The iPad 2 has also undergone a slight redesign over its predecessor. It's about one-third thinner and a little bit lighter, at 1.3 pounds, or 15 percent lighter than last year's 1.5-pound iPad.
Yes, this means the iPad 2 is still heavier than a dedicated e-book reader, such as an Amazon Kindle, but lighter than some other tablets on the market (including the new Motorola Xoom). The BlackBerry PlayBook will be about 0.9 pounds when it debuts next month, but it's a 7-inch device compared with the iPad 2's 9.7-inch screen.
iPad 2 also ships in black or white; plus, there are 10 colors to choose from on the optional Smart Covers ($39 to $69) that magnetically attach to the iPad 2 to protect its screen, wake up the iPad (when the cover is peeled back) and serve as two stands: one for typing and the other for watching video or engaging in FaceTime chats.
No changes here
Despite the increase in power and a slimmer, lighter body, Apple's industry-leading battery is unchanged. As with last year's model, the iPad 2 lasts up to 10 hours between charges. This is better than most — if not all — other tablets on the market. The iPad 2 can also be in standby mode for up to a month.
Also unchanged is the price. Starting at $499 for the 16 gigabyte model (Wi-Fi only) and going all the way up to $829 for the 64 GB model (Wi-Fi + 3G, through AT&T or Verizon), there are six iPad configurations to choose from online or at retail.
Perhaps some will be disappointed Apple didn't add a USB slot, memory card reader or support for Flash-based videos and games on websites, but overall the iPad 2 is a greatly improved product that builds upon the success of the iPad.
While more evolutionary than revolutionary, Apple gets it mostly right with this second-generation "magical" device and once again sets the benchmark that all the other "me, too" tablets can try to live up to.