual-core processor. The processor not only offers CPU performance that is twice as fast, but it also maintains low power consumption. The dual-core processor also offers faster graphics performance. Combine that with a built-in gyroscope, and gaming fans can look forward to an enriched experience while playing games on the iPad 2. Despite the beefier processor, the new tablet's battery life is said to still hover around the ten hour mark.
Besides the enhanced performance, the iPad 2 offers more to look forward to in terms of its operating system. At Apple's official press conference for the iPad 2, iOS 4.3 was previewed.
Without a doubt, Apple's camera integration into the iPad 2 is one of its most awaited upgrades. There is now a front-facing VGA camera, as well as a rear-facing 720p camera for HD video recording. The camera also boasts a 5x digital zoom. The inclusion of cameras fulfills the requests of many consumers who complained about the lack of such a feature on the first iPad.
In terms of connectivity, the iPad 2 will come in both Wi-Fi-only and Wi-Fi plus 3G editions. Wi-Fi plus 3G offers users more convenience in terms of its connectivity, and should appeal to those constantly on the go. Speaking of 3G, the iPad 2 will not have dual-mode functionality, so you will have to choose between Verizon (CDMA) or AT&T (GSM).
Plenty of new accessories have also been revealed that will complement the iPad 2 nicely. The Smart Cover improves on the original iPad cover by doubling as a stand. It protects the iPad 2 without adding much bulk, and automatically awakens or puts the iPad 2 to sleep when opened or closed. The Smart Case will come in five different colors, and its price will range from $39 to $69, depending on whether you select its poly or leather version.
Another iPad 2 accessory is the HDMI video-out cable. It allows you to transmit whatever is on your iPad screen to a larger television, up to 1080p. The accessory is user-friendly and will also charge the tablet during use. The cable will retail for $39.
As stated earlier, the iPad 2 will officially become available at Apple Stores in the United States on March 11. It is set to go on sale at 5 PM local time, and you can bet that there will be huge lines of customers hoping to purchase an iPad 2 of their own. Due to the closeness of the official ship date, Apple is not accepting pre-orders for the iPad 2. In other words, get ready to stand in line.
If you do not live near an Apple Store, there are some other retail options for purchasing the iPad 2. Apple has said that the iPad 2 will only be available on the company's website, at Apple Stores, and at select Apple Authorized Resellers. One of these resellers is Best Buy, which claims that it will have the iPad 2 in stock on March 11. Other possible retailers include Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, AT&T stores, and Verizon stores.
The new tablet's international release will commence on March 25 and 26 in various countries across the globe. Apple did a similar international release last year with the first iPad by shipping it to blocks of countries on different dates.
The iPad 2's pricing mirrors that of the original iPad when it was first released. The 16 GB and 32 GB Wi-Fi versions will retail for $499 and $599, respectively. The 64 GB Wi-Fi version will cost $699. The Wi-Fi plus 3G versions offer much more functionality and freedom to move around, and thus cost much more than the Wi-Fi-only versions. The 16 GB Wi-Fi plus 3G edition will cost $629, and its 32 GB and 64 GB editions will cost $729 and $829, respectively.
Since the iPad 2 is likely to catch the attention of most consumers, Apple is offering some significant price breaks on the original iPad. The first generation 16 GB Wi-Fi version of the iPad now sells for $400. The 32 GB Wi-Fi version has been discounted to $500, and the price of the 16 GB Wi-Fi plus 3G version of the first generation iPad has dropped to $530. Apple could very well see a spike in its first generation iPad sales with the introduction of the iPad 2, as many consumers have been waiting for the original iPad's prices to drop.
Considering the huge success of the original iPad, one has to wonder if the iPad 2 can top it. It's a definite possibility, as many consumers reportedly held off on buying the original in order to capitalize on the iPad 2's upgrades. But whether it's iPad or iPad 2 sales, both bring in more revenue to Apple's already robust bottom line.
The anticipated release of the iPad 2 should keep Apple fans satisfied for the time being, but it won't be long until rumors and discussions begin to surface concerning the future features and release of the third generation of the iPad.
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