Apple’s iPad 2 event

by Dave Loft

Nothing surprising with the release of the iPad 2 as far as specs are concerned. They are just as I predicted at the beginning of January in my Tech Predictions for 2011. It has a A5 Dual Core with an improved GPU, front and rear cameras, it’s slimmer and lighter. The front facing camera is VGA and rear camera shoots 720P video, surprisingly no 1080p. The display is the same size, same resolution and same old school 4:3 aspect ratio. No mention of RAM, but I would be very surprised if it hasn’t been upgraded from the original iPad’s 256MB. Storage and pricing stays exactly the same as the previous iPad.

The only thing surprising is how quickly it will be available, March 11th in the US and March 25th in Canada and elsewhere. Before todays announcement there were plenty of reports and rumors of supply constraints and a possible delay in the release of the iPad 2.

Apple demonstrated a couple new apps for the iPad, Garage Band and iMovie. Each of which will cost $5 and show Apple wants people to view the iPad as more than a content consumption device. The iPad 2 will come with iOS 4.3, a slight refresh of iOS 4 to support the new capabilities of the iPad 2. Unfortunately no iOS 5, no widgets, no improvement to notifications and no additional multi-touch gestures.

As it is, the out of box experience on a Honeycomb Android tablet is far better. First you don’t need to plug it into a real computer and sync it to iTunes before you can use it. Second the OS feels more full featured with desktop like elements. Which is ultimately the way tablets will be heading, with or without the iPad.

The big differentiation for Apple is their app ecosystem, I have mentioned this before in my State of the Tablet article from last week. Apple currently has 65,000 tablet optimized apps compared to Google’s just launched last week Honeycomb OS which has less than 100 tablet optimized apps. Steve Jobs poked fun at the lack of competition a few times during the press event and called all of them imitators. But I do remember Google and Motorola releasing a device last week with a dual core CPU, dual cameras and built it movie editing software. So I could see them saying the same thing.

If your looking for the best option right now and not worried about where things are going the iPad currently offers the most complete package. But looking forward Android will likely be a very strong competitor and like the phone, will most likely capture a majority in the tablet category. HP, RIM and Microsoft certainly have their work cut out for them as Apple is now on version 2 and they have yet to release version 1.

As for me, I’m still on a wait and see when it comes to tablets and I’m looking forward to improved pricing in the tablet space due to all the competition hitting the market this year. Android will have quad core tablets by the fall of 2011. So if your looking for a great deal, a first gen Honeycomb tablet with a dual core CPU should be significantly cheaper by then. In 2010 smartphones took over every tech sites focus and 2011 looks to be the year of the tablet.

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