Apple's original iPad virtually created the market for business and consumer tablets, and the iPad 2 aims to expand the company's dominance in the arena. Smaller and lighter, the iPad 2 comes with a new dual-core processor, longer battery life and twin cameras. The new device is a definite upgrade, but still suffers from a locked-in ecosystem and offers no compelling reason to upgrade.
Superb battery life, very easy to use, slim and lightweight
Apple-only applications, limited connectivity, sub-standard cameras, no removable storage
24.1 x 18.6 x 1.3cm, 0.6kg, Apple 1GHz A5 processor, 9.7in 1,024 x 768 LED backlit screen, 16GB/32/64GB Flash storage, 802.11b/g/n, optional 3G/CDMA connectivity, accelerometer, gyroscope, light sensor, 3.5mm headphone jack.
Apple's latest iPad will do nothing to harm the company's position in the market, thanks to some welcome enhancements as well as a new colour scheme. Apple enthusiasts are agog with the new platform, which is selling out in shops across the US and will likely do the same in the UK when it launches later this month.
Straight out of the box, the iPad 2 looks the same as its predecessor, but there are in fact some subtle differences. The 9.7in LED screen is the same size and resolution as the original iPad, but subsequent tear downs have shown it to be not quite an exact copy of the original.
Inside the iPad 2 is Apple's A5 dual-core processor, which the company says will be twice as fast as the A4 in the original iPad, once software has been rewritten for the new architecture. Even with current software however, there is a significant speed bump for general operations and the graphics feel much smoother, with none of the lag in opening and using applications that iPad users are used to.
At 24.1 x 18.6 x 0.86cm the iPad 2 is slightly smaller and around a third slimmer than the iPad, and this is something that regular users of the original notice straight away.
Battery life on the Wi-Fi unit is superb. In tests the unit ran from full charge to empty in just under nine hours of heavy use and the company claims the iPad 2 can remain in standby for nearly a month. A large part of this is down to new, thinner battery packs built into the device but software optimisation plays a role. The battery life of the iPad 2 is better than any other tablet on the market today.
The most noticeable visible addition to the unit is the dual camera system. There is a forward facing VGA camera and a rearward unit capable of 720p video. Both cameras are sub-standard. The lack of a flash on the rearward camera limits use and the output is blocky and dark. The forward-facing camera is only of use for videoconferencing and even then in tests produced a very poor image.
Apple has kept its minimalist approach to connectivity. The device synchronises and charges through Apple's custom socket and there are no HDMI or USB ports, nor any breaks in the shell for removable storage.
The tablet's tiny speaker, on the right hand rear of the unit, is, however, surprisingly good, and now that the iOS operating system can handle multitasking the ability to listen to music or podcasts while browsing is nice.
Elsewhere, the unit has a hardware volume control and mute button, an audio jack and an on/off button, as well as the traditional home screen button on the front of the unit. The iPad 2 is also the first tablet from Apple available in white as well as black.