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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.

The inside of the Smart Cover on the edge opposite of the hinges also has an embedded magnet; when you close the cover over the iPads screen, it snaps closed and stays closed. But theres more going on here: the iPad 2 senses that the Smart Cover has been closed, and immediately locks itself. Thats cool, but even cooler is what happens when you peel the Smart Cover back and disengage that magnetic clasp: the iPad 2 automatically wakes back up, bypassing the lock screen in the process. (Theres an option in the Settings app to turn this feature off.)

As with Apples case for the original iPad, the Smart Cover can be folded up to provide a gentle incline for typing, or flipped around to make a stand for watching video. In this latter regard, its vastly superior to the case for the original iPad, which always felt a little bit wobbly in this configuration.

Lest we judge the iPad 2 by its (Smart) Cover, lets remember that its whats inside that counts. In this case, its an Apple-designed dual-core A5 processor. Its very hard to test speed of a device like this, especially in a controlled environment like a demo room. The iPad 2 certainly felt fastreally fast. GarageBand and iMovie, both apps that presumably tax hardware to its limits, moved smoothly. While we dont know for sure how much memory the iPad 2 contains, 512MBthe same as the iPhone 4seems like a reasonable guess.

Apple also spent some time touting the iPad 2s graphics performance, an improvement that is subtly visible when you fire up the new Photo Booth application and are greeted with nine previews of real-time effects, ranging from thermal vision and x-ray to twirl and mirror. A brief tour through Epics Infinity Blade RPG and Gamelofts N.O.V.A. 2 yielded likewise impressive results.

These are just a few of our impressions after spending some time in a room packed with journalists and a few iPad 2 demo units. Well have much more to say, obviously, when the iPad 2 arrives and we write our full review. In the meantime, check out our hands-on video below: 


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