Apple declined Maximum Tech entry into its temporary ivory tower at the Yerba Buena Gardens for today's iPad 2 announcement. However, our own Susie Ochs from sister site Mac|Life scored a ticket to savor the sights and sounds of the latest "it" gadget.
We have all of her hands-on initial feelings by proxy after the jump.
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. We have all of those details after the break.
You may remember Dr. Raymond Soneira, President of DisplayMate Technologies, who's helped us explain why so many advertised display specs are hokum and misdirection. Now, the respected display scientist is offering his own predictions about the future of the iPad.
On March 2, Apple is holding a press event in which many believe the Cupertino outfit will officially introduce its second generation iPad tablet. Knowing this, if you already own an iPad and don't have any interest in switching platforms, you might be tempted to toss your tablet up on Craigslist or eBay before the value takes a nosedive. But will it be worth upgrading to the iPad 2?
According to the latest gossip, we're about find out how Apple plans to compete with Motorola's Xoom, RIM's PlayBook, HP's TouchPad, and every other potentially awesome tablet in the pipeline. While the original iPad is going to look long in the tooth before long, Kara Swisher of All Things D claims to have heard from "several sources close to the situation" that Apple's planning an iPad media event on March 2, 2011.
Apple intelligence site 9to5Mac.com posted pictures of what it claims is the iPad 2's LCD screen, "fresh out of China." While 9to5Mac couldn't say whether or not the new screen will run a higher resolution or is a "Retina" display, the site did say that "it is definitely higher quality in terms of its build."
It's also both thinner and lighter than first-gen iPad devices and has a smaller surrounding frame. Other than that, there's isn't any new information to go on, just a handful of pics to gawk at, including comparisons of first- and second-generation iPad LCD screens.
We can find plenty to fault with Apple's iPad -- no Flash support, no USB port, no cameras, no microSD card slot, and the list goes on -- although performance isn't one of them. Maybe that will change once tablets emerge built around Google's Android 3.0 platform, but by then, we'll be closer to the second generation of iPads, and there's good reason why the competition should be worried.
According to Apple Insider, the iPad 2 will burn rubber with a dual-core SGX543 graphics chip, which offers twice the performance of the SGX535 SoC that's currently in use. Look for OpenCL support to be part of the package, too.
Keeping in mind that this info is based on Apple Insider's un-named sources, there's plenty for Apple fans to get excited about, and for others to be a little worried.
"The most likely configuration of Apple's next custom chip is reportedly the SGX543MP2, which pairs two SGX543 cores to work as one, offering around four times the capability of the previous A4 in graphics and video tasks," Apple Insider said.
That kind of performance boost would be nothing short of impressive and would put the pressure on the competition to keep up. And all that performance won't be used just for gaming, but also for rendering fonts in productivity apps, hardware acceleration, and more.
Apple's iOS 4.2 update for the iPad hasn't even been available to the general public for 24 hours, yet some are already looking forward to Apple's next generation tablet, the iPad 2.
Brian Marshall, an analyst with Gleacher & Co., recently told ComputerWorld that Apple will stick with its annual refresh roadmap for its tablet, just like the Cupertino company has done with its iPhone for the past three years.
"I think April is the proper time frame for an iPad 2," Marshall said. "Since I'm projecting that Apple will release a CDMA iPhone in March, both will help to equalize Apple's seasonality."
There has been water cooler talk around the Web that Apple might release a second iPad sooner than originally planned in order to compete with the avalanche of tablets that are supposed to hit the market, but Marshall isn't buying it. He also isn't buying into the speculation that suggests the next iPad will be smaller than the original.
"It will be the same form factor, but with dual-camera functionality," Marshall said.
Early adopters of Apple's iPad knew what features they were forfeiting in order to be at the forefront of the tablet revolution, but what they might not have known is how quickly Apple would render its first-gen slate obsolete.
According to Apple news, rumors, and analysis site AppleInsider.com, Steve Jobs and his Cupertino cohorts are planning to release a second-gen iPad ahead of Apple's 12-month product refresh cycle for iOS devices. Citing "a person with proven knowledge of Apple's future product plans," Apple Insider says there's already a version of an upcoming iPad with a built-in video camera and support for FaceTime.
The source didn't say exactly when the iPad 2 would ship, but did say Apple is trying to push the device in time for this year's holiday shopping season, which is about the same time we should start seeing competing tablets from everyone else. And therein lies the reasoning behind Apple's rush to update its iPad, which has so far been selling well as the only game in town despite a spate of missing features.