March 02, 2011, 2:22 PM —
At a special event in San Francisco Wednesday, Apple unveiled the iPad 2, the follow-up to the original iPad it released last April. The iPad 2 features an all-new design along with new features including built-in cameras and a new gyroscope.
At the heart of the iPad 2 is a 1.2GHz dual-core Apple A5 processor, a boost over the 1GHz A4 in the first iPad. Apple says the A5 is two-times faster than the previous processor, and graphics performance is nine times faster. "The graphics on this thing are wonderful," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who made a surprise appearance at the Wednesday event despite being on medical leave.
The A5 also has a similar low-power consumption rating as the A4.
The iPad 2 features two built-in cameras, for use with FaceTime video chat and other apps.
Overall, the iPad 2 is thinner and lighter than its predecessor, weighing 1.3 pounds and measuring 0.35 inches thick. The original iPad was 1.5 pounds (1.6 pounds for the 3G iPad) and 0.5 inches thick. The iPad 2 is actually thinner than the iPhone 4, which is 0.37 inches thick.
Other new features include a gyroscope, 10 hours of battery life, and a choice between a black or white iPad.
Apple offers six models of the iPad 2. There are three Wi-Fi only models: a $499 version with 16GB of flash storage; a $599 model with 32GB of flash storage; and a $699 model with 64GB of flash storage.
Apple will offer three 3G-equipped models: a $629 version with 16GB of flash storage; a $729 model with 32GB of flash storage; and a $829 model with 64GB of flash storage. Apple said that the 3G iPad will work with AT&T or Verizon.
Apple says the iPad 2 will be available on March 11 through the online and retail Apple Stores.
At the event, Jobs said that Apple sold nearly 15 million iPads during a nine-month period in 2010. According to Apple, the iPad has more than a 90 percent share of the tablet market.
Jobs acknowledge the role of the retail Apple Stores as a key to the success of the iPad. The stores' built-in to support the iPad, was key to educating customers and to handle customer questions. "Without these stores, I don't think we would have been successful either," Jobs said.
We'll have more details on the iPad 2 as they become available Wednesday.