The Apple iPad 2 is here, and this is your chance to take a look at it in person. The second Apple tablet packs two cameras and dual-core computing power in a wafer-thin frame, so let us take you on a guided tour. Click through our gallery for a first look at the iPad 2, including a side-by-side comparison with the original iPad.
The new iPad 2 was unveiled by Apple boss Steve Jobs in front of a packed house in San Francisco and London, where CNET UK got our hands on the new tablet. At first glance, you'd be hard-pressed to to tell the difference -- until you pick it up, when it's immediately clear that it's significantly thinner. On closer inspection, new details begin to reveal themselves.
Has tech camera
First of all, there's a camera in the front, facing towards you as you hold it. The camera means you'll now be able to make FaceTime video calls to friends with an iPhone 4, iPod touch, Mac computer or another new iPad.
There's also a rear-facing camera for taking proper pictures, if you don't mind holding 10 inches of tablet in front of your face. It shoots 720p high-definition video. Apple pointedly refuses to discuss the camera's resolution in megapixel terms because 720p equates to a very low megapixel count. The camera is essentially the same as the camera in the iPod touch, which is a bit of a disappointment. Another letdown is that the screen is the same 1,024x768-pixel screen as the previous model, rather than the eye-scorchingly detailed retina display of the iPhone 4.
The cameras bring with them Photo Booth and iMovie software, complete with kerrazy photo effects, AirPlay streaming and multi-track audio recording, including voiceover recording. One warm touch is iMovie's kitsch home screen, designed to look like an old-timey movie theatre.
Even cooler is GarageBand, with built-in instruments you can play by tapping on the screen. You can even plug your own instruments into the iPad -- we can't decide if that's the most rock'n'roll or the least rock'n'roll thing in the world. Either way, what is very cool is that the iPad's accelerometer detects how hard you're hitting the onscreen instruments, so you get more realistic sounds.
Thinner than the iPhone
The iPad 2 is 33 per cent thinner than the original. In fact, at 8.8mm it's even thinner than the iPhone 4. The design no longer has the flat bit around the rim, instead tapering all the way to the edge. It feels seriously light, without the original's bulgy feel at the back when you prop it on its side.
The slider switch on the side can be set to lock the orientation, so the screen doesn't switch between landscape and portrait when you lie down, or to set the iPad to silent.
Accessory to the crime
The iPad now does HDMI out, thanks to an adaptor that plugs into the bottom of the iPad and delivers 1080p video to a high-definition TV. The adaptor includes an HDMI slot and a USB slot in one mini-cable doohickey, so you can charge the iPad at the same time as watching hi-def video on a hi-def telly.
Possibly the most fun thing unveiled is the new smart cover. It's a flap that magnetically attaches itself to the side of the iPad -- perhaps inspired by the MacBook's MagSafe magnetic power connection -- covering the screen with a microfibre cover. Opening and closing the cover wakes the iPad or puts it into standby again. The flap then folds back behind the tablet to prop it up, either at a low angle for typing or propped straight up for watching video.
There are five day-glo polyurethane covers, and five leather versions in more muted colours. The cover is only a frippery, we know, but there's a certain delight in the magnetic attachment -- it's such an Apple detail.
The iPad 2 arrives in the UK on 25 March. What do you think? Has the iPad 2 seduced you, or is it just too little to take on the army of Android Honeycomb tablets heading our way? Stick your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook wall.
The iPad 2 in white.
And the traditional black.
The aluminium back of the iPad 2.
This is the 64GB model.
The iPad 2 is shockingly thin.
The new speaker at the bottom.
The power switch on the left and 3.5mm headphone socket on the right.
The 720p camera on the back, with the volume controls and customisable lock switch on the side.
Meet the magnetic Smart Cover.
It automatically aligns itself as it grabs the side of the iPad 2.
The Smart Cover props the tablet up for typing.
Here's the iPad 2 on top of the original iPad.
Apple's tablets side-by-side. The iPad 2 is 33 per cent thinner.
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