Apple sets quick release date for iPad 2

New version of device will have 2 cameras and be lighter and thinner than original

Apple today announced the iPad 2, the second iteration of its tablet PC juggernaut that has taken the mobile computing market by storm in the last year.

According to MobileCrunch, the iPad 2 brings improvements over the initial version of the device: namely a beefier, dual-core processor (the ARM based A5 designed by Apple), front and back cameras to bring the company’s FaceTime application to its tablet, and a new gyroscope. It is also one-third thinner than the original iPad at 8.8 millimeters (down from 13.4 millimeters) and lighter at 1.3 pounds (down from 1.5 pounds).

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Prices for the original iPad will be the as the iPad 2, starting from $499 up to $830. That will be good news for agencies that want to deploy iPads without falling behind in the fast-moving waters of commercial technological innovation and like the price of the Apple tablet as opposed to purchasing laptop PCs.

Most technology pundits and prognosticators expected the improvements in the iPad 2. The dual-core processor is important to keep up with coming tablet competitors, such as the Motorola Xoom running Android Honeycomb, as are the front and back cameras. But probably the biggest news of the day, especially in relation to competitors, is that the iPad 2 will launch on March 11, just nine days from now.

To put that release date in context: the much-awaited BlackBerry PlayBook tablet was announced last September. Rumors today put the launch on April 10. The Xoom was announced in early January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and launched at the end of February. Hewlett-Packard announced its webOS-based tablet in the beginning of February and has not announced a release date except for “summer.”

Federal and state governments have been experimenting with the iPad as a means of delivering mobile computing devices to employees at a lower price than buying full laptops or desktops. The Housing and Urban Development Department has issued iPads to some workers, and the Interior Department has put around 1,000 iPads into the field for connectivity and data collection purposes. Shortly after the iPad was announced, NASA started a 1,000-device pilot program, and the agency continues to evolve its tablet strategy as the technology matures.

About the Author

Dan Rowinski is a staff reporter covering communications technologies.

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