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Apple iPad 2The iPad 2 refines an already excellent product. Its user-friendly interface, vast app catalog, and marathon battery life bolster Apple's claim to being the king of tablets.
Hey, I'm Donald Bell and today I'm giving you a first look at the new Apple iPad 2, a CNET Editor's Choice. This is the second generation of Apple's insanely successful tablet computer. You can get it in either black or white, with prices starting at $499 for 16 gigabytes, going up to 32 gigs and 64 gigabytes. You can also get it with 3G wireless from either AT&T or Verizon, but you'll pay an extra $130 at each capacity. This one here is from AT&T. The black strip up here on the back is the giveaway that it's a 3G model. Now, everything that was great about the original iPad has made its way over to the new version. All of the buttons and the ports are right where you left them and the screen size and menu navigation are all the same. If you know your way around the original iPad or the iPhone or an iPod Touch, there's really zero learning curve here with the new version. So what's new? Well, you've got two new cameras now, one up front and one in the back. You can use them with the new FaceTime video calling app or the PhotoBooth app that comes preinstalled on the iPad 2. The camera quality isn't great but you can use them to shoot both photos or video and it's a feature that a lot of you have been asking for. What impressed me more are the improvements inside. Apple is now using their dual-core A5 processor which delivers faster performance in general and promises 9 times of graphic performance for games. But my favorite improvement, by far, and the one that is a real knock to the competition, is how thin Apple has been able to make this. They cut the thickness by a third. Here it is next to the original iPad. Here it is next to the new Motorola Xoom tablet and it's even thinner than the iPhone 4. For a product that spends a lot of its time in your hands, the thinner, lighter design is really pretty meaningful, and like a lot of Apple products, after you pick it up, the other stuff just feels kinda cheap. In spite of shrinking it down and beefing up the processor, Apple is still claiming 10 hours of battery life which is another advantage the competition has a hard time matching. That said, tablets like the Xoom here are promising features like 4G network compatibility and Adobe Flash compatibility which you're not gonna find on the iPad and, for some of you, might be worth the hit to battery life. For me, the reason I keep coming back to the iPad is the apps. There's really no beating the selection and the quality of the stuff you can download here. At launch, there are over 65,000 apps designed specifically for the large screen of the iPad. No one else has that and it's a key part of what keeps the iPad fresh and fun. So that's the Apple iPad 2. It's thinner, lighter, faster, there's more carriers, more colors, more cameras, and more apps than you'll ever need. If you're looking for the best all-around tablet, this is the one. For CNET.com, I'm Donald Bell.