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Apple iPad 2 Review: Faster, Thinner, Same Price

As expected, Apple unveiled its anticipated follow up to the popular iPad today. Steve Jobs came back from medical leave to show off the new iPad 2 that’s thinner, lighter, faster and still the same price as the original.

While other manufacturers struggle to release tablets at the same price point as the iPad, Apple seems to have struck gold with its tablet. The original iPad sold 15 million units, and Apple has managed to pack in many new features for the same price.

“Many have said [the iPad] is the most successful consumer product ever launched. Over 90 percent market share… our competitors were flummoxed. But we haven’t been resting on our laurels. Today we’re going to introduce iPad 2. It’s a completely new design. And it’s dramatically faster,” Jobs said.

Physically, the device hasn’t changed much from the front: same screen size and bezel, same aluminum back. But from the side there’s a noticeable difference. The iPad 2 is 33 percent thinner than its predecessor, making it thinner than the iPhone 4.

There are two more small additions on front and back, which are cameras that can be used to shoot pictures and video as well as video chat over FaceTime. The iPad 2 can FaceTime chat with iPhone and Mac users as well as other iPad 2 users.

Inside, the iPad has gone through a few changes as well. The new dual-core A5 processor has significantly boosted the tablet’s speed and graphics performance.

“We go all out on the graphics performance. Up to 9 times faster, same low power as A4. This will be the first dual core tablet to ship in volume,” Jobs said.

For all that has changed, some things have (thankfully) stayed the same.

“Now here we are adding stuff into the iPad. Cameras, faster CPUs, gyroscope and all this stuff. We’ve made it way thinner. Something’s gotta give. You would think we’d have to give up battery life. But we found a way… [it has] the same battery life as the original iPad.”

That means 10 hours of battery life and a month of charge on standby. Even more exciting, the pricing scheme has stayed exactly the same: $499 for 16GB Wi-Fi-only all the way up to $829 for 64GB 3G-capable.

However, some experts have expressed disappointment that the storage capacities did not improve.

The iPad 2 is launching with a new version of iOS 4.3 that adds some new functionality, as well as apps such as Photo Booth, iMovie and Garage Band, all of which have redesigned interfaces to allow for media editing on the iPad 2 touch screen.

The iPad 2 is set for a March 11 launch date in the U.S., with releases in 26 more countries on March 25. Even though the white iPhone still hasn’t appeared, there will be a white iPad 2 available at launch. Both the white and black versions will also be available on AT&T and Verizon.

Conclusion

People who suggest this is an incremental upgrade are simply not looking at the bigger picture; the Apple iPad 2 feels and acts drastically differently from its predecessor.

The plethora changes – some cosmetic, some under the hood – have boosted a device that felt like a luxury, to a device that is head and shoulders above its competitors at the moment.

The lighter, thinner iPad 2 is nicer to hold, nicer to use and nicer to look at – and if that’s not an important upgrade then maybe we’re missing the point