iPad 2: How does the new Apple iPad compare to the original?

iPad 2 should hit store shelves early this month. We take a look at the numbers and specs on the Apple iPad 2.

iPad 2 – the long-awaited follow-up to the original Apple iPad – has arrived. Here, Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduces the iPad 2 at an event in San Francisco.

Oh, hey, look at that. After months of prognostications and rumor-mongering – some of it conducted right here on the Horizons blog – Apple has trotted out a shiny new tablet computer called the iPad 2. (Personally, we were hoping for something a little more exciting than "iPad 2," but we are more than willing to admit that branding is not our strong suit – and besides, "iPad 2" works just fine. It's utilitarian!)

So what does the iPad 2 have that the original iPad did not? Well, for one, it's smaller: 33 percent thinner than its predecessor and just a smidge lighter. (The iPad 2 weighs 1.3 pounds and the first iPad weighed a-not-exactly-chunky 1.5 pounds.) Meanwhile, the iPad 2 gets a pair of cameras – one rear-facing and one front-facing for FaceTime chat – and a gyroscope, just like the iPhone 4, which should improve gaming capability.

Operating speed is up, too, thanks to a Dual-core 1GHz A5 processor, Gizmodo reports. Thankfully, price points will remain the same across the board. A Wi-Fi-only iPad 2 will set you back $499, while 3G models start at $629. To recap: The iPad 2 is faster, lighter, skinnier, and exactly the same price as the iPad 1. (We're assuming we'll see some sort of price drop on remaining iPad units, but no word on that yet.)

Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who took a medical leave of absence earlier this year, was on hand today to unveil the iPad 2. "We've been working on this product for awhile and I didn't want to miss today," Jobs said, according to PC Magazine. Jobs said the iPad 2 would begin shipping in the US on March 11 and in other parts of the world on March 25; stateside, 3G service will be available through Verizon and AT&T.

And hey! We almost forgot. Unlike the Apple iPhone 4, the iPad 2 will ship in white or black versions – right out of the gate.

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