Apple's iPad 2 hits stores on Friday

The new iPad goes on sale at Apple stores across the United States on Friday as the gadget-maker seeks to stay a step ahead of its rivals in the booming market for sleek touchscreen tablet computers.

Apple will be taking online orders for the iPad 2, which was unveiled by chief executive Steve Jobs last week, beginning at 4:00 am (0900 GMT) and the device will be available in the company's 236 US stores starting at 5:00 pm (2200 GMT).

The iPad 2, which is one-third thinner, nearly 15 percent lighter and faster than the model released last April, will go on sale in another two dozen countries on March 25.

Besides the size and weight, the other major improvement to the new iPad is the addition of front- and rear-facing cameras that allow users to take still pictures and video and hold video conversations.

Apple sold 15 million iPads last year, bringing in $10 billion in new revenue and creating an entirely new category of consumer electronics devices.

Dozens of other companies have been scrambling since then to bring their own touchscreen tablets to market, most of them relying on Google's Android software to power the machines.

But with the exception of the Galaxy Tab from South Korea's Samsung, rival tablet-makers have enjoyed little success.

Technology research firm Gartner is forecasting sales of 55 million tablet computers worldwide this year and another research firm, Forrester, said Apple has little to worry about for now.

"Competing tablets to the iPad are poised to fail, which is why we're forecasting that Apple will have at least 80 percent share of the US consumer tablet market in 2011," Forrester said.

The iPad 2 arrives in US stores to mostly glowing reviews from the influential technology columnists of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

"While it's evolutionary rather than revolutionary like the first model, the changes Apple has made are generally pleasing and positive, and the device worked very well for me," the Journal's Walter Mossberg said.

Mossberg said the iPad 2 "keeps Apple ahead in the tablet race, at least for now." But he was critical of the quality of the photos taken by its still cameras and its inability to play Adobe Flash video.

"This is a deliberate decision by Apple, and puts its devices at a disadvantage for some users when compared with Android tablets, which can play Flash, or say they will soon, albeit not always well," Mossberg said.

While pleased with the iPad 2 overall, Mossberg said it was not a must buy for owners of the old model.

"Unless you are desperate for the cameras or feel you are laboring under the greater bulk of the original model, I don't advise that iPad owners race to get the new version," he said.

David Pogue of the Times said the improvement in thinness, weight and speed "transforms the experience" of using an iPad and the cameras are a "treat."

"The entire screen is your viewfinder," he said.

Pogue also noted the iPad 2's inability to play Flash video but said the device "will still dominate the market, because it dominates in all the most important criteria: thinness, weight, integration, beauty - and apps."

More than 65,000 applications have been created for the iPad, while there are currently only about 100 crafted for tablets running Google's Android operating system.

Pogue said another factor likely to keep Apple on top is the fact that the iPad 2 costs less than the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Motorola's new Xoom.

Apple is selling the iPad 2 at the same prices as the original iPad, ranging from $499 for the basic 16-gigabyte version to $829 for the top-of-the-line 64-GB model.

The iPad 2 will be available on March 25 in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Britain, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Voices
Björt Ólafsdóttir is a member of Iceland's Bright Future party
voicesIceland's Björt Ólafsdóttir on her decision to take part in #FreeTheNipple
Life and Style
The Clove Club will charge customers when they book
food + drink
News
Lapping it up: a woman feeds felines at a cat café in Japan
newsThe vast majority of cat and dog 'wet foods' contain items not specified on the tin, study finds
Sport
Andros Townsend and Paul Merson
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

    Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Mid / Senior

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing digital agenc...

    Ashdown Group: SQL DBA - Croydon - up to £65,000

    £58000 - £65000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SQL DBA - Bromley, South East London...

    Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager - Retail / FMCG / WMS Operations

    £55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager ...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat