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iPad 2

Do you want a new tablet? 

The iPad 2 is both all about -- and not about -- the hardware. From an industrial design standpoint, the iPad 2 just seriously raised the bar on sleek, sexy computer hardware. If you're an owner of the original model, you know it was no slouch in the design department, but its latest iteration takes it to a whole other place. 


The first thing you'll probably notice about the iPad 2 is that it's thin -- unbelievably thin. At its thickest point, the tablet is just 0.34-inches (compared with the first iPad's half an inch of girth). The device is slightly shorter than the previous model (at 9.5-inches tall), but also slightly less wide (just 7.3-inches versus the iPad's 7.47-inches). 

It looks and feels amazingly sleek when you hold it. As Steve Jobs pointed out at the launch event, the device is thinner than the astoundingly thin iPhone 4 -- quite a feat considering what's packed inside the slate. Of course, it's still not exactly light, weighing in at 1.33 pounds (or 1.34 / 1.35 for the 3G models), just a hair under the original's one and a half pounds.


The iPad 2 has arrived, and with it, the tablet computer that has redefined the genre is getting a very interesting update. Thinner design, dual-cameras, updated OS, new accessories… with the same pricing structure. For some, it is the update they’ve been waiting for: the iPad platform won’t change for the next year (is it really so?). For others, the thinner design and the video chat capabilities make it a must-have device. Some first-gen iPad might even want to upgrade, eBay showed signs of iPad flooding last week. The question is: is iPad 2 as good as it seems? Is it really for you? And if you already own one, should you upgrade?

With the iPad's second go-around, Apple sticks to its successful formula. The iPad 2 is thinner, faster, and includes two cameras. Otherwise, the iPad stays the same: size, price, capacity, and features all carry over.


As with the previous version, the front of the device is all screen, save for a bezel (which appears slightly less broad than the one on the first model), and a home button at the bottom of the display. The iPad 2 does add a camera opposite from that button at the top of the device, but the small dot is barely noticeable. Around back there's the familiar, smooth aluminum of the previous version (it does feel slightly smoother here), a small, dotted speaker grid on the lower left, a camera on the upper left, and depending on what model you get, the 3G antenna along the top back.


 The volume buttons and mute / rotate switch sit on the back left side of the device, while on the right you'll find the Micro SIM slot (on 3G versions). A standard 30-pin dock connector is along the bottom, while the top reveals a power / sleep button on the upper right side, and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the left. All pretty standard business for an iPad, but smartly put together on this tiny frame.

And while the iPad 2 isn’t actually all that much lighter than the iPad 1 (about 700g versus 600g — depending on if you get the 3G or WiFi version, obviously), the change in thickness almost tricks you into thinking it is significantly lighter.


Overall, the device has a much more fluid design. Apple notes that the body now consists of two parts instead of the three that made up the iPad 1. This makes it feel even more solid, and even more like a natural object instead of a machine.


The tapered edges of the iPad 2 feel better in your hands. And those edges also make the buttons on the side and top more pronounced (and a bit easier to use). Of course, the tapered bottom also makes the dock connector a bit harder to use, but that’s a minor nit.

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