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Posted at 5:47 PM ET, 03/ 2/2011

Apple's iPad 2: a hands-on report

By Rob Pegoraro

SAN FRANCISCO -- After Wednesday morning's unveiling of the iPad 2, Apple invited attendees to try out the hardware up close for the next hour or so.

iPad 2 Post.jpg

I only needed a minute to confirm one of Apple's claims: Yes, it's thin. At .34 inches, it makes a MacBook Air look fat. It's also lighter but still too hefty for extended reading while standing up.

Its screen resolution, dock connector, button layout and even, Apple says, its 10-hour battery life match what's on the current model. So does its pricing, which has to be giving manufacturers of other, upcoming tablets fits. (Apple has sliced the price of the original iPad by $100.)

As before, you can get a WiFi-only model in your choice of black or white with 16 gigabytes of storage for $499; a 32 GB model costs $599, and a 64 GB version sells for $699. (My advice: Don't get the white one. It's lot more likely to show off dirt and smudges.) Models with support for AT&T and Verizon's 3G mobile-broadband services cost an extra $130. Apple will start selling it on its Web site on March 11 and at 5 p.m. that day in its stores.

iPad 2 camera.jpg

Apple's presenters showed off the iPad 2's A5 processor by, among other tasks, using its Photo Booth app to distort video in real time. It should also make this model even more viable as a gaming device. (The annual Gaming Developers Conference is going on a few blocks away at the Moscone Center. I wonder how many of those programmers wish they could have sneaked into Apple's event.)

That processor also should come in handy for resource-intensive apps such as the new iPad versions of Apple's Garage Band and iMovie, both of which look remarkably like their Mac OS X versions.

iPad 2 Photo Booth.jpg

But until more applications use that chip for jobs that nobody thinks to do on a tablet now, the iPad 2's most interesting components have to be its front and back cameras. Neither will replace your camera or even your phone's camera for still photography. The front-facing camera has a VGA (640 by 480 pixel) resolution, while the back one offers a higher 720p (720 by 1028 pixel) resolution. The front can focus automatically; the back has a fixed focus.

Both do video and can stream that via Apple's FaceTime program. Other iPad applications, such as Skype, should be able to tap into each, as well. But you'll need one other item to do proper video conferencing on this device: a stand.

Apple hopes to cover that need with its Smart Cover, a nifty folding screen protector--in leather, for $69, or plastic, for $39, each with a choice of five colors. The cover magnetically latches to the side of the iPad 2. It has a weird sort of symbiotic relationship with the iPad, putting it to sleep when folded to cover the screen and waking it up automatically when you start to open it. You can then fold the cover into a triangle that either positions the iPad 2 for easy typing or stands it up for movie viewing.

iPad 2 Smart Cover stand.jpg

The iPad 2 sports the fewest changes from the original iPad in its software. Its updated iOS 4.3 software should finally bring its media-sharing AirPlay feature to fruition. But its notification system -- through which background apps can get your attention by throwing a note in front of everything else on the screen -- remains inadequate compared with what's on Android or HP's webOS. Current and upcoming iPad owners can only hope that a fix will come at some future Apple event.

6 p.m. Fixed a typo that had the iPad 2 almost a yard thick.

By Rob Pegoraro  | March 2, 2011; 5:47 PM ET
Categories:  Tablets  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Apple slashes original iPad price by $100
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Comments

"iPad"

"zzzz", continued

Dear Steve: can I be a dumb-azz and shell-out $700 for a netbook with a touchscreen for a keyboard and two integrated VGA cameras? LOL

Posted by: tokenwhitemale | March 2, 2011 6:36 PM | Report abuse

I've seen netbooks going for under 300. Unlike an ipad, a netbook is a full computer with USB ports, a real hard drive, and the ability to install programs and play media you didn't buy from Apple.

Posted by: jeff20 | March 2, 2011 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Still no CD/DVD drive, of course. It seems that this device is designed for users to CONSUME and PAY: for iTunes, Netflix, e-books, wireless service, etc. Download books, music, video, etc. for a fee; subscribe to e-magazines for a fee; pay extra to Verizon or AT&T.

Not feeling the charm, but I'm sure this fad will continue to redefine technology until the next big thing. Me, I'd rather have a Macbook Pro for portability. Meantime, I'll read actual books, listen to CDs (on a stereo with giant speakers), and watch DVDs on the TV.

I guess I'm not trendy enough, and certainly not rich enough, for the monthly expenses I imagine people are paying for their apps, tunes, e-books, streaming video, connectivity, etc.

Posted by: terrymulligan | March 2, 2011 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Rob,

Could you comment on the functionality as an ebook in sunlight? The original washes out in contrast to the Kindle, which mimics an actual book in sunlight. Is there any improvement in the iPad 2?

Posted by: tharriso | March 2, 2011 8:46 PM | Report abuse

True, you can get a netbook with features like USB ports for well under $300, but that is not the point. I have both, but generally travel with just the iPad at this point. The battery life is incredible! More than enough for 2 movies and a lot of reading and game playing on a flight from DC to Madrid. The screen is tons larger than a netbook and many news apps are specifically designed for the format. Games and utilities are fast and crisp. Plus, there is a near zero footprint.

I admit that my 16GB iPad was a holiday gift from my company, but now that I have one I don't know if I would ever give it up. As much as I would like to see one of the Android devices step up, I will probably buy an iPad 2 in a few months unless Motorola can resolve some of the issues with the Atrix/Bionic platform.

Posted by: AlligatorArms | March 2, 2011 9:08 PM | Report abuse

If the iPad 2 will only be able to run on a 3G network, how will it run Skype? I thought that had to be on a 4G network.

Posted by: Grant_x | March 2, 2011 9:59 PM | Report abuse

Does the new iPad play Flash?

Posted by: jnrosen | March 2, 2011 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Check out the video of the full Apple event here!

http://www.thedailytech.co/?p=264

Posted by: wanton777 | March 2, 2011 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Someone here wrote:

"Me, I'd rather have a Macbook Pro for portability."

It's heavy and costs a lot more than an iPad.

"Meantime, I'll read actual books"

"Actual" books are expensive compared to a book purchased via iTunes.

"listen to CDs (on a stereo with giant speakers), and watch DVDs on the TV."

CDs - expensive; giant speakers – expensive; DVDs - expensive; TV - expensive.

Which makes me wonder why this came next:

"I guess I'm not trendy enough, and certainly not rich enough, for the monthly expenses I imagine people are paying for their apps.
tunes, e-books, streaming video, connectivity, etc."

It would take a lot of apps and a lot of months to equal the cost of giant speakers, a TV, and a library of CDs and DVDs.

Posted by: davewyman | March 3, 2011 12:09 AM | Report abuse

In defense of the Samsung Galaxy Tab (and why it’s better than an Ipad or the Ipad 2 for that matter) http://goo.gl/gV2UK

Posted by: jasond58 | March 3, 2011 12:17 AM | Report abuse

Someone here wrote:

"Me, I'd rather have a Macbook Pro for portability."

It's heavy and costs a lot more than an iPad.

"Meantime, I'll read actual books"

"Actual" books are expensive compared to a book purchased via iTunes.

"listen to CDs (on a stereo with giant speakers), and watch DVDs on the TV."

CDs - expensive; giant speakers – expensive; DVDs - expensive; TV - expensive.

Which makes me wonder why this came next:

"I guess I'm not trendy enough, and certainly not rich enough, for the monthly expenses I imagine people are paying for their apps.
tunes, e-books, streaming video, connectivity, etc."

It would take a lot of apps and a lot of months to equal the cost of giant speakers, a TV, and a library of CDs and DVDs.

Posted by: davewyman | March 3, 2011 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Hmm, I think all of the rumors about the iPad 2 is reveals, so don't have too many surprise: Faster, Lighter, Thinner
Cameras and Gyro
iOS 4.3 +FaceTime&PhotoBooth
iMovie&GarageBand($4.99)
65,000 iPad Apps
3G on AT&T and Verizon
Same 10-hour battery life
Some upgrade are cool but can't really appeal to me, and buy it at once, I think I would stick with the 1gen iPad, and wait the iPad 3's launching in the autumn.
The 1gen iPad is not bad and magical yet: http://www.ifunia.com/ipad-column/index.html

Posted by: leey | March 3, 2011 1:25 AM | Report abuse

Hi jnrosen,

Douglas from RIM here. Your question about Flash is an important one when you’re buying – or building – a tablet. With millions of web pages using Flash, we’re pretty sure you’re visiting websites that rely on it, which means you are, too. The BlackBerry PlayBook has Flash 10.1 woven right into the fabric of its design to connect you to all the sites, videos, games and content that are important to you – with no exceptions, and without a loss in quality or functionality. With the power and reliability of the BlackBerry Tablet OS (powered by QNX) and its 1GHz dual-core processor and 1 GB of RAM, the PlayBook will offer a full web experience, with faster page rendering, and the ability to run multiple applications simultaneously for a true multitasking experience.

For all the latest BlackBerry PlayBook news, stay tuned to our Inside BlackBerry Blog (http://bbry.lv/cWR2rg).

Cheers,
Douglas, Blog Manager, RIM Social Media Team

Posted by: dsoltys | March 4, 2011 9:44 PM | Report abuse

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