You most probably worked out that 2011 would be the year of the tablet before the phrase was used by the media, and Apple, rarely ones to hide their light under a bushel, decided to modify it slightly for the launch of their second-gen tablet week, saying that 2011 was going to be the year of the iPad 2.
For its competitors, this could either be a rallying call or the death knell for their own similar projects, but what is it they’ve got to be scared about? Is the iPad 2 really such a giant leap forward when compared to the original iPad? If you’re wondering the same thing, or just want to have the facts at your fingertips, we’re going to have a close look at both and compare the two.
The fact is this: pop the pair down on a table next to each other and at first glance, only experts could tell them apart. This isn’t a fault with the product or lack of imagination, it’s just tablets are pre-destined to look very, very similar to each other! However, if you spend a few moments looking at them, the key differences will soon become obvious.
First of all, the iPad 2 looks almost flat in comparison to the iPad, and that’s thanks to the astonishing 8.8mm thick chassis. The iPad was hardly a bloater at 13mm, but the slimness is emphasized by the tapered bezel of the iPad 2, making the rear of the tablet just fade away from the edges (the iPad has that pronounced aluminium edging). Overall the iPad 2 is around 5mm smaller all round too. Of course, if you’re looking at one white and one black tablet, the game of which is which would have finished a while ago!
At the opposite end of the frame to the Home button sits a camera lens, which Apple say provides VGA-quality video-calls in conjunction with its new FaceTime app for the iPad. A second lens sits in the top left on the rear and offers 720p video-recording, and while they both shoot still images, the less said about the megapixel count the better. Although Apple hasn’t confirmed any specs just yet, the cameras could rate at less than 1 megapixel if speculation is to be believed. The other major change on the back is the redesigned speaker grill.
So, they look a little bit different, but not very much. How about on the inside? Strip the iPad 2 down and you’ll find the biggest difference between the two; the new dual-core A5 1Ghz processor. While the speed is the same, the dual-core SoC should make a big difference when it comes to speed; multi-tasking ability and gaming, in fact, Apple say the chip has nine-times the graphical speed of the first. It’s not absolutely confirmed, but there is a strong chance the iPad 2 has 512MB RAM, double the amount of the iPad.
Dig about a bit more and you’ll come across the gyroscope, and of course you’ll find the same compass, accelerometer and either a Wi-Fi receiver on its own or accompanied by a 3G radio. Early reports say the iPad 2 will be unlocked, ready for use on any network offering a micro-SIM and an iPad plan. The battery is essentially the same too, and will return the same 10-hour usage or a month’s standby. Finally, the iPad 2′s screen is exactly the same as the iPad’s, so it’s 9.7″ with a 1024 x 768 resolution.
To recap, the processor and RAM have changed, it has been given a redesign and a pair of camera lenses, but that’s about all. So, sensible changes, but nothing earth-shattering, however, Apple played their trump card by not changing the price and ensuring the iPad 2 would be on sale before the end of March. And it’s those two points that have worried the competition.
The temptation to buy the latest gadget is always strong and perhaps surprisingly for an Apple product, the iPad 2 is relatively well-priced. However if you’re desperate for an iPad but can’t quite justify the full-priced iPad 2, there are plenty of opportunities to grab reduced price original iPads from Apple or from private sellers as they prepare to upgrade. After all, it’s still perfectly usable, has a wealth of apps already available for it, and iOS 4.3 will ensure it operates in the same way as the iPad 2 anyway.
Even before it was launched, after disregarding the more fantastic spec rumours, the iPad 2 looked like an evolution of the original and now we’ve seen the real thing, that turns out to be exactly the case. Not that it matters though, as the Apple iPad 2 still remains the tablet to beat this year. Will you be getting one?