Jobs unveils thinner, faster iPad 2

Thursday, March 3, 2011, 8:52 by Tech Correspondent

Move over Android tablets, the mighty iPad 2 is here

Taking a break from his medical leave, Apple chief Steve Jobs has launched the iPad 2 (yes, that indeed is what it’s called) in San Francisco.

The next generation of the tablet PC that took the computing world by a storm last year is slimmer, lighter, faster and packs in all those features that we wished it would. Jobs clearly aware of the winner he has on his hands, has declared 2011 “the year of iPad 2.”

Pricing and availability

While the iPad 2 goes on sale in the United States on March 11, it will hit 26 more countries across the globe on March 25. Sadly, India is not among those 26 countries to get the iPad 2 (not surprising, considering Apple recently dumped the original iPad in India).

The iPad 2 will carry the same price tag, and storage limits, as the original iPad. Therefore, the iPad 2 prices would range from $499 (Wi-Fi only, 16GB) to $829 (Wi-Fi + 3G, 64GB). So, we can expect the iPad 2 to be priced between Rs. 27,900 and Rs. 44,900 when it finally hits Indian shores (probably in 2012).

ipad 2 photo

Photo: Apple iPad 2

While Apple has kept the size of the LED-backlit iPad tablet unchanged at 9.7 inches, let us appraise you with the key features of the iPad 2.

Dual core processor

The new iPad is powered by Apple’s new dual-core A5 processor, bringing itself on par with Android Honeycomb tablets, such as, Motorola Xoom. Jobs says that the iPad 2 is twice as fast the original iPad and that the new processor will boost graphics performance up to 9 times the original.

Design and hardware

The iPad 2 is an astounding 33 percent thinner than the first iPad, measuring 0.35 inches in thickness, against the original iPad’s 0.5 inches. The new iPad is also 15 percent lighter; the iPad 2 weighs 1.3 pounds, while the original weighed 1.5 pounds. The thinner and lighter form factor means more mobility – a definite plus for a tablet device.

ipad 2 design photo

Photo: The iPad 2 is 33 percent thinner

Dual cameras

The new iPad features two cameras: front-facing VGA camera for FaceTime video chats and Photo Booth photo captures, and a rear camera which is capable of recording 720p HD video. With FaceTime, iPad 2 users can make calls to iPhone 4, iPad Touch and Mac users.

Apple iOS 4.3

The iPad 2 comes with iOS 4.3, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, with new features including faster Safari mobile browsing performance; iTunes Home Sharing (wirelessly sharing music, videos and podcasts); enhancements to AirPlay; the choice to use the iPad side switch to either lock the screen rotation or mute audio; and Personal Hotspot to share an iPhone 4 data connection over Wi-Fi.

Battery life

Despite a thinner body and a more powerful processor, the iPad 2 will deliver the same good old battery life of 10 hours, like the original iPad. Superior battery performance has always been Apple’s speciality and it keeps up that legacy with the iPad 2.

ipad 2 hdmi photo

Photo: iPad 2 has HDMI output capabilities

Entertainment quotient

Previously seen in iPhone 4, the new iPad 2 comes with a built-in three-axis gyroscope for advanced gaming. Coupled with the in-built accelerometer and compass, the iPad 2 will offer a better gaming experience.

The iPad 2 comes with an HDMI feature but in order to use it, you need to purchase a special Apple adapter for $39.

The iMovie and GarageBand apps are now available for the iPad, allowing users to edit video and audio.

New iPad-specific apps

Apple claims that it has over 65,000 applications designed specifically for the iPad 2’s large display in its App Store. On the other hand, Android Honeycomb tablets only have about 100 apps available to them till now. Android app developers will soon catch up once Android 3.0 is released, but such a huge number of iPad 2 apps will definitely help in the popularity of the device.

White iPad 2

While Apple planned to sell a white color version of the iPhone 4 last year, the plan was eventually scrapped. Many people were looking forward to a white iPhone and probably will get to see it only this spring. But, the iPad 2 will be available with an option of black or white color from Day 1, when it goes on sale on March 11.

ipad smartcover photo

Photo: Apple iPad 2 Smart Cover comes in a variety of colors

Smart Cover

The iPad 2 Smart Cover provides protection for the iPad screen without adding to its weight. Designed with a unique self-aligning magnetic hinge that makes it easy to attach and remove, the Smart Cover automatically wakes iPad 2 when it’s opened and puts it to sleep when it’s closed. The Smart Cover also folds into a stand for typing or viewing videos and is available in polyurethane for $39 or leather for $69 in a range of colors.

So, there you go folks. Has the new iPad 2 got you excited, or would you rather go for an Android Honeycomb device? Let us know in comments!

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