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Hands on with iPad 2

Jason Snell, Dan Moren | March 3, 2011
While the iPad 2 wont be available until March 11, we were able to spend some quality time with the iPad 2 today. Heres what we found.

Along with the cameras, there are a couple of minor changes related not to sight but to sound. Instead of the pinhole microphone residing near the original iPads headphone port, the microphone has been shifted to the top back of the iPad 2 (on the 3G models, its actually right in the black plastic that covers the 3G antenna). And since theres no real edge on the iPad 2, the speaker has been moved to the back, and sports a grille design more like that of a MacBook Pro speaker. It was impossible to gauge the speaker performance in the crowded hands-on room, but wed guess its roughly comparable to the that of the original iPad.

There were white and black iPads on display Wednesday, and while this isnt evidence that the white iPad 2 is realweve held a white iPhone 4, after allSteve Jobs seemed to indicate they would definitely ship on day one. Personally, I think I like the look of the black iPad 2 better, but thats why they make the iPad 2 in both versions. Isnt choice great?

Beyond the two colors, there are also three different variations of the iPad 2 based entirely on wireless configuration. Theres the Wi-Fi version, of course, and then two separate versions with 3G cellular connections as wellone for AT&T and one for Verizon. Both of the 3G versions have a black plastic strip on the back, at the top, just like the 3G versions of the original iPad. The only way to tell them apart is the presence of a microSIM slot on the AT&T version.

As ridiculous as it is to focus on something a simple as a cover when theres new technology to be had, the fact is, Apples new iPad 2 Smart Covers are a pretty interesting and notable feature: so notable, in fact, that iOS 4.3 includes a feature designed specifically to support them. (How very Apple is that?)

The Smart Cover itself is a rectangle exactly the size and shape of the iPads screen, folded in four parts. The side that faces inward is made of soft microfiber cloth; the outside is either leather or polyurethane in one of five colors each. On one side is a metal hinge with small magnetic parts at both ends; these magnets attach to magnets embedded in the iPad 2 when you drag the Smart Cover near the iPads edge (it only affixes to the left-hand side of the device, however). One Apple representative referred to attaching the Smart Cover as a foolproof operation, but we proved him wrong by failing to do it the first couple times we tried. After we figured out how it worked, it all went smoothly.


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