Apple launches the iPad 2: faster, lighter, thinner


Apple has announced the follow-up for the iPad, announcing a model that brings speed increases and a new design, slaying quite a few of the hoped-for features as were rumoured.
Inside the iPad 2, the chip has been pushed from a single-core A4 to a dual-core A5, bringing it in-line with what rival companies such as Motorola and LG are planning to release in tablets this year.
The word “planning” however appears to be all the difference as Apple will be shipping its dual-core tablet in mass volume first, with America getting the new iPad as early as next week and Australia getting it on March 25.
That’s right, the iPad 2 beat out predictions for an April release date with a late-March timeframe.
Excited yet? You haven’t even heard what the upgrades entail.
“With more than 15 million iPads sold, iPad has defined an entirely new category of mobile devices,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “While others have been scrambling to copy the first generation iPad, we’re launching iPad 2, which moves the bar far ahead of the competition and will likely cause them to go back to the drawing boards yet again.”
It’s more than just a new chip, as the iPad 2 sports a new design, making it 33 percent thinner and up to 15 percent lighter than the first model. You’ll also find two cameras – a front and rear – capable of grabbing up to 720p HD video for use over FaceTime video conferencing.
Ten hour battery life is still a standard and Apple intend on reaching it, while providing higher speeds and more powerful graphics overs the 9.7 inch LED-backlit LCD screen.
And now, the issue with finding a cover for the iPad – something we wrote about last year – has been made a lot easier. Apple has created what it calls the “iPad 2 Smart Cover” with what it calls a “self-aligning magnetic hinge” for easy addition and removal on an iPad. Much like how the BlackBerry case switches on a BlackBerry phone when you pull it out of the case, the iPad 2 Smart Cover does the same with the iPad 2, flipping it on when you pull the cover away and flicking it back to standby when it’s closed.
All up, the iPad 2 looks like a worthy upgrade, but folks expecting rumours such as the high resolution Retina screen technology (similar to what’s currently found on the iPhone 4) and stronger carbon-fibre casing sadly won’t be getting their wishes to come true.
More importantly, pricing in Australia has dropped quite dramatically, putting the cost more squarely in-line with what America will be getting. While yesterday’s 16GB WiFi only iPad would have cost you $629, today’s will cost $449, a drop in price that will delight many first-time buyers. In fact, the top-of-the-range 64GB 3G/WiFi iPad once went past a thousand dollars, but now it’s just $839. We hope this pricing is reflected when Apple starts selling the iPad 2 locally in a few weeks, as it would make us even less expensive than buying from America.
It looks like Apple has well and truly brought the fight to competing tablet manufacturers, with a device that matches a lot of what we’re seeing but still manages to not blow out the price. Given the iPad competition we’re expecting from the likes of LG, Samsung, HTC, and Motorola to name but a few, this could (and definitely should) bring down the price of competing tablets quite dramatically.