New Apple iPad 2 Breaks Cover: Missing Features?

At last one of the most highly anticipated tablet releases has been announced, live from Apple’s main event in San Francisco. There were doubts as to whether Apple’s main man Steve Jobs would be able to attend after his publicized health problems. These worries were unfounded as Jobs strolled out on to the stage just after 6pm U.S. time.

New Apple iPad 2 Breaks Cover: Missing Features?

Following Engadget’s live feeds from the event, Jobs who was reported to look good, first talked about some updates to the iBookstore and gave sales figures of downloaded books. He then went on to announce the shipping of the 100th million iPhone and how it marked another milestone for the company.

Moving on to information about the iPad and how others had mocked its idea, Jobs claimed the tablet “would be magical and even though others laughed, it turned out to be magical.”

Finally after some video build-up Jobs moved on to the information that we had all been waiting for, the announcement of the second-generation iPad. There is quite a bit to take in including the surprising lack of Light Peak technology (Thunderbolt connector) along with the exclusion of USB and SD card port that had previously been rumored, so we will do our best to cover all new features.

First up was the confirmation of its A5 dual-core processor claiming to be twice as fast along with 9 times faster graphics. This addition will make it the first dual-core tablet to ship in volume. As rumored the iPad 2 will come in at 33% thinner taking it from 13.4mm down to 8.8mm, this will obviously give a massive weight saving down from 1.5 pounds to a slender 1.3 pounds, making it slimmer in both ways to the iPhone 4.

It contains enough battery power for 10 hours continuous use or 1 month on standby, this matches the original iPad. Other confirmed features making appearances are the iPhone/iPod Touch style gyroscope and the anticipated front and rear cameras, gaining the addition of PhoneBooth, allowing FaceTime calling.

As far as carriers are concerned, the inclusion of AT&T and Verizon will be covering sales, and interestingly Jobs mentioned that a white version would ship at the same time as the black model. Add-on’s were also in the limelight with the inclusion of HDMI mirrored video allowing 1080p output via a $39 Apple cable. There was also talk of Apple’s Smart Cover, which not only protects your new device but also clips on via magnets and when flapped back wakes the tablet. That’s the cover but Apple will also offer a range of cases from $39 for a poly case up to $69 for a leather-clad version.

Running alongside the iPad 2 releases, is the introduction of iOS 4.3 which when it hits on March 11, will allow better Safari performance and improved iTunes home sharing. There will also be new apps to enjoy from the 11th, with the inclusion of iMovie at $4.99 and Garage Band allowing you to play various instruments, much like one of our previous posts shows. These will be added to the 65,000 apps available.

So in conclusion the new Apple iPad 2 will offer a faster, thinner and lighter tablet with the added benefits of 3G through AT&T and Verizon, a multitude of apps and Smart Covers.

Shipping dates will be from March 11 with prices set to match the original iPad, starting at $499 for the 16GB WiFi model up to $829 for the 64GB WiFi and 3G version. This pricing structure will undercut Motorola’s new Xoom tablet. For a full rundown of the Apple event, head over to Engadget.

Is this announcement what you expected from the Steve Jobs team? Have you been surprised by the lack of certain rumored features that we have spent the last 6 months speculating over, like the absence of a Retina Display and USB outlets? Give us your thoughts.