The biggest surprise that came from today’s special media briefing Apple held wasn’t so much the iPad 2 information, or the fact that iOS 4.3 is getting released next week, but rather that Steve Jobs gave the speech. That floored just about everyone, including Wall street.
The new iPad is 33% thinner than the original model, and 15% lighter. It retains the same 9.7” screen and features a dual-core processor, Apple’s A5 CPU. The iPad 2 also features two cameras, a front-facing VGA camera for FaceTime and the just revealed Photo Booth. It also features a rear-facing camera that captures 720p HD video. There will be two models available at launch, both black and white, with the exact same configurations as the original model (WiFi models available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB variations. 3G models in the same configurations). One of the frequently asked questions we get around here is about the battery life, which is exactly the same as the original model, 10 hours of active use and a month in standby mode.
Steve Jobs had the following to say about the iPad 2 during today’s conference.
With more than 15 million iPads sold, iPad has defined an entirely new category of mobile devices. While others have been scrambling to copy the first generation iPad, we’re launching iPad 2, which moves the bar far ahead of the competition and will likely cause them to go back to the drawing boards yet again.
FaceTime allows iPad users to connect with the tens of millions of active users on their iPhones, iPod Touches and Macs. Photo Booth allows users to apply fun effects to their pictures in real-time. Anyone with a Mac knows how much fun this app is, and it comes included on the new iPad.
Apple also announced two new apps for the iPad 2, iMovie and Garageband. iMovie works exactly as its iPhone 4 counterpart does. You can edit films on the go, and upload them to your favourite movie sites like YouTube. Garageband is the one that looks extremely impressed. It includes the full feature set you’ve come to expect from Garageband, including the ability to create songs from pre-installed loops, play your own music via the touch screen and so much more. Both apps cost $4.99 and will be available when the iPad 2 hit retailers on March 11th. The suggested retail price is identical to that of the original model, which starts at $499.99 and ramps up to $829.99 for the 64GB 3G model.
As someone who currently owns a launch iPad I’ll admit this new one sounds promising. Apple even has plans to release a special peripheral that allows you to connect an HDMI cable to the iPad for video out. That’s good news for all those that actually use the 720p recorder. I’m still disappointed that Thunderbolt wasn’t included. Thunderbolt is a new I/O interface that’s double as fast as USB 3.0. Heck, they could have at least added USB 3.0, no? USB 2.0? I know they’re worried about piracy, but they really are limiting themselves. That and the lack of a proper file manager prevent me from using my iPad as a full PC replacement. As such I continue to need a desktop computer, but I will admit that my laptop time has diminished greatly since I received my iPad. For casual internet browsing it remains extremely useful. If only Flash was available on it and better use of Java…but I digress.
What do you all think of this news? Running out on March 11th to pick one up?