Apple finally announced their next generation iPad, dubbed iPad 2. The hardware is pretty impressive, actually. There were many hardware improvements, and two of them (video cameras and more RAM) I felt should have been on the first generation iPad.
Here's a quick run-down of what's new with hardware:
- Thinner (8.8 mm vs 13.4 mm) - even thinner than the iPhone 4 (9.3 mm)
- Lighter (1.3 lbs vs 1.5 lbs)
- A5 dual core CPU
- 512 MB RAM (vs 256 MB)
- 9x faster GPU
- Front and back cameras (rear can do 720p video)
- HDMI Out (with accessory dongle)
- Magnets for flap cover (the cover is an accessory)
- Proximity sensor (to put the iPad to sleep when covered, and wake when uncovered)
The fact that it has more power, RAM, 2 cameras, and a gyroscope, and still be thinner and lighter than it's predecessor is amazing. To do all this and still have the same 10 hour battery life isn't really magic, but some kind of evil voodoo.
Despite all this, the user experience between the first gen iPad and this one isn't radically different. This is because the new iOS 4.3 that will be launching with the new tablet is more or less the same as what we have now. With the new cameras, they now include FaceTime HD and Photo Booth, which isn't all that amazing. In fact, they were expected.
Here's a quick run-down of the new features of iOS 4.3:
- Personal Hotspot (iPhone 4 only)
- Home Sharing (stream iTunes content from Mac/PC to iDevice)
- Selectable iPad Switch (can be changed to mute or lock orientation)
- Improved AirPlay (allows 3rd party apps to stream video and audio)
- Improved Safari performance
There is no major design change in the OS, which is expected, but disapointing. With Android Honeycomb giving us a more tablet-oriented user interface, the current iOS GUI is starting to seem limited for the larger screen. Also, with dual-cores and more memory, one would expect Apple to finally allow true multitasking.
All in all, I like the new design. The cover is too expensive at $39 (plastic) and $69 (leather), but I can imagine aftermarket covers for less and still take advantage of the magnetic snap-on area that's built into every iPad 2. Cameras were expected in the first gen iPad, so I am glad they are here now, but since Apple did not give out any specs for still photos, I am expecting the cameras to be like on the iPod Touch (can only do 1280x720 resolution photos). I like that it's finally lighter (the first one was too heavy for single hand use), but since it's only 0.2 lbs lighter, we'll have to see if it makes a difference.
Apple finally put out their March 2nd keynote video on their site, so take a look here! You may need to right-click and save-as on the link if you don't already have QuickTime installed.