Thursday, March 3, 2011

Apple iPad 2 Unveiled

The successor to the world's most successful tablet is out. Apple has unveiled their new iPad 2.
Apple has sold 15 million iPad units in 2010, and currently has over 90% of the tablet market share - which isn't that much of a surprise considering most competitors aren't yet available on the stores. In fact, the iPad 2 will be out sooner than many of those.

But let's proceed to what really matters: the new iPad 2.

The new iPad isn't really much of a revolution, but a mere evolution bringing it up to speed to face the upcoming competitors shoulder to shoulder. And surprisingly, it will be available in both white and black models right from the start.

As for the hardware, you can count with a new improved A5 1Ghz dual-core processor, twice as fast as the previous A4; and 9x faster graphics! That's a very big speed bump indeed. Considering the original iPad was still speedy enough to look more fluid than many "upcoming" tablets, one can imagine just how much better this iPad 2 will be.

As for the RAM, it's not mentioned, but one would expect - at least - the same 512MB RAM as the iPhone 4 has.

You can also expect the other usual hardware parts: accelerometer, gyroscopes, and now... dual cameras!
A front facing one and a rear one capable of recording HD 720p video.

Best of all, battery life is kept at 10h even with extra performance, and the iPad itself is now thinner than ever, at just 8.8mm, and lighter than before.

The prices will be the same as the original iPad, starting at $499 and it will be available next week on March 11th. Thankfully, this time there are 26 more countries receiving it a couple weeks later (and that includes Portugal! Yes!)

As you'd exepect, the iPad now gets Facetime and PhotoBooth capabilities.

As far as accessories go, you can now get an HDMI out adaptor, allowing you to clone whatever is on your iPad screen to an HDTV television at up to 1080p. Making ideal for presentations and... lots other stuff.

As for protection cases. Not wanting to ruin its thinness, Apple decided to use a simple magnetic cover that can serve as stand in multiple orientations (and it even has micro-fiber lining to keep the screen clean).

The iPad 2 can even detect when you open/close the cover to wake it up or put it to sleep.

iOS 4.3

Lots of the new stuff were related to the new iOS 4.3 which will arrive on March 11th as well.
Browsing will be faster than ever, with up to 2x the performance in javascript thanks to the new Nitro JavaScript engine.

And while Apple didn't -yet- take the plunge to a full "cloud" experience, you can now access your iTunes content thanks to the iTunes Home Sharing, from anywhere in the world.

Air Play also receive some improvements, making it a lot more useful provided you have an AirPlay compatible device at home (and at least, you'll be more likely to get one to use it.) Now even web content will be able to be streamed over the air to your TV.

And you also get to pick whatever you want your mute/rotation lock button to do.

New Apps.. PhotoBooth, iMovie and GarageBand for iPad.

iMovie becomes a fully-fledged movie editor, and GarageBand will make the musician in you want an iPad even if for nothing else but to play with it.

And... that's about it. No "one more thing" surprises, and no thunderbolt connectivity as some would expect.

Now, all that is left to be seen if the rumors for a new improved iPad 3 out in the Summer will really be true.
The only way I could see that happen was if this iPad would launch at a cheaper price. Not being the case, I wonder if Apple really want to "cheat" their trusted loyal fan base with a brand new iPad just 6 months from now - now that they're used to the yearly update cycle.

This iPad 2 feels like just a simple "speed update", similar to the one we got from the iPhone 3G to the 3GS. The "really big" update should indeed come with the next iPad, which will hopefully bring an amazing retina display that will make our eyes cry out for more. :)
(I guess that's what the 9x graphic speed improvement is really meant for... as another step in that direction.)

Until then, the thinner iPad 2 will certainly the tablet to beat, and it will be great to have Honeycomb tablets, PlayBooks, and all other upcoming tablets, side-by-side, to see how well they fare against each other.

Now... if only Apple really took the time to fixe those awful iOS popup notifications once and for all...

[photos via Engadget]

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