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TECHNOLOGY iPad 2 – What’s new?

Staying In
Facetime on the iPad

iPad 2 – what’s new?

Staying In
Fergus Kelly

Amidst its usual fanfare, and with the triumphant (though possibly last) return from medical leave for master-showman Steve Jobs, Apple launched its latest product, iPad 2, last Wednesday. It will be available in Ireland from March 25 but pricing is yet to be confirmed.
Speculation grew in anticipation of the new version of last year’s hottest gadget. Apple says it sold 15 million of them, more than all other tablets ever sold combined.
All the new features of the iPad 2 were correctly predicted. Everyone in my social network thought that the release would be but a bump, a slight upgrade to keep the competition down, followed by a big upgrade in September.
We were right about the bump.
The biggest change is the design itself. iPad 2 is much thinner than the previous model and is actually thinner than an iPhone. It’s also much lighter at only 1.3 pounds, and it will be available in white as well as black.
The processor has been upgraded to a dual-core A5, which Apple says makes it twice as fast. Graphics performance has also been greatly improved. Significantly, Apple claims that these upgrades do not affect battery life.
The no-brainer addition of two cameras, one on the front and one on the back, just like the iPhone, was confirmed, as was the inclusion of FaceTime, Apple’s video-chat software (pictured).
Apple also added accessories to its range. The HDMI Video Out dongle allows streaming to your TV at 1080p widescreen, and the Smart Cover protects the screen, attaching magnetically.
What may be more significant is the upgrade of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS. On the back of this will come the release of two pieces of software. iMovie, Apple’s easy-to-use movie editor will make its iPad debut and boasts direct uploading of completed videos to YouTube. Apple’s GarageBand music software will also come to the device.
Expect lots of teenagers to make lots of crap tunes and movies.
What it left out could be a deal-breaker for many. The rumoured USB port and SD slot didn’t materialise, and the screen has not been upgraded as many had hoped.

The judgement
So, now the tricky bit: What do I think? I don’t think it really is iPad 2.
It’s more like iPad 1.5. The new processor will almost certainly be included in the new iPhone (probably available in Ireland in August), and the gap between iPad 1 and iPad 2 is not huge.
Apple have already reduced the price of the first-generation model to clear their inventory.
If you’re looking for an iPad, and taking everything into account, I’d probably go with iPad 1.
And what about the September upgrade? Jobs repeatedly said: “We think 2011 is clearly the year of the iPad 2”.
Looks like they’re keeping the iPad 3 for 2012, but don’t be surprised if this turns out to be a red herring. And don’t blame me.

Fergus Kelly is an Apple fanboy of 20 years standing. He blogs at ferguskelly.net.