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Apple's iPad 2: Does It Measure Up?

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Apple has done it again by announcing the release of iPad 2, available starting on March 11, 2011. In this article, Jason R. Rich examines the new hardware, talks about the tablet's best new features, and discusses whether or not existing iPad users should consider immediately upgrading to the new wireless device.
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Less than one year after Apple made history by releasing the original iPad tablet, the company's CEO Steve Jobs wowed the world again when he announced the pending release of iPad 2. Once again stepping light years ahead of its competition, the new iPad 2 tablet offers significant advancements over not just the original iPad, but over the majority of competing tablets on the market.

While other hardware manufacturers are only now releasing tablet devices that might rival the original iPad, no other company is currently offering a tablet that's as technologically advanced as iPad 2, that's as competitively priced, or that offers the same level of third-party app support.

So, if you've heard about the tablets announced or recently released by Dell, RIM/Blackberry, Samsung, HP or Motorola, and you're considering which tablet to purchase, with the pending launch of Apple's iPad 2 on March 11, 2011, the choice just became much easier.

What's New With The iPad 2

Like the original iPad, the new tablet will be priced between $499.00 and $829.00, depending on the system configuration. Some of the most noticeable and significant improvements made to iPad 2 include its 33 percent thinner design (it's now 8.8mm thick), lighter weight (now just 1.3 pounds), and the addition of video cameras located on both the front and back of the unit (the camera on the back is HD). Yet, despite these advancements iPad 2 offers a solid 10 hours of battery life.

The 9.7-inch (diagonal) multi-touch display has also been improved and now includes a fingerprint-resistant coating. Offering a 1024-by-768 pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch, this redesigned display will nicely showcase the vastly faster and crisper graphics that the iPad 2 is capable of displaying.

iPad 2 also boasts a significantly faster duel-core processor (utilizing Apple's proprietary A5 chip), and is capable of displaying graphics nine times faster than the original iPad. Available in a white or black housing, iPad 2 will be available in a Wi-Fi only version, as well as Wi-Fi + 3G versions (supported by AT&T Wireless or Verizon).

At launch iPad 2 will operate using the iOS 4.3 operating system, which Apple plans to also make available for the iPhone and original iPad on March 11th. Thus, iPad 2 will be fully compatible with the 350,000 existing third-party iPhone/iPad apps currently available. This includes more than 65,000 apps specifically designed for the iPad.

In addition to the built-in apps that iPad users are already familiar with, an iPad version of FaceTime (for video conferencing), Photo Booth (for candid photo taking and editing), iMovie for iPad (for video editing), and GarageBand for iPad (for music creation), will either be bundled with iPad 2 or available as inexpensive downloads in conjunction with the new tablet's launch.

Apple has also taken an extremely innovative approach to protecting and transporting the iPad 2 using what the company calls "Smart Covers." These ultra thin screen covers, which come in 10 different colors, are made from either durable polyurethane or leather and attach in seconds to the iPad 2 using magnets.

Not only do these "Smart Covers" protect the tablet's screen, they also serve as a foldable and adjustable stand and help to keep the iPad 2's screen clean thanks to a micro-fiber lining on the inside.

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