iPad 2 hits the production lines.

The rumour mill is churning now, today it has been announced after much expectation that the iPad 2 has begun manufacture. The sequel to the best selling product of 2010, and what is widely seen as one of the pillars of Apple’s success is surrounded by mystery, speculation and curiosity, but not just from the fans.

Many apple shareholders see the iPad 2 as a test of Apples market strength without Steve Jobs at the helm. Still on medical leave, this is the first major product launched without Jobs since he returned to the computer company. Since he went on leave, stocks dived and investors got a little bit panicked over what they see as the company itself taking sick leave. Many still believe that Apple cannot survive without Jobs.

If the iPad 2 is a success, I think it’s safe to say that that assumption will be nicely thrown out of the water and Apple will still churn out market winning devices designed by Jonathan Ive and the people who make Apple go on a day-to-day basis.

But what about the iPad 2 itself? Well there’s a few things we do know about it, and a few things we just have to guess about. We do know that it will be lighter and thinner than the previous iPad which while breathtakingly slim and light could still do with shedding a few!

Most certainly, the new iPad will come with a front facing camera, Apple are still keen to push their challenger to Skype which is seen with having Varying degrees of success. However, with this new video calling ability, the iPad’s screen will remain very much the same as the current model. This isn’t really a major issue, as it is the screen on the iPad is very impressive and much sharper than most other screens available on the market.

So beyond being lighter, thinner and having a nice camera installed we also fully expect that the storage capacity will go up. This is generally in line with previous apple updates to product lines such as the iPhone, which tended to double in basic capacity with each update. So most likely the new basic iPad will start off at 32GB and work it’s way up from there. It’s also been suggested that all ipads might come as 3G + wifi as standard, this follows on from attempts by Apple earlier in the year to have integrated sim cards which were thrown down by various networks, looking to keep their hold on the very lucrative mobile broadband market created by the iPad.

Otherwise we can only guess… It’s most likely that we’ll see an upgrade to the storage capacity, many users (myself included) are finding that the current basic storage is lacking and limits the amount you can use your iPad and it’s overall flexibility which is crucial to any tablet.

The iPad should be ready to ship in the coming months, with the launch expected to be fairly soon. Ireland is usually in the second phase launch, with Hong Kong and Denmark, so it’s most likely that we’ll be seeing the iPad 2 hitting Irish shelves and online stores in June/July depending on when it’s launched.

Will you be trading in your iPad for the new model? I probably won’t be at first, for the moment the iPad 1 is still the pinnacle of portable tablets on the market and I think will hold it’s own for quite a while to come based on some simple ideas; simple interface, flexible usability, relatively light and as with all Apple products, a design icon.

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