Last week Apple invited media to come to San Francisco and "see what 2011 will be the year of." This morning TouchArcade attended the Apple media event and discovered that, as expected, 2011 will be the year of the iPad 2, according to the tablet maker.

To the surprise of most, Steve Jobs, who is currently on medical leave from Apple, took the stage himself to unveil the successor to the company's hugely popular iOS-based tablet. Jobs unveiled the new tablet to the gathered media, detailing the various innovations Apple's engineers have rolled into this new, most powerful iOS device.

The iPad 2 is physically similar to the original iPad, but with a few notable changes. The new unit weighs in at 1.3 pounds, lighter than the original 1.5 pound iPad. It's 33% thinner than the original unit (8.8 mm vs. 13.4 mm) -- that's thinner than the iPhone 4. Despite its new, svelte enclosure, the iPad 2 manages to hold onto the 10 hour battery life of the original thanks to a reengineering of the battery, says Apple. Front and back cameras have been added, as well as the FaceTime and PhotoBooth applications. And, the iPad 2 will be available in both black and white versions (fascia color) and in both WiFi-only and 3G versions -- on both the AT&T and Verizon networks -- on day one, which is March 11 in the states and March 25th abroad. An updated iOS 4.3 will also be landing on March 11.

The changes don't stop there, and this is where things get very interesting for iOS gamers. The iPad 2 features a new CPU, called the A5, that contains two processor cores as well as a dramatically improved graphics unit that Apple claims is capable of up to 9x the performance of the iPad's (and iPhone 4's) GPU. A likely candidate for the GPU used in the A5 is the PowerVR SGX543 which is capable of pushing 35 million polygons per second at 200MHz and one billion pixels per second. The SGX543 is able to run in multi-core configurations and supports OpenCL for offloading computation to the GPU core(s). A gyroscope sensor has been included, as well, which, of course, enables more precise reading of the unit's movement in space.

Even without solid confirmation of the A5's exact GPU configuration, it's clear that the iPad 2 is a dramatically more powerful mobile gaming machine than any of the current iOS devices. This was evidenced by the impressive demonstration of the new iMovie and Garage Band apps during today's event and even in the few minutes we spent in the hands-on session.

 

 

Apple allowed the media to spend some time trying out the new iPad 2 in a hands-on session following the morning's presentation. The first thing I noticed about the iPad 2 in my time with the unit is that it conveys an overall "smoother" feel, with the outer aluminum shell being slightly receded at the edge of the polycarbonate face plate. Playing into this was the reduced weight and thickness, which is readily apparent -- it definitely feels like a less substantial device, while maintaining a very solid, rigid feel. The new apps, which are very heavy on animation, as wall as iOS in general felt very smooth and responsive. I did a bit of text entry on the unit I was playing with, as lag during text entry is pretty much my only iPad gripe, and found no lag whatsoever. Unfortunately, the test device I used was not heavily loaded with games to try out, but there is no reason to think that virtually every title in the App Store won't benefit from the iPad 2's more powerful hardware.

And the Smart Covers -- they are just brilliant. I couldn't stop snapping it on and off the side of the iPad 2. I'm sure other tabletmakers have already begun sketching out copy designs.

Steve Jobs and the other members of the iOS team that took the stage today made frequent use of the term "post PC" to describe the iPad 2. It's an ambitious term, certainly, but based on what was demonstrated today and looking at the hardware sitting under the hood of Apple's new tablet, it's not a term I feel inclined to laugh off.

  • Anonymous

    Looks pretty great. I wonder if any developers had demos of games with better graphics for the launch? Kinda like last year when they had some iPad-resolution demo apps like Flight Control HD etc. Either way, the Smart Covers and speed have me excited.

    • Jordan

      I'm looking forward to this too... Lots of games like Amazing Blue Fugu should get a nice performance boost...

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YYO2NCKWQZ5VMJ4QTY2P7BW2FU bob

    It will be mine. I skipped the first gen ipad and I want one of these badly...

    Frankly I'm glad its not retina. I'd rather not have the cpu overhead. I'm pretty happy with resolution the equal of my 42" lcd TV on a <10" screen...

    • Anonymous

      I felt disappointed at seeing the same resolution screen being used, but that is not enough to sway my decision to purchase one!

      • applefangirl

        http://appleipad2go.blogspot.com/ shows a pretty good comparison between the old and new one. I didn't even know it had a new dual core processor but it does! Amazing

      • http://twitter.com/ArchieWithers Nicholas Pfent

        There are lots of errors on that page. The original iPad does not have a gyroscope or an CDMA antenna. The iPad 2 is missing proximity sensor under "sensors".

  • Anonymous

    As an owner of the original iPad, I can't help but wonder if it's a good idea to sell it on eBay to get the newer one, or just stick with it and wait a few years and buy an iPad v3 or v4 brand new...

    • Anonymous

      In my opinion, I would stick with it; the upgrades are not enough to warrant selling it at an even more slashed price (Apple Store is selling the first gen iPads for $399 brand new).

    • Adams Immersive

      For most tech products, I like the “every other” plan! Lots of new toys, but half the cost!

  • http://twitter.com/NoSuperMan ImNoSuperMan

    Steve Jobs on stage was the best surprise of the event. iPad 2 turned out to be pretty much what was expected. Not blown away by it but its a good enough refresh.

    And that cover does look really awesome. Just watching the videos of the cover makes me want to sell off my 1st gen iPad and get the new one already :D

    • Anonymous

      I wonder how the cover would hold the iPad in portrait mode and be usable - I feel it would tip over if you tried to press the screen toward the top of the tablet.

      • Popeye008

        you are a who?re

      • Popeye008

        you are a who?re

  • http://twitter.com/NoSuperMan ImNoSuperMan

    Steve Jobs on stage was the best surprise of the event. iPad 2 turned out to be pretty much what was expected. Not blown away by it but its a good enough refresh.

    And that cover does look really awesome. Just watching the videos of the cover makes me want to sell off my 1st gen iPad and get the new one already :D

  • http://twitter.com/NoSuperMan ImNoSuperMan

    looks like RR2 HD will be making good use of all the extra horse power of iPad 2 http://bit.ly/fdTLSJ

    • Stirolak26

      So where does that leave iPad 1 owners? Its a worse slap in the face than if they announced stepbrothers isnipad exclusiv or exclusive to only iphone 4 users

      • http://twitter.com/dusser Rasmus Andersson

        Obviously they'll do the same thing as they've done with the iPhone version, where the game is optimized to make the most of every generation of hardware.

  • Leo Tard

    Surely it will only be "Post PC" once they remove the need to constantly synch it with a PC (or Mac). The fact is you can't realistically own one of these without owning a PC or Mac first.

    Looks nice though....

    • xStatiCa

      That is the best comment I have seen about the Post PC term. Very good point!

  • http://twitter.com/squidlaser laosquid

    HDMI out is going to be great for playing games on the big screen.

    • Funkyflychicken

      I am generally curious about this - are people REALLY interested in buying something like a 6-8 foot HDMI cable, along with the 40 dollar "adapter" sold by apple, to sit comfortably in most rooms? For gaming this sounds absolutely ridiculous/retarded. If I may:

      1) Games that are touch-centric, you are still going to be needing to swipe all across the screen - FORCING YOU TO LOOK AT THE iOS DEVICE. So exactly what is the benefit from hooking it up to a TV to "play"? Other than maybe tilt/gyroscope games, I can't see any way this is feasible or even attractive.

      2) Again with the cable - you are going to be wired by a VERY Expensive adapter cable AND HDMI cable/extender in order to reach from a couch/chair/bed to your TV without having a problem waiting to happen. Wireless transmitting of the video would make more sense.

      It seems to me like Apple loves to add a bunch of overhyped, mostly USELESS features to a device and watch the masses eat it up like it's the greatest thing. I fail to see what is so great about HDMI out on these devices, especially when you can't just "Drag and drop" media files at will (And heck, at least with Android you CAN drag and drop just about most anything without stupid syncs/format restrictions, but I would still prefer using a dedicated console or set top box for streaming content from my network, or just stream from the tablet minus the wires and docks.)

      I would have hoped Apple would have seen this, and realized the IPAD needs to be more than an oversized Ipod touch. But again, there is really no extra functionality outside of what the iPod 4 offers, except the larger screen. Still no USB support, still no expandable storage, still no flash support, still REQUIRES a PC or a MAC to even legitimately use the thing.

      Sure, iOS WAS at one time much smoother and more usable than Android, but I think Apple really needs to get things moving better in their corner or they are going to begin losing market shares big time.

      • http://twitter.com/Dd3m Chris Flores

        Why does it have to be about gaming?

        HDMI-out sounds great for educational purposes.

        As it is, there are a few educational applications and games for the iPad. And now a class room teacher can pick a child to use one of these, as the rest of the children follow along with it hooked up to a screen or projector.

        Doesn't even need to be a group of small children. I have an app on my ipod touch where you can put in the equation of a line and it will graph it.

        Or instead of bringing a hunky laptop, it can be used for presentations, being simple to carry, simple to slip in a bag.

        Or if there was a video on the iPad, or on the PC/Mac, or on youtube that someone wanted to show a bunch of guests and they don't have a set top, just hook it up and its there straight away. Easy.

        What I'm saying is, it doesn't always have to be about gaming. If that's why you have an iOS device, then fine. But don't assume that's why everyone else has one (I personally know ONE other person that both has an iOS device and browses TouchArcade).

      • Anonymous

        I agree with point 1- flat screen = must look at screen (except for gestures and accelerometer/gyro controls), but for the second point, HDMI cables are pretty cheap (a 15 foot 28AWG HDMI Cable costs $5.89 at monoprice, for example), bringing the cost of the adapter and HDMI cable to under $50 (and possibly cheaper when/if 3rd party adapters start coming out).

      • http://twitter.com/spongefile Tina Aspiala

        Keynote presentations. That is all.

  • Sandersjunk

    Looks cool. But nothing overly compelling. I think I will wait for ipad 3, my ipad 1 will be just fine until then.

  • gee

    finally!!!!
    i want this sooo bad.
    ...good job apple.

  • Wardoc22

    i want this is play tap tap 3 on it

  • Adams Immersive

    And now I am finally about to join the ranks of iPad gamers :) 64GB WiFi-only. But... what color?

  • applefanboi

    here's a pretty good comparison between the first ipad and the new one that just came out:
    http://appleipad2go.blogspot.com

  • http://twitter.com/JotaIGz JotaIGz

    I remember at D8 a couple of years ago Steve was told not to use the term "post-pc devices" not to freely, his reaction was like "the hell I am going to use it, damn it"

  • Dean

    I am also glad it doesn't have retina. If it did we wouldn't be getting 9X the video speed. I know it's not an Apple thing, but I REALLY wanted it to have an SD slot. Sure you can get the camera kit, but then you're stuck with purchasing swapping adapters if you want to say use SD and HDMI... and those would be useful at the same time if I wanted to load up an SD card with movies to watch on a TV over HDMI. Booo for no SD slot. Yaay for all the extra horsepower.

  • Eleven

    1080p out makes up for the lack of high-res on the display imo

  • Strider

    WAAAAAAAAAAH! My iPad is outdated already!

    • Theorioles33

      If it still does what you need it to do, then its not outdated. :)

  • noodle

    I wasn't impressed with the original and this one doesn't excite me either. .. a big iPhone.

    The iPhone is wonderful! perfect compromise of personal computer + mobile phone

    • Theorioles33

      I wish everyone would stop calling the iPad a "big ipod or iphone". Are all tablets just big phones? I do agree about the iPhone though!

      • http://twitter.com/Dd3m Chris Flores

        To be honest, that's what it is.

        But the iPod Touch rocks, and I'm currently striving for more screen space. So what's so bad about the iPad being a big iPod Touch?

    • http://twitter.com/spongefile Tina Aspiala

      There are a ton of apps that just need the screen space. Comic book readers. Music apps. Games more complex than Angry Birds. iMockup. Art and design apps. Graphing, mindmapping, virtual controllers, and so on.

      Big iPad = an iPad that you can do a lot more serious stuff with.

  • cmader

    I would probably be impressed if I didn't still think the iPad is the dumbest thing Apple has ever made. I've had Macs since '92 and have seen a lot of poorly conceived products get pushed out of Apple's doors but this takes the cake. But Apple is now (for some reason) a trend setter so iPads will continue to out sell hot cakes because people need to buy them if they want to look cool and trendy.

    • Anonymous

      I'm definitely buying one (actually probably two) even though I don't need it just to be cool and trendy.

      I basically wake up every day with the first thought in my mind going something like this:
      "What can I do to become more cool and trendy today?"

  • Crc_error

    So 10" of screen display must be the standard. I feel that it's too much to haul around. I did like the Samsung Galaxy Tab and it's 7" screen display. As it seemed to be a good balance for on the go, and using it to read at home. But apparently 10" screen is the new standard in all Tablets coming out. Sad really. But I'm probably in the minor....

    Also, I know they will never do it. But a SD card slot would sure be nice. Still this ranks up as a must pass for me.

    • flod

      I also think a 7" iPad with the same pixels resolution as the current one (which would probably put it close to Retina) would be a nice addition. Same resolution, so it would be compatible to all present apps, pretty much same usability, but much more portable.

      • Josh

        7" would be far from the iPhone 4/iPod touch 4G retina resolution which is is 960x640 at 3.5". The iPad is 1024x768 which is not much bigger than the iPhone 4.

  • Anonymous

    Looks like my old iPad is retiring to photo frame duty.

  • Christiseattle

    I'll wait for the quad core droid tablets coming out at the end of the year.

    • Theorioles33

      The problem with those is that they run Android. ;)

      • Gfhfg

        Ya and IOS let's you do sooooooooooo many things LOL
        LOL
        LOL
        LOL
        ehh fanboys

      • Anonymous

        it does and it already did; rooting > android = jailbreak > ios.

        ehh underexposed weirdroids

  • http://twitter.com/FortyRock Lang

    I love gaming on my 1st Gen (64GB + 3G) and although I can rationalize why it's worth upgrading to the 2nd gen equivalent, there are a number of reasons why I prefer the 1st Gen.
    :
    - Weight. Yes, the 1st gen can get heavy, but I like the heft (perceived durability)
    - Speed. Everyone wants the latest and greatest. Except for photo blogs, the speed of the 1st gen is just fine with me.
    - Cameras. Regardless of the quality / resolution / focus features of the cameras, this *could* be a big thing for me as I like to video chat with my young daughter when traveling (which is rare). But for real photos, I can't see taking photos outside as being pratical (especially on a sunny day) and would still take out my m4/3.
    - New Cover. To be honest, the thought scares me. Metal on metal = scratches.
    - HDMI adapter. Works with 1st Gen too. Sure, 1st gen won't support 1080p, but neither does the Adapter/iOS 4.3 (720p limit). AirPlay and composite cable works just fine in a pinch
    - Memory. Still an unknown while we wait for someone to crack it open. This could be a big thing for the 2nd gen, especially if it helps avoid app crashes when multiple apps are swapped to the background or Safari is rendering large/multiple pages. I'm definitely going to wait until iOS 4.3 in case some Safari optimizations were in the works.

  • Jaison13

    i passed on gen 1 because of cameras. so i am going to get this one whether it's a 1.5 and 2 is coming in the fall or not. then i'll use this one and wait for ipad4. that will give the one i buy 2 years and 4 should be really awesome!! i'd love to see it advance to the point where the touch screen was as good as a cintiq tablet to use with photo shop. but that is a real pipedream!

  • http://allasloss.com Nick

    Really enjoy the first iPad. All I wanted was more graphics memory and they blew me away with this. Pretty crazy.

    • Wim Lauryssen

      How exactly did they blow you away? It sounds great in theory and it probably is, but I'd wait until I actually get to play around with it, or at least until I read a hands-on preview of something that requires a little more horsepower than Pages.

      • http://allasloss.com Nick

        The sentence seemed self-explanatory. All I think my current iPad needs is more memory (and in reality, that is only for 1 app I own: djay). Apple announced more than that, so I was blown away by all the extras.

        Have you used Apple products long or at all? Every iOS device I've used has been top-notch, so reviews by third-parties don't hold a lot of weight when I've always found them enjoyable.

  • Anonymous

    Cool. I'm looking forward to see the game graphics. The unreal engine is already looking awesome on the first iPad, so I'm curious to see what's next on the new one...

    Can't wait to start prototyping for this device...

  • Vauxhall95

    A little jealously speaking perhaps, but as the owner of an Ipad and IPod Touch 3, I am getting a little irked with the lack of a stable gaming platform. Perhaps my thinking is old school, but when I spend $300 to $600 on a gaming device, I feel I have the right to have it play all the new games for at the very least 18 months.

    Just from a business standpoint, didn't Apple just sell 5 million IPads? That's a pretty sizable installed user base. Why alienate it? Why the rush to bring out the replacement before developers have yet to even scratch the service of what the IPad can do? It's not like they added storage space or kept the changes purely aesthetic. The inclusion of a dual core processor would seem to make obsolete 5 million existing IPad users. Now Apple might believe that those users will upgrade but speaking for myself, I can't afford yet another $600 electronic gadget.

    I know sour grapes, but still... I just got the darn thing in December!

    • Mister Mumbles

      "Just from a business standpoint, didn't Apple just sell 5 million IPads? That's a pretty sizable installed user base. Why alienate it?"

      Some may grind their teeth, but it's not like one couldn't see it coming. Looking at Apple's past releases it shouldn't have come as a surprise at all, seeing how they've pretty much had a yearly updates to iPods/Touch/Phone for some time now.

    • Eric5h5

      No, they haven't sold 5 million; they sold 7 million *last quarter*. The total is 15 million. If they don't update the iPad regularly, the competition will destroy them, and Apple will completely lose the tablet market. But surely you already knew that?

  • Link6746

    OOoh, this means I'll be able to get my father that first gen Ipad...

    He's been wanting to do IOS gaming for a long time, but his hands are HUGE.