Preview: Apple’s Second-Generation iPad 2

The white version of the Apple iPad 2. Photo © Apple

The Full iPad 2 Review is now up. Otherwise, just scroll down below for a quick preview of the iPad 2's specs and pros and cons.

NOTE: For a comparison between its other tablet rivals such as the Motorola Xoom, BlackBerry PlayBook and HP TouchPad, make sure to check out our Tablet Feature Comparison Chart. For pictures of the iPad 2, drop by our Apple iPad Image Gallery.

Hello, beloved Portable Electronics site readers (uh-oh, he just pulled the "beloved" card. Something must be up).

With a brand-spanking new iPad 2 now en route to yours truly, it's only a matter of time before I post my full review.

"Wait, Jason. Did you just say, en route? Looks like somebody decided not to line up at an Apple store to get an iPad 2 as early as possible to review for his 'beloved' readers!"

Let's just say I had to work March 11 and I didn't want to risk being the last sap in line at the local Apple store who finds out the iPads got sold out … and then finds out that they're sold out online because he wasted time lining up. Better safe than sorry, I say. (And if I find out the store didn't run out, well, I'll be very, very iMad 2. On the plus side, I was able to get the thing engraved. I was seriously considering the words, "No, I did NOT line up for this iPad.")

Ah, the life of a peon in the bottom rung of Apple's media list.

Anywho, I also want to make sure I put the thing through its paces before my full review so I don't do a half-baked rush job on it. As a peace offering, here's a quick peek at the more noteworthy additions and omissions for the device:

  • Dual-cores: I don't know why but hearing that an "Apple" device has dual "cores" makes me giggle for some reason. Yes, I am that easily amused. Having a 1GHz dual-core processor means the iPad 2 is faster than its single-core predecessor. At the same time, word from folks who have tried the device so far is that Apple also managed to keep the iPad's good, old 10-hour battery life despite the extra processing horsepower. To quote Borat, that's "a-very nice."
  • Dual Cameras: Yes, the iPad 2 can now be a vehicle for boneheaded decisions that could land you and others in documented trouble for the whole Interwebs to see in glorious 720p. Normal people with common sense, however, will find the ability to do both video chat and video recording to be quite useful.
  • GarageBand and iMovie Capability: Thanks to iOS tweaks and that new dual-core processor, you can now easily edit your horrible video and create horrible music with your iPad 2. Oh wait, I just assumed everyone had my horrible skills. I'm sure your video and music creation will be just fantastic! (And for those talented folks who do end up making good videos and music with their iPad 2, well, I hate your guts!) You gotta pay for these two apps by the way.
  • Still No Flash: Now let's start addressing some of the cons — and the inability to directly play Flash continues to be a big one. Regardless whether you believe HTML 5 is the future, Flash is still a big part of the present, so it's a bummer that it's not supported. This is made even sadder by the fact that the iPad 2 certainly has the specs to do so.
  • Still No MicroSD slot: A MicroSD memory card slot is another simple feature that Apple decided to not include in the iPad 2. Rivals like the Motorola Xoom have one. Even my little MP3 player has a MicroSD slot as well. I don't know about you but an extra $100 and $200 sounds like a lot for an extra 16GB and 48GB of internal memory respectively for the iPad 2's 32GB and 64GB versions.
  • Still No Universal Output: Some of the iPad 2's rivals offer a standard micro-HDMI connector so you can use a standard micro-HDMI cable to output video to your HDTV. iPad 2 owners, though, have to buy adapter cables from Apple to do so.

Here are the quick specs on the iPad 2:

  • Price: Wi-Fi-only models are $499-$699; Wi-Fi+3G models are $629-$829
  • Colors: Black and white
  • Dimensions: 9.5 inches by 7.31 inches by 0.34 inches
  • Weight: 1.33 pounds
  • Processor: 1 GHz Apple A5 custom dual-core processor
  • Storage: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; 3G HSDPA/HSUPA (AT&T) and CDMA (Verizon) optional
  • Display: 9.7-inch LED-backlit touch screen with multitouch and IPS
  • Cameras: Back camera with up to 720p 30-frames-per-second video recording and 5x digital zoom for still photos; front camera for VGA video recording up to 30 frames per second and VGA-quality still camera; capable of photo and video tagging over Wi-Fi
  • Battery life: Up to 10 hours of Web surfing, video and music use
  • Inputs and outputs: 30-pin dock connector, 3.5mm headphone jack and microphone; Wi-Fi+3G model comes with Micro-SIM card tray
  • Sensors: Three-axis gyro, ambient light sensor, and accelerometer
  • Audio formats: Take a deep breath... HE-AAC (V1 and V2), AAC (8 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (8 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
  • Video: Up to 1080p output with optional Apple cables. Formats supported include H.264, MPEG-4 AND M-JPEG

For more about the iPad, check out our Apple iPad Central page.