Apple officially announces iPad 2

Apple has just made its second-generation iPad official! It features a 1GHz dual-core A5 chip. The new CPU is said to be up to twice as fast, with graphics performance up to nine times better than on the original iPad, while power requirements have been kept the same. Battery life is expected to be the same - Apple is promising 10 hours. Pricing has been left unchanged, starting at $499.

The new tablet will come with an HDMI output capable of 1080p, but it requires $39 adapter. There's an enlarged speaker grille on the back though resolution remained the same as the original iPad's 1024 x 768.

iPad 2, finally, has two cameras, both front and rear! 720p video recording at 30fps will be available from the rear-facing camera, which can also do a 5x digital zoom. The front-facing camera will record at VGA resolution 30fps. FaceTime is supported on the iPad 2.

There's a new cover for the device, which is best defined by Steve Jobs himself: "We designed the case right along side the product. It's not a case -- it's a cover." Basically, it's a magnetic flap that protects the front and automatically wakes and puts the device to sleep according to whether it's open or closed. Smart Covers will cost $39 in plastic or $69 for leather.

The iPad 2 is 33% thinner than its predecessor, at a mind-melting 8.8mm, and a little lighter at just over 600g. There is a choice between white and black. It'll be available on both AT&T and Verizon, and all variants start shipping on March 11th. Apple Retail Stores will start sales at the unusual hour of 5PM, which will probably make online pre-orders the fastest way to get yours.

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