Apple’s new iPad may offer some handy additions, but it is hardly breaking new ground, writes Jennifer DudleyNicholson
THE successor to the tablet computer that sparked a worldwide trend is 19 days away from its Australian arrival. The iPad 2, unveiled by Apple chief executive Steve Jobs last week, will offer users a thinner and lighter form, faster processing, motionsensitive gaming and, for the first time, photo and video capture on the tablet.
Jobs, who returned from medical leave to announce the second iPad, called the new edition remarkable and decried those who mocked his naming the first iPad magical, citing 14.8 million sales last year.
While technology analysts agree the iPad update is likely to keep Apple ahead of the tablet game, some have labelled the improvements incremental and questioned whether it will be enough to entice existing owners to upgrade.
Unveiled in San Francisco, the iPad 2 appeared in a different form to the previous model.
While maintaining its 9.7-inch screen size, the iPad has lost more than 100g and is a third thinner at 8.8mm, making it slimmer than an iPhone 4. The back of the iPad is more curved as a result.
It is an all-new design, Jobs says, not a tweaked one.
In addition to the slimdown, the iPad has two cameras. On its front is a VGAquality camera, while a bigger camera at the rear will capture 720p high-definition video.
Both can be used for Facetime video calls and to take novelty photos with the new Photo Booth app packaged with the tablet.
To keep up with a growing list of competing tablets such as those from HP, Samsung and BlackBerry, Apple has added a dual-core processor, the A5, to the iPad.
Jobs promises it will be twice as fast as its predecessor.
A new gyroscope provides better motion-sensitive gaming, iMovie and GarageBand apps will be launched for making movies and music on the device, and the latest iPad will come with new software, iOS 4.3.
In an unexpected addition, it will also feature magnets hidden under its left side that can be used to keep a new Apple lid, called a Smart Cover, in place over its screen.
Telsyte research director Foad Fadaghi says Apple appears to have come up with the goods to stay on top of the tablet market. He predicts the company will sell 900,000 iPads in Australia this year.
‘‘ It’s met our expectations and we do still believe the iPad will be the No. 1-selling tablet in 2011,’’ Fadaghi says.
‘‘ A lot of people have been holding off buying an iPad because they’re waiting for new features, in particular the camera.’’
He says the Apple tablet’s popularity could also be helped by the price that, for the US, remained the same level as the old model ($US499).
Time will tell if the upgrades pay off. Just 19 days, in fact. Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson travelled to San Francisco as a guest of Apple