LONDON, 4 MARCH 2011 - The Apple iPad 2 is a lovely sliver of a thing. Just 8.8mm thick, the redesigned Apple tablet has lost the sturdy but reassuring book-like corners of the first iPad and is instead svelte like the MacBook Air. The frame around the edge of the 9.7in screen is gone too, allowing the finger to glide across the entire surface area in a far more luxurious way.
The iPad 2 is noticeably nippier than the previous model too. It now has a customised for Apple 1GHz dual-core A5 system on a chip that is twice as fast as on the iPad. Though there's no talk of multi-tasking or the ability to manage the apps you launch on the tablet, the sort of tasks the iPad 2 lends itself to draw heavily on both the processor and the graphics chip. These include on-the-fly video editing using an updated version of iMovie - now a $4.99 iPad app - and real-time goofy animations that you can share with friends you're video-chatting to over FaceTime.
The FaceTime feature is interesting mainly because it's a reason for Apple to have added a pair of cameras to the iPad, though of course plenty of people will be entranced by the idea of video chat this way. The cameras are a VGA webcam and a megapixel-unspecified one that has a 5x digital zoom. The latter can record video at 1080x720p too. Geotagging is also supported.
However, it's what the iPad 2 can do with the video stored on its 16GB, 32GB or 64GB memory that's most impressive. The iMovie for iPad 2 app (with a nod to the iOS 4.3 update) allows for some incredibly impressive video editing, with voiceovers, overlay sound effects, fades and the ability to smooth transitions between frames. For basic edits there's a clips bin into which you can drop pieces of footage and cherrypick items to splice together. However, clicking on the timeline reveals a dropdown secondary timeline that opens up more indepth editing options where you can finesse the in-progress video.
When you're happy with what you've previewed, you can share it with friends over email or on a social network or video site such as Vimeo. You can also save it to your own iTunes library for later viewing.
Watching the demo of iMovie for the iPad 2, we half-expected Apple to announce iTunes as a distribution medium for home video, though that would of course involve lots of content-vetting issues as well as ones over how Apple would be able to take a cut. Still, we don't think it's beyond the realms of possibility. Apple says it has made app developers $2bn so far.
In addition to the ease of use of iMovie on the iPad 2, we were bowled over by its ability to process HD video footage and output it on the fly. The graphics power is nine times that of the first Apple iPad and in an 8.8mm chassis. What future the Apple stalwart the quad-core and eight-core MacBook Pro when a mere "post-PC device" (Jobs' term) can do all things and orchestrate up to eight digital instruments too?
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