When we bought the first generation iPad for our three year old we thought it was awesome. It is a great learning tool and can keep her busy for extended periods of time in the car. It has replaced our portable DVD player and has given my wife and I some entertainment from slinging Angry Birds. The one thing I thought it was lacking was a front facing camera (or any camera for that matter!) This is 2011 – after all a free cell phone comes with a camera, right?

Why oh why would Steve Jobs hold off on the camera? Especially since he was seen with a iPad with a camera before the first genearation even launched. There has been code discovered in the first generation device pointing to a non-existant camera. The only reason could be to sell more of their next generation iPad 2.

I just finished reading a post titled Hands On With the New Apple iPad 2 By Clayton Morris via Fox News here. You can read the excerpt below and click through to watch the video.  More of my comments follow this excerpt.

“Wicked fast” processor? Check. Lighter and thinner? Check. Over 10 hours of battery life? Check. Front and rear facing camera? Check. With Steve Jobs on medical leave, Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller was widely rumored to be taking to the stage. That didn’t happen. Steve showed up and said “I didn’t want to miss this.” I was at the launch event, where Steve Jobs unveiled the new Apple iPad 2, and got to spend a few minutes hands-on with the iPad. The brand new case, called the Smart Cover, automatically wakes the iPad when you open it up. There are sensors built into the side of the iPad, and magnets on the cover and along the edge of the device combine to create this function. The magnets also mean the case is conveniently removable. Don’t want it on while you’re using the iPad? Just tear it off. In terms of the new features the iPad 2’s iOS 4.3 brings, one of the biggest is GarageBand. With it you can play drums or compose on a full-screen keyboard. I can already imagine my seven-month old sitting here, pounding on the virtual keys. I can record right from the app as well. With iMovie, the other big new addition, you can edit and watch movies right on the iPad. iPad 2 now includes two cameras, a front-facing VGA camera for FaceTime and Photo Booth, and a rear-facing camera that captures 720p HD video, bringing the FaceTime video chat feature to iPad users for the first time. More than a year after igniting the tablet computing craze, Apple’s Steve Jobs surprised the world by taking to the stage in California to unveil this: the second version of its blockbuster iPad

And here is more information on the specs and release information from suite101.com

  • Design – Applying the less is more method much like in their Mac computer that fit into an office internal envelope, the iPad 2 is dramatically thinner. It has been reduced by a third or 33% making it now 8.8mm in depth instead of 13.4mm. This also makes it thinner than the iPhone 4.
  • Weight – It has also lost some weight from 1.5lbs to 1.3lbs. The aim behind this was to make the device easier to hold.
  • Colour – iPad 2 comes in black and white, and Steve Jobs has stated that white will also be shipped from day one.
  • Networks – It is available on AT&T and Verizon.
  • Cameras – Two cameras have been added to the front and back. They are designed for FaceTime video calling, which works like a webcam. The front camera puts you and your friend face-to-face, and the back camera allows you to share your surroundings during your video call. The back camera is HD and also works like any other webcam or mobile phone camera allowing a person to take pictures as and when.
  • Video mirroring is new for iPad and for every media app requiring to be shown to a big audience. All one needs to do is plug in the Apple Digital AV Adapter or Apple VGA Adapter and your HDTV or projector becomes a bigger version of your iPad.
  • Gyroscopes – This is the same as what is featured on the iPhone and iPod touch. The iPad 2 has a built-in accelerometer, meaning that the user can rotate the device to portrait or landscape, or even upside down, and the screen adjusts. With iPad 2, the accelerometer three-axis gyroscope, and compass all work together sensing which direction iPad is heading making it easily more sensitive and interactive.
  • Connectivity – Every iPad is built with advanced 802.11n wireless technology that automatically finds Wi-Fi networks. It is also available with 3G connectivity on the above networks. You can also now stream wirelessly to HDTV and speakers via AirPlay and print things wirelessly using AirPrint. Alterative connectivity is Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology, or Wi-Fi + 3G (Verizon model).
  • Battery – This is the same built-in 25 watt rechargeable lithium-polymer battery as the original iPad providing 10 hours of battery life or over a month of standby time. The A5 chip and iOS keeps battery life consistent.
  • Storage – This is the same as before with 16GB, 32GB or 64GB.
  • System Requirements – As before the iPad 2 will need to be configured from a Mac System Mac computer USB 2.0 port, with Mac OS X v10.5.8 or later, or Windows System PC with USB 2.0 port, Windows 7; Windows Vista; or Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 3 or later and both will need to have iTunes 10.2 or later, an iTunes Store account and Internet access.
  • Maximum operating altitude: 10,000 feet (3000 m).

Dual-Core A5 Chip

The custom-designed A5 1GHz dual-core chip is really the heart of the device. It comprises of two powerful cores in one chip meaning that iPad 2 can do twice as much work without compromising on speed. At the launch Job’s stated that they concentrated on faster graphics with nine times faster performance which is an asset for:

  • Displaying photographs;
  • Video game;
  • Surfing the web;
  • Watching films or editing video with iMovie;
  • Making FaceTime (webcam) video calls; and
  • Switching from app to app, to name a few.

iPad Smart Cover

The iPad 2 Smart Cover is a detachable magnetically hinged cover. It is scored vertically so it can be folded up and used as a digital photo display stand, or as a prop if using the iPad as a keyboard. It is very thin and acts as a protector when the iPad is not being used, which may eliminate the need for transparent screen protectors. It comes in and assortment of colours and textures.

iPad2 pricing

Apple have been extremely clever against its competitors here and kept the price the same as the model before, starting at $499.00 for 16GB version, $599.00 for 32GB and $699.00 for 64GB.

The Apple website is advertising the iPad 2 being available for delivery in the United States from 11 March with free shipping, and the Europe release date is 25 March 2011.

If the estimated sales figures predicted in the ‘Whats Old and New with iPad 2’ are anything to go by, the iPad 2 will definitely see Apple retaining their global lead in the tablet PC market for 2011.

So what is a guy to do with one of these first generation devices? We would love to use the iPad for iPad to iPhone FaceTime between my daughter and I. Now we will have to take a hit and loose money to upgrade. It really never pays anymore to jump on a products bandwagon until the second generation or after a service pack has been released. What are your thoughts? I would love to hear from you in the comments below.