iPad 2 unveiled

The iPad 2 is here

The iPad 2 was finally unveiled at 6pm last night, at a high-security Apple event in San Francisco's Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts. Following months of anticipation and rumours, not least concerning whether or not Steve Jobs would make an appearance at the event, the ailing CEO took to the stage to announce an all-new second-generation tablet.

The iPad 2 will be released in the US on 11 March 2011, and in the UK and other countries on 25 March, for the same price as the original tablet; as usual, larger memory and 3G will push the price up.

The new device is 33 per cent thinner at just 8.8mm, and weighs under 0.6kg. Some of the new features showcased at the event include:

  • Front- and rear-facing cameras enabling FaceTime and other photo applications such as Photobooth.
  • The A5 processor promises to make the CPU and graphics much faster.
  • HDMI compatibility allows the iPad 2 to be plugged into a TV or other large screen, great for video content or games.
  • A gyroscope, but also a button that can be used to lock the rotation.
  • iOS 4.3, boasting numerous small improvements and coming soon as an update to the iPhone 4.

Mixed reaction

As many critics have noticed, however, the main difference between the iPad and iPad 2 is aesthetic. The thinner, lighter tablet is available in black or white; in addition, the new Smart Cover was touted as a vast improvement, despite being sold separately for £24-£42. Working with magnets inside the iPad 2, the Smart Cover comes in a range of colours and can be folded to create a stand. When it's shut, it cleans the screen, and when it is opened, the device automatically wakes up.

Meanwhile, some industry experts bemoaned the lack of any surprises or major innovations, fuelling rumours of an iPad 3 in the not-so-distant future. Although the second-generation tablet is undoubtedly an improvement, there were also several features that experts felt would have been beneficial; for example, Matt Burns of CrunchGear criticised the lack of an SD card slot, or a screen with Retina display or Gorilla Glass.

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