The iPad 2 is Finally Here
The headlines might be dominated by GDC 2011 talk, but that didn't stop Apple from unveiling its latest tablet, the iPad 2. According to internal figures, Apple sold 15 million iPads in 2010 (April through December), and Steve Jobs and Co. are looking to build off that success.
Black and White
So what's so different about the iPad 2? Well, the first thing you'll probably notice is the white bezel. While Apple is still leaving white iPhone 4 fans hanging, the new iPad will ship in black and white (in front, it's still aluminum on the back). The bezel color has no impact on pricing.
Thinner is Better
Next up is the thickness; while the original iPad is 13.4 mm thick and the iPhone 4 is 9.3 mm thick, the iPad 2 comes in at 8.8 mm. It's also lighter than the original iPad by 0.2 pounds (3.2 ounces).
The A5 Chip
The iPad 2 has a brand new processor: the A5. The A5 is a 1 GHz dual-core SoC (System on a Chip), with graphics capabilities that are supposedly nine times faster than the A4. Even with the new muscle, Apple is still touting a ten hour battery life for the device.
The iPad Finally Gets HDMI
One of the bigest gripes about the original iPad was the lack of HDMI out. While the iPad 2 doesn't have an HDMI port on its person, there is a new adapter that supports the standard. The new Digital AV Adapter connects via the unchanged 30-pin adapter, and the dongle houses an HDMI port (which should work with any HDMI cable) and a 30-pin extension for charging and syncing. The adapter will retail for $39.
Sharing video from your iPad onto an HDTV is a no-brainer, and it's good to see that Apple has finally realized this. From the looks of it, video mirroring is the only option, so don't expect any sort of iOS desktop extension.
EDIT: Good news! Apple has confirmed that the Digital AV Adapter will be backwards-compatible with the iPhone 4, iPod Touch (4th Gen) and the original iPad. While the iPad gets 1080p output (thanks to its A5 SoC) the other devices are limited to 720p.
While the Digital AV Adapter is sure to be a hit, we're not so sure about this next new accessory. The Smart Cover that Apple debuted today attaches with magnetic hinges to the front of your iPad. The cover, besides, the obvious, can also act as a mini-stand, so it takes the original iPad cover/case idea one step further. The cover will also automatically make the iPad go to sleep or wake up.
Smart Cover Colors
The cover will go for $39 (polyurethane) or $69 (leather), and will be available in ten different colors (five for the polyurethane material, and five for leather).
Along with the two video cameras on the iPad 2, Apple is releasing FaceTime. The video chat app will work seamlessly with iPhone, iPod Touch and Mac users.
Apple is also including a free Photo Booth app, which looks like it can make any photo interesting.
This $4.99 app will make taking and sharing video a breeze. Without any other programs or devices, iPad 2 users can shoot, edit and share video online. So far the video sites onboard are YouTube, Vimeo, CNN (iReport) and Facebook.
A favorite amongst the Mac crowd, GarageBand will also be available in the App Store for $4.99. The app will feature 8 track recording, plenty of touch instruments, and the ability to email yourself songs in AAC format.
Pricing and Availability
Even with all the new hardware, Apple is keeping the iPad 2 pricing the same as the original. As Steve Jobs pointed out during the iPad unveiling in San Francisco, there are going to be five iPad 2 models under $800, which just happens to tbe price of the Motorola XOOM. While the processor is the same, the new iPad 2 will ship with the same display and storage options as the original, with the amount of RAM still up in the air. iPad 2 preorders start on March 11, with the sell date still TBD.
Double the Carriers, Double the Fun
The 3G version of the iPad 2 will be available for both Verizon and AT&T. Not only does that bode well for consumers in general (more choice is always better) but it also bodes well for whatever the next iPhone is. Be it the 4 GS or 5, this is an indication that it will likely be available on the Verizon network.
Apple also announced the next version of iOS: 4.3. The latest version will ship on the iPad, and will bring a new Mobile Hotspot feature with it. However this feature, which will support up to four devices, will only work on the iPhone 4 and not the iPad. Other new features include faster Safari performance, built-in iTunes Home Sharing, and compatibility with AirPlay for media and remote printing.