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iPad 2: Second thoughts

With the excitement of the launch over and the specs out, we have had a bit of time to sit and think on what appears a worthy sequel to Apple’s groundbreaking device.

Initial impressions of the tablet at yesterdays launch left us thinking that the iPad 2 was just a faster version of the original. The additional camera and extra graphics processing capabilities feeling very much like something which should have been included in the current-gen iPad. But a few hours contemplation and we are beginning to think otherwise. Apple struck gold with the launch of the iPhone 3G and succeeded in selling handsets in numbers the company had previously only dreamt of, and that, like the iPad 2 was just faster than its predecessor.

All the design tweaks and performance improvements point to the iPad 2 being Apple’s mass market tablet. The choice between black and white models has added even more marketability to the device and taken off the hi-tech edge that the iPad currently has. Crucially Apple has kept the pricing on the device super competitive, especially given the large number of Android tablets being released this year, all of which are more than capable of ousting the iPad from its throne.

The complete package that the iPad 2 represents is just better than anything else out there at the moment. No other tablet combines software and hardware so well and has access to the such a well-stocked application infrastructure. Many believe that it was the app store that sold iPhones, and this could very much be the case with the iPad 2.

From our brief hands on with the iPad 2 yesterday it appeared that iOS just worked best with a dual-core processor. The totally seamless app-switching and speedy browsing experience it granted made the tablet better than perhaps even a laptop for general computing activities. This combined with the inclusion of a set of cameras meant that the video calling capabilities were there, currently a laptops only trump card over the previous iPad.

Apple did plenty of figure-boasting at the beginning of yesterdays press conference, pointing to their position as holding 90% of tablet sales last year. This will definitely change, as more people adopt Honeycomb and the Android option for their tablet PC. But then more tablets will be sold in general in 2011 as the technology becomes more affordable. Apple might lose some market share, but they will sell more devices.

It remains to be seen just how well the Android combatants do in 2011’s tablet war. It certainly took Android a few years catching up before it bested Apple in the mobile phone market, so who knows Apple might have a year or two breathing space yet.

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