"An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." - Arthur Miller

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

iPad 2 Announced

Today Steve Jobs briefly returned from his medical leave to announce the next iteration of the iPad (video), simply dubbed iPad2 even though the official name remains the iPad. Overall the device once again moves the bar forward on design, continuing to make Apple's competitors look obsolete even before their attempt at a first wave of competing devices hit the market. This time last year I was not a fan of the iPad, expecting the Android and Windows based pads to not only be on the market in droves but be priced competitively and often a lot more options. That day has yet to arrive and the new thinner, fast iPad means that waiting on those devices is pointless. The iPad will hit stores starting March 11th.

The iPad 2 isn't really a technological leap forward but just a small movement much like the iPhone 4 was compared to the 3GS. But when your competition is asleep at the wheel a small move still looks gigantic by comparison. The overall internal stats are really nothing special from one version to the next. The screen is the same; the storage is the same, battery life, wi-fi and so forth. The major changes are a boost in processor speed with the A5 duel-core chip, a front and rear facing cameras, and a 33% thinner device. Considering size does matter, the thinner the better. Current rumors indicate that Apple only has 256MB RAM so that remains a bit of a bottleneck for speed. Hand-on tests (video below) show a beautiful device (that will be available in white) that is much faster in response, .2 ounces lighter, and more comfortable to hold.

Along with the iPad are a few accessories. A new magnetic cover (that doubles as a stand) will be available that is not designed to protect the iPad from falls but at least prevents screen scratches. As the usual for Apple, the cover is priced at least double what it should be with polyurethane ($40) and leather ($70) types that come in 10 colors total. Apple is also releasing an HDMI dongle for $40 that will allow a mirrored output to HDTVs in 1080p. The last “addition” of sorts is iOS 4.3 (coming March 11th) which really adds little to the existing software except for FaceTime which works similar to the iPhone 4 version to take advantage of the cameras.

With Apple now clearly lapping the competition in every way, sadly there is no reason to wait on buying the iPad because a "better" device is likely a year away when Apple introduces the iPad 3. It seems HP, Acer and the rest just can't figure out how to catch up but one hopes they do sooner rather than later.

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