iPad 2: Thinner, Lighter, Faster, Available March 11

Today's iPad 2 event didn't disappoint.  While there were no real surprises for people following the iPad 2 rumor mill, iPad 2 looks like a great upgrade over the original iPad.  iPad 2  is thinner, lighter, and faster than the original iPad.  Perhaps the biggest surprise is that it is going to be available in just 9 days.

Thinner

How much thinner is the new iPad?  33% thinner.  The iPad has gone from 13.4 mm to just 8.8 mm.  The iPad 2 is now even skinnier than the iPhone 4 which is 9.3 mm thick.

Lighter

Up to 15 percent lighter claims Apple.  This should come as a relief to those who felt the original iPad was too heavy.

Faster

The iPad 2 is getting a new dual core processor dubbed the A5 (just as we predicted).  Apple says the new processor is twice as fast as the old one and claims the graphics performance is 9 times faster.  A ninefold increase is graphics performance is pretty crazy for one generation of improvement.  Early hands on reports claim the new iPad is blazingly fast.

Cameras

The new iPad comes into line with the rest of the iOS family by getting front and rear facing cameras.  The front camera is a VGA camera that can be used for facetime chats with other iPad, iPhone, iPod, and Mac users.  There is also a neat photobooth app that allows you to take photos of yourself using the front camera.  The rear camera can shoot 720p HD video.

iOS 4.3

The new iPad will come with the newest version of Apple's mobile operating system iOS 4.3.  This update enables better performance while using the Safari Internet browser, iTunes home sharing, Airplay improvements, and you can now turn the iPad mute switch back into the rotation lock if you so wish.

Other stuff

The iPad 2 also gets a gyroscope and will now be available in black or white (as reported earlier this week).  Apple demonstrated new apps for iMovie and GarageBand for iPad.  Both apps looked very impressive and both will be available the same day iPad 2 releases.  I have been expecting iLife apps for iPad for awhile now.  The only thing oddly absent was iPhoto for iPad.  Finally, Apple announced new "smart covers" for the iPad which act as a screen protector / case.

Conclusion

With much improved hardware yet the same exact prices as the last generation iPad, Apple should continue to dominate the tablet space.  iPad 2 definitely looks like a worthy upgrade over the original iPad.  Did we get everything on our wish list (SD card reader, retina display)?  No, but Apple has to keep some things for future hardware updates.  We are definitely excited about iPad 2 and will have much more on iPad 2 in the days and weeks to come.  Now we just have to decide which color iPad 2 to buy.