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Apple Launches iPad 2

2 Mar, 2011 By: Chris Tribbey

Apple’s iPad 2, launched March 2, is 33% thinner, 15% lighter, includes both front- and rear-facing cameras, supports both AT&T and Verizon 3G networks, and early first-hand accounts have it running much faster than the first iPad.

Available in either black or white, the iPad 2 will begin shipping March 11 and is priced the same as the first iPad upon its debut: $499 for the 16 GB WiFi model. The most expensive version, the 64 GB 3G model, has a list price of $829.

“With more than 15 million iPads sold, iPad has defined an entirely new category of mobile devices,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs said. “While others have been scrambling to copy the first generation iPad, we’re launching iPad 2, which moves the bar far ahead of the competition and will likely cause them to go back to the drawing boards yet again.”

The iPad 2 has a 10-hour battery, a new dual-core A5 processor, and the dual cameras allow for 720p HD video and FaceTime calls to iPhone 4s, iPod Touches and Mac computers.

Wayne Lam, senior analyst for IHI iSuppli said the addition of dual microprocessor cores — as opposed to a single core for the A4 running the original iPad — is significant. Besides offering nine times faster graphics performance, it helps Apple offer its operating system in a more efficient way.

“In the new design paradigm of smartphones and tablets, computing efficiency trumps raw computing power,” Lam said. “Designs like the iPad demand highly integrated microprocessors that emphasize graphics performance, lower power consumption and small space usage.”

The iPad 2 also features a “smart cover” that wakes the system when it’s opened and shuts it off when it’s closed, enhancements to Safari browsing and iTunes Home Sharing, and a built-in gyroscope for advanced gaming.

New applications introduced with the iPad 2 include iMovie, which lets users shoot and edit video on their iPad2 and then post to YouTube, Facebook and more. GarageBand for iPad 2 turns the system into a collection of touch instruments and an 8-track recording studio.

Will Richmond, editor of VideoNuze.com, said one of the more exciting additions to the iPad 2 is a new “video mirroring” feature, which, with a $39 digital A/V adaptor, turns the screen into an HDMI-capable, 1080p monitor.

“For presentations at the workplace or school this is an exciting new capability,” he wrote. “It also means that the iPad 2 becomes something of a mobile set-top box, allowing users to view their favorite videos on big screens outside their home.”

Users can load TV shows and movies via iTunes, and then connect directly to an HDTV, Richmond said.

“No more packing DVDs and having the kids hunched around a tiny portable DVD player's screen with crappy audio,” he said.

Bryan Gonzalez, director of social and digital media at the Entertainment Technology Center at the University of Southern California, pointed to Jobs’ definition of the iPad 2 as a “post-PC” device as evidence that tablets are changing the way people think about home computing.

“Apple also announced that iTunes, the App Store and iBooks, and has reached more than 200 million open accounts with credit cards on file, which translated to 200 million users who are ready and actively purchasing from the various Apple digital stores,” Gonzalez said. “More so than any other digital content provider, Apple has established a very large base of potential buyers of digital content.”

Meanwhile, numerous media reports March 3 said Apple was offering a $100 refund to those who purchased the first-generation iPad within two weeks prior to the March 2 iPad 2 unveiling.


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