Apple has just made its second-generation iPad official! It features a 1GHz dual-core A5 chip and, finally, cameras, both on the front and rear. The new CPU is said to be up to twice as fast, with graphics performance up to nine times better than on the original iPad, while power requirements have been kept the same. Battery life is, consequently, unaltered, with Apple promising 10 hours. Pricing, too, has been left unchanged, starting at $499 for a 16GB WiFi-only iPad 2 and stretching up to $829 for a WiFi + 3G SKU with 64GB of storage. The new tablet will come with an HDMI output capable of 1080p -- which will set you back $39 for the requisite dongle, called an Apple Digital AV Adapter -- but there will sadly be no rumblings of Thunderbolt connectivity here. What you will get is an enlarged speaker grille on the back, as expected, and the same 1024 x 768 resolution and IPS LCD screen technology as on the original iPad.
As we put rubber to road on our Motorola Xoom review, it's important to note that it was only a matter of time before the Android army delivered a proper iPad competitor. Moto's partnership with Google (and use of the 3.0 version of its mobile operating system, Honeycomb), has made that assumed inevitability a very serious reality. There can be little question that the Xoom is certainly a contender for the hearts and minds of potential tablet buyers in the market. Besides boasting that fancy new software (a completely redesigned experience masterminded by the man behind webOS, Matias Duarte), the Xoom is equipped with formidable hardware. The 1GHz, NVIDIA Tegra 2-based slate boasts a sizable 1GB of DDR2 RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800 capacitive display, 3G connectivity (Verizon on our review unit), along with front and rear facing cameras, HD video capability, and loads of wireless options. Not only is the Xoom clearly competitive (and frankly, more stacked) than most of its competition, Motorola has attempted to futureproof the device by offering a free hardware upgrade down the road which will give the tablet access to Big Red's 4G LTE network. Of course, all this power comes with a cost... literally. With a list price off contract of $799, the Xoom is quite a pricey piece of technology to own. Still, with all that's packed inside -- and more importantly with what Google has done on the software side -- the Xoom could represent the next stage of tablet evolution. Is it time to take the plunge?