iPad, Take 2

Remember when the iPad was announced last year? There was a ton of hype and speculation in the lead-up to the launch about all the amazing features it was going to have. And then Apple announced it and it was essentially a big iPod Touch, and many tech commentators declared it a disappointing failure. And then it was launched and became the fastest-selling piece of technology ever made.

We suspect history might be about to repeat itself. Apple launched the iPad 2 tonight and it was, on the surface of it, disappointing. Many of the rumoured improvements weren't there - no double-resolution 'retina display' screen; no SD card slot; no connector for the new 'Thunderbolt' cable introduced to the MacBook last week. But we've got a feeling the new iPad is going to sell like absolute hot-cakes, just like the old one did.

In fairness, despite the superficial similarities, quite a lot has changed. The new iPad is a good deal thinner, with tapered sides that resemble the latest iPod Touch more than the iPhone 4. So it's not completely ridiculous that Apple are claiming it's been 'completely redesigned'.

And there's much more processor power, with the iPad 2 being powered by a new dual-core 'A5' chip. Apple didn't say anything about the memory, but it's safe to assume it's been at least doubled from the first iPad's meagre 256MB. And the long-rumoured dual cameras, for video calling and recording, are present and correct. (Hardly surprising, given that Apple once squeezed a video camera into the lowly iPod Nano.)

But we think there's some truth in this article by tech writer Joe Wilcox, which argues that the iPad 2 is actually less important than the new, powerful, cheap iPad software Apple also launched tonight. More on which in the next story!

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