First look at Apple iPad 2: what?s new, unchanged and still missin

Can?t tell the difference from iPad 1?except for that white color of the tablet computer? Look more closel

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled a sleeker, more powerful iPad 2 tablet computer on March 2, and surprised some by announcing the price would stay the same. Here's a look at what's new, unchanged and still missing.

Also read:

Jobs unveils iPad 2: sleeker, more powerful, same price

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Thinner and lighter

The new numbers in dimensions and weight sound tiny, but for handhelds, they can make a big difference. It's 30% thinner than the original iPad (now just 0.34 inches), and at 1.3 pounds, it's 15% lighter.

Powerful dual-core processor

IPad 2 is powered by Apple's new, custom-designed A5 chip. The first iPhone impressed pundits and users with its speed. This one will likely dazzle them: Apple promises twice the overall CPU performance and nine times the graphics performance. Android dual-core tablets are coming to market but not yet in volume.

iOS 4.3

With the new OS release, you'll see dramatically faster browser performance from the Safari browser. The same firmware for iPhone 4 turns the phone for the first time into a Wi-Fi hotspot: your iPad (or any other Wi-Fi client) links to the iPhone via Wi-Fi and uses a 3G wireless connection to reach the Internet. And you'll also now be able to share media files from iTunes on your PC or Mac with iOS devices.

New: CDMA cellular

One 3G wireless option for iPad 2 is a cellular data module [the black module at the top back, shown here] for CDMA networks, such as Verizon Wireless.

Cameras (and FaceTime)

From zero to two: one in front above the display, and one HD camera mounted on the back. Which lets Apple also add support in iPad 2 for its FaceTime video chat over Wi-Fi: most current iOS devices now are capable of video calls with each other.

"Smart Covers"

A specially designed, very lightweight cover, in a range of colors, for the iPad 2's glass screen, attached by auto-aligning magnets to the metal case. It folds and unfolds in rectangular sections. Folded back it creates a triangular support, as a reader, video, or keyboard stand. See an interactive demo at Apple's Web page .

New: 3-axis gyroscope

With the existing accelerometer and compass, the sensor package can figure out where the iPad 2 is heading and how it's moving. Game on.

New: White

Is color a feature? You now have an iOS color choice with iPad 2: Turtleneck Black, or Pure-of-heart White.

Unchanged: The display

There were wild fantasies that iPad 2 would have the equivalent of iPhone 4's very high res Retina Display, and the screen might be bigger. More realistic ones thought there might be some kind of tweak at least. But it's unchanged: 9.7 inches diagonal, 1024 x 768 pixel resolution, 132 pixels per inch.

Unchanged: Battery life

This is a big deal, actually. Despite the dual-core processor, Apple promises iPad 2 will still get 10 hours of Wi-Fi-enabled Web surfing, video watching or music listening. Apparently the same 25-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery.

Unchanged: Wireless and cellular

Apart from the new CDMA support, iPad 2's wireless is the same as before: 802.11abgn Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, and data-only multiband UMTS/HSDP/HSUPA and GSM/EDGE.

Unchanged: Storage and price

There's no new "Apple tax" on this baby: prices for all configurations are the same as before, despite the improvements and the more powerful CPU. Your storage options are still 16G, 32G, and 64GB. What more do you need?

Still missing:

+ Adobe Flash. Get over it.
+ USB. Maybe in iPad 3?
+ MicroSD card slot. 16, 32, 64 GIGAbytes. Get it?
+ Near-field Communications (NFC). A very short-range wireless technology being used in electronic wallets, among other things; rumored to be included in the new tablet. But iPad 2 users will have to keep buying stuff the old-fashioned way: with plastic.

What do you think? Has Apple hit another homerun? Or are any of the missing features deal breakers for you?

Also read: Jobs unveils iPad 2: sleeker, more powerful, same price

Tablet tumble: iPad 2 vs. Motorola Xoom

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.