Apple iPad 2 Announcement is Black and White

Earlier today we told you there was still time to post your iPad 1 up on eBay or Craigslist before it goes out of style. Hopefully you took our advice, because if you didn't, it might be too late. During a press event in San Francisco today, Apple officially launched the iPad 2, so now the mainstream is up to speed on what technophiles had known for a while was coming. So what did we learn?

Mainly what we learned is that it's incredibly difficult to keep a secret in this day and age of the Internet. Most of what the iPad 2 brings to the table had already been leaked to the Web days, weeks, and even months before today. Let's take a quick and dirty look at the feature-set:
  • The iPad 2 is 33 percent thinner than the original at just 8.8mm
  • The iPad 2 is up to 15 percent lighter than the original
  • Uses a dual-core A5 processor that's twice as fast as before
  • Graphics performance is 9x better than before
  • Built-in gyro for advanced gaming
  • Screen size and resolution are both the same (9.7 inches, 1024x768)
  • Front-facing camera with FaceTime support
  • Rear-facing camera with 720p HD recording
  • Same 10-hour battery life claim as with the original iPad
In other words, the iPad 2 is thinner, lighter, faster, and better equipped than before, just as we've been hearing leading up to the official launch. Curiously missing is any mention of RAM, which leads us to believe it won't ship with 1GB. There's also no USB port or microSD card slot, and of course no support for Adobe Flash. There is, however, the option of an HDMI mirrored video out cable that will provide up to 1080p output to your swank HDTV.

And what of the recent rumor that Apple would ship the iPad 2 in both black and white? It's true! Whatever has prevented Apple from shipping a white iPhone 4 apparently hasn't stopped the mobile device maker from coming out with a white iPad 2, which will cost the same as the black version (we'll get to pricing info in a minute).

Launching with the iPad is a new Smart Cover that serves double-duty as a folding stand. Unlike the original, however, this one magnetically attaches to magnets built into the iPad 2's bezel.  In addition, the new Smart Cover "automatically wakes the iPad 2 when it's opened and puts it to sleep when it's closed." Pretty rad.

On the operating system front, Apple will release iOS 4.3 with the iPad 2. The OS boasts a faster browser, iTunes Home Sharing, enhancements to AirPlay, the choice to use the iPad switch to lock the screen in portrait/landscape mode or mute the audio, and Personal Hotspot to share an iPhone 4 cellular data connection over Wi-Fi.

All in all, it's a decent, if not spectacular upgrade to the original iPad. It's faster, but may not have more RAM. It will have cameras, but limited to 720p recording. Graphics performance is improved, but the display panel remains the same. Is it worth upgrading your original iPad? Depends on how much those added features mean to you.

One thing you won't have to decide is whether or not the new features justify a pricing premium, because the iPad 2's pricing structure is exactly the same as the iPad 1. That means you can pick up an entry-level iPad 2 16GB Wi-Fi for $499. As for availability, the iPad 2 will go on sale on March 11th, which is next Friday. If you are planning to sell your iPad 1, that gives you a little over a week to unload it before prices really take a nosedive in the used market, if not sooner.