What rumored features made the cut, and how will they affect performance of the device when it hits shelves next week? Let’s take a look.
The first thing you might notice about this new iPad is that it is thinner and lighter. Compared to the 1st iPad, the 2nd generation device is only a third of an inch thick, making it 33% thinner. The weight has also been reduced from 1.5 to 1.3 pounds. The overall screen size and shape hasn’t changed, however, with the same 10 inch screen found on the original iPad, with the same resolution as well.
Another change to the iPad 2 is the addition of two cameras to the device. The front facing camera will support VGA resolutions at 30 frames per second. Most users will use this camera with the iPad Photobooth and Facetime apps that will be available with iOS 4.3. The iPad’s version of Facetime will allow video calls to be made between iPad 2s, as well as iPhone 4s and Macs running the app. The rear facing camera will record 720p HD video at 30 frames per second, or take still shots with a 5x digital zoom. Apple will also be releasing a new iPad iMovie app for purchase on the app store to edit these videos while on the go.
Under the hood, the iPad 2 has been upgraded to a 1GHz dual-core Apple A5 processor. Apple claims this new processor will provide 2 times the processor power for apps and multitasking, along with a 9 times increase in graphics processing for when you want to take time out for some portable gaming. Equally important is that Apple states that the new processor won’t impact battery life, with a reported 10 hour battery life, the same as the original iPad.
Just like the original, the iPad 2 will come with options of 16, 32 and 64GB storage, along with both WiFi-only and 3G mobile + WiFi models. A key difference, though, is that the iPad 2 3G will be like the iPhone 4, and will be available in either a GSM model compatible with AT&T, or a CDMA model supporting Verizon. This will allow a choice in which mobile broadband provider the iPad 2 can be used with, but it does present a buying decision that will need to be made by potential owners.
The announcement also held news about iOS 4.3, which will be available on the same day as the iPad 2. With this update, Apple has improved performance with their mobile Safari web browser, added features to AirPlay to allow wireless streaming of videos shot on the iPad 2 with an Apple TV, and included the ability to access the music and video library stored on your computer via your wireless network with iTunes Sharing.
How will these changes impact the average iPad user? The thinner and lighter design will certainly make the already portable tablet even more so, but the screen size and resolution will still be familiar to those who already own the original. Storage sizes remain the same, but the improved processor will certainly help with web browsing and regular app use, while the improved graphics speed will help the iPad 2 compete in the portable gaming market dominated by Nintendo and Sony. Overall, the changes are more evolutionary than revolutionary, but Apple does get credit for sparking the latest tablet revolution with their original iPad last April.
The iPad 2 and iOS 4.3 will be available on Friday, March 11th. The 2011 tablet wars just got a little more interesting.