iPad 2

Slimmer, sleeker, still as desirable. It has to be Apple's iPad 2

Thinner, lighter and now sporting 2 cameras, the iPad 2 seeks to improve on its predecessor but following its launch in the US there have been a few problems reported and even unconfirmed speculation that an iPad 3 is coming before the end of the year.

But putting this “internet-babble” to one side for the moment, the first thing you’ll notice when holding the device is that the unit itself feels solid, even with the ‘weight-loss’. Under the hood it sports a super new processor that we are assured makes it twice as fast as its predecessor and up to 9 times faster when handling graphics.

Apple is calling its 1GHz dual core CPU the A5 but that isn’t going to mean much to anyone not wearing his or her technical hat!

Put simply, it means there is a lot of mechanical “meat” to drive the gadget but one has to wonder just how much of it will be extensively used when there is a current user base of around close to 10 million first generation iPad owners who won’t feel happy about being left behind after only 12 months investment.

However, common tasks such as web surfing – the browser opening is almost instantaneous – using the camera (of which I will speak more of in a moment) is also a breeze and faster to load than the iPhone 4 equivalent.

There is still no support for Flash, which I feel, is going to become more of an issue for Apple as the competition for Android powered equivalent devices heats up this year.

Battery life is still 10 hours when being used and almost a month if in standby but then this is no different from the first iPad although impressive because of the increased power a ‘beefed up’ processor no doubt demands.

The real difference comes with the addition of two cameras, front and rear facing, that open the way for true conference calling across the devices, as well as to iPhone 4 and Mac laptops and iMacs running FaceTime. Additionally, the recording quality, whilst not 1080p, is an acceptable 720p and certainly nothing to be dismissed out of hand.

Also, thanks to Airplay, you can now play media from your tablet through any television in the house (providing you own Apple TV).

So the bottom line is a simple one and certainly not an issue for Apple fans who will flock to get the latest version of this gadget.

The honest assessment from me is that if you own the first incarnation of the iPad there is little to tempt you to upgrade here unless you are specifically looking to conduct video conferencing.  The improvements are less dramatic from iPad to iPad 2 than Apple’s marketing machine would have you believe and unless you simply must have the latest version of everything, I would suggest waiting until iPad 3 hits the market.

If the web-fanatics who feed off every rumour are to be believed, that is likely to happen sooner than you think.

And then we’ll be having this debate all over again.

George R Vaughan