The magic is back for a second act, baby, and it doesn't play for the Lakers (that's the other Magic). The magic we're talking about plays for team Apple, and while the competition tries to come up with a so-called "iPad killer," Apple may have beat them to the punch. How's that for irony? We're of course referring to the iPad 2, Apple's second tablet in as many years, and the first successor to the slate that started it all. Don't confuse that to mean Apple invented the tablet, which it didn't, but the Cupertino outfit was the first to figure out how to market and sell such a device to the mainstream, almost single-handedly reviving a mobile concept that many didn't think could co-exist with laptops and netbooks.
With the iPad 2, Apple is looking to extend its lead over the competition, which at this point is pretty significant, and make sure it isn't passed up by some spunky newcomer to the tablet space. We've heard promise after promise of upcoming tablets that were supposed to unseat the iPad, and we're finally starting to see some real worthwhile alternatives, such as Motorola's Xoom. After witnessing Android's success in the smartphone sector, and now seeing Google ship Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), Apple surmised it better stay on top of its game if it's to stay on top of the tablet market, and that's really what the iPad 2 is all about. The iPad 2 represents a collection of low to mid-level upgrades, some of which should really have been included on the iPad 1, but hey, they're here now. The question is, will these upgrades be enough to keep Apple in the forefront of the amazing tablet race?
We'll get to that, but first, let's take a quick tour of the device and then we'll dive into performance metrics and user experience.
Apple iPad 2 Specifications
Apple iOS 4.3
1GHz Dual-Core A5 Processor
PowerVR SGX543MP2 Dual-Core Graphics Chip
512MB of RAM
Optional 3G Radio (GSM and CDMA)
Front and Rear Facing Cameras
Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
9.7-Inch 1024x768 LED Display (IPS)
Non-Replaceable 25W-hour Lithium-Polymer Battery
Up to 10 (Surfing the Web on Wi-Fi, Watching Video, or Listening to Music)
Charging via Power Adapter or USB to Computer System
Just about everything you see above is a specification or upgrade you probably read about weeks or months ahead of the iPad 2's official launch. Rumors of the iPad 2 hit the web almost as soon as Apple's first generation tablet landed in stores, part of which can be attributed to Apple's unofficial planned obsolescence model. For example, how could Apple neglect to include a camera on the iPad 1? Some say the answer is so iPad owners would have a reason to upgrade to the iPad 2, and the fact that both front and rear-facing cameras are now included would seem to support that notion.
Cameras aren't the only upgrades. The iPad 2 comes out swinging with a dual-core 1GHz A5 processor, replacing the single-core chip in the iPad 1. There's also 512MB of RAM, up from 256MB, though only half of the 1GB offered with the Xoom. Apple claims the iPad 2 is twice as fast as its predecessor, while offering up to 9x better graphics performance. It's also both slimmer (by 33 percent) and lighter (by up to 15 percent), and according to Apple, none of these upgrades affect battery life. Is this all too good to be true, or is this a case of truly good engineering?