Apple Announces iPad 2, Your iPad 1 is Obsolete

Paul Lilly

Sorry folks, but if you invested in a first generation iPad, your tablet is officially old news, behind the times, yesterday's headline, and all that jazz. As expected, Apple officially announced the iPad 2 today during a much anticipated press event in which everyone knew what was coming. What wasn't known, however, is what exactly would separate the iPad 2 from Apple's first generation tablet, or how the pricing would shake out.

Most of what was leaked out ahead of the launch turned out to be true. The iPad 2 maintains the same 9.7-inch LED backlit LCD screen as the original, only now the magical tablet is 33 percent thinner as it measures a scant 8.8mm, and up to 15 percent lighter, depending on which model you go with. It has a new dual-core A5 processor that's supposed to be twice as fast as the previous chip, as well as graphics performance that's nine times better than the original iPad. Even with the performance upgrades, Apple says the iPad 2 comes with the same 10-hour battery life as the original.

The iPad 2 sports a front-facing camera with FaceTime support, a feature many analysts considered a slam-dunk prediction. But it will also ship with a rear-facing camera capable of capturing 720p HD videos. Following Apple's planned obsolescence model, this one wasn't a given, though we suppose Apple's saving the 1080p recording for the iPad 3.

Along with a new tablet is a new "Smart Cover" that's different from the original cover. This new one utilizes a self-aligning magnetic hinge that's purportedly easy to attach and remove, and when opened, the iPad 2 automatically wakes up. Like the original, this one can fold into a stand for watching videos.

The new look iPad 2 will come in both black and white, which is interesting considering there still isn't a white iPhone 4 on the market, at least not from Apple. It will also get new digs in the form of iOS 4.3, which features a faster Safari browser, iTunes Home Sharing, enhancements to AirPlay, and Personal Hotspot so iPhone 4 users can share data connections over Wi-Fi. Also new to iOS 4.3 is the ability to configure the side switch to either lock the screen rotation or mute the audio.

All that's left is pricing and release date. You'll be able to buy an iPad 2 starting March 11 online at Apple, in Apple retail stores, and at select Apple Authorized Resellers, like Best Buy. Pricing is unchanged from the original, meaning:

  • iPad 2 16GB Wi-Fi: $499
  • iPad 2 32GB Wi-Fi: $599
  • iPad 2 64GB Wi-Fi: $699
  • iPad 2 16GB Wi-Fi + 3G: $629
  • iPad 2 32GB Wi-Fi + 3G: $729
  • iPad 2 64GB Wi-Fi + 3G: $829

The Smart Cover will come in two varieties, a polyurethane version for $39 and a leather version in a range of colors for $69. One of those colors will be red, which Apple says will help support the Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDs in Africa.

Thoughts on the new iPad 2? Do you think Apple did enough to keep the iPad relevant, or is it trumped by other modern tablets, like the Xoom, PlayBook, and TouchPad?

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