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Summary:

The iPad 2 is said by some to be arriving as early as February (at least in the U.S.), and the rumor mill is working overtime. As consensus grows, we end up with a much better picture of what to expect from Apple’s next iPad.

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The iPad 2 is said by some to be arriving as early as February or April (at least in the U.S.), and as is always the case when Apple hardware nears the end of a product cycle, the rumor mill starts working overtime. As consensus grows and independent reports start coming in from multiple sources, we end up with a much better picture of what to expect from Apple’s next iPad.

SD Card Slot

The latest rumor making the rounds is that the iPad will indeed have an SD memory card slot. This isn’t the first time such expansion is a possibility for the iPad 2, but now it’s been reported by a “trusted source” talking to Engadget, and it’s showing up in case designs from multiple manufacturers, as identified separately by AppleInsider and MIC Gadget. Since Apple already offers a way to access SD cards via the iPad Camera Connection Kit, there’s no good reason the company would object to building in the same functionality. In fact, it’s possible the only reason an SD slot wasn’t included the first time around was that it wouldn’t fit in the case.

Mini DisplayPort

The same case designs that back up the SD card slot rumor also indicate that another port will be introduced at the top of the device. The cutout for this alleged port is quite small, leaving few options for what it might be. Mini DisplayPort is a likely candidate, since even though it would eliminate the need for the iPad dock connector-to-VGA adapter, Apple could still sell various Mini DisplayPort converter accessories. A far less likely possibility for the spot is a micro-USB port, but there’s no way Apple would include that and still keep the dock connector.

“Retina” Display

The iPhone 4 introduced the world to the Retina Display, a 960×640 pixel screen with 331 ppi, a pixel density apparently beyond the threshold of human detection that makes for super crisp text and graphics. According to recent rumors stemming from resources found in the latest version of Apple iBooks app (1.2), the iPad will get twice the resolution it currently enjoys, bringing the total from 1024×768 to 2048×1536. As Kevin notes, that only adds up to a pixel density of 265 ppi, which, while not at the same level as the iPhone, is still a massive improvement, and will probably still be granted the “Retina” from Apple’s marketing department. Simply doubling the display resolution makes sense, since it’ll allow existing iPad apps to be compatible with the iPad 2 through zooming, though image quality will be somewhat degraded.

Front and Back Cameras

If there is any “sure thing” for the iPad 2, it’s that it will have two cameras: one in front for FaceTime, and one in the back for… well, actually, on a 9.7-inch tablet, probably mostly for occasional FaceTime use, too. Using it for general photographic and film-making seems incredibly awkward, even if the iPad 2 does sport a lighter, smaller body design.

Lighter, Smaller Body Design

Case designs and an actual iPad 2 mock-up used by a developer at CES earlier this month seem to support the idea that the next iPad will be smaller and slimmer than its predecessor. This is a standard improvement for new iterations of Apple gadgets, and it could help appease customers asking for a 7-inch iPad, something the company seems unwilling to provide. AppleInsider recently reported on an Apple patent that would allow the company to reduce the thickness and power consumption of capacitive touchscreens, which could be partially responsible for a new, smaller physical footprint in iPad 2.

Improved Processing and Graphics Power

The iPad 2 (along with the iPhone 5) is expected to get a new version of Apple’s custom A4 system-on-a-chip. According to a source talking to AppleInsider, the new version will have dual graphics cores to support the new Retina Display, and to allow for 1080p video playback (the current version tops out at 720p). The new graphics cores support OpenCL to share the burden of general purpose computing tasks with the GPU. The new chip will also pair the dual graphics cores with a dual core ARM Cortex-A9 chip for general processing. With a huge crop of potential iPad competitors unveiled at CES, these kinds of performance improvements are almost a necessity, but as is always the case with Apple products, hardware specs take a backseat to actual user experience, so if we see more modest improvements I won’t be surprised.

The iPad, Only Better

That’s the rumor picture of the iPad 2 as it currently stands. While all of these might not pan out, it’s worth remembering that no matter what the predictions made prior to an Apple product launch, and whatever the initial reaction to what does get announced, Apple consistently delivers a product that’s much better than the one that preceded it. Whatever its features, rest assured that the iPad 2 won’t be an exception to this rule.

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  1. I’m not an expert in the psychophysics of resolution perception, but my understanding of the retina display distinction has to do also with the viewing distance. The ansatz is that the iPod huge is viewed at a greater distance than the iPhone/iPod touch, so this resolution might be sufficient such that the angle subtended by the pixel at this viewing distance is sufficiently narrow for individual pixels to be undetectable.

  2. Small nit – it’s 4x the resolution. 2x in each direction adds up to 4x. Do the math and verify.

    1. Hamranhansenhansen Jason Tuesday, January 18, 2011

      No, you’re wrong. It’s 4x the number of pixels but 2x the resolution. Resolution is dots per (square) inch. If the resolution is 150 dpi and you quadruple the dots you get 300 dpi, double the resolution.

      1. The square of two is what, again?

        Doubling the number of pixels per linear inch quadruples the number of pixels per square inch.

      2. Oh good grief, do you really want to split hairs like that?

        2048×1536 is 4x the size of 1024×768.

        Perhaps you think like a dtp guy, but the rest of the world doesn’t. :)

  3. If it comes out as described, it’s a winner. Or could it be even better?

  4. “Simply doubling the display resolution makes sense, since it’ll allow existing iPad apps to be compatible with the iPad 2 through zooming, though image quality will be somewhat degraded.”

    Why is that? Did standard iPhone apps have degraded image quality on iPhone 4? No, they looks exactly the same as on original iPhone because the Retina quadruple pixel occupy the same space as normal one pixel on old display.

  5. Hamranhansenhansen Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    > camera kit

    A built-in SD card slot and micro-USB would just be an included Camera Connection Kit, which was much, much, much more popular than Apple expected. Most cameras have no wireless, they are years behind, and iPad has become a great way to modernize a camera, especially pro cameras, adding much more storage, a large screen, apps, and Wi-Fi/3G/GPS. Yes, you can keep the Dock connector also, because it has 10 watts (2x USB) and audio out and lots of accessories. If you look at the 2 USB ports on the 11.6 inch MacBook Air, on an iPad they make sense as 1 micro-USB and 1 dock connector.

    > mini DisplayPort

    If so, I will eat a mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter. AirPlay obsoletes this. A Retina Display obsoletes this. I think LightPeak is more likely. But it is probably just micro-USB.

    > It’ll allow existing iPad apps to be compatible with the iPad
    > 2 through zooming, though image quality will be
    > somewhat degraded.

    Image quality will be exactly the same. What is shown with 1 pixel now will be shown with 4 pixels that are each 25% of the size. The whole point of 4 times the pixels is that the new screen can emulate the old screen precisely. New apps can get better image quality, but old apps do not get worse.

    > The iPad, Only Better

    Exactly right. This will be the first iPad made by all of Apple. The first one was made by a small team in secret. So I think it will be an iPad, only better in every way.

  6. Out of all of these changes the only one that really excites me is the SD card slot to get files on and off the device.

    A higher resolution screen and more horsepower is fine, provided it does not come at the expense of battery life.

    In all the time I have had a “facetime/isight” camera on my Mac or mobile, I have maybe perhaps used it once to chat with someone. The cameras would be a nice addition because every one is asking for them on the off chance they need to chat with someone. I’d be interested to hear how many people use facetime on a daily basis.

  7. I doubt it will go beyond 1920×1080 resolution. $499 isn’t a whole lot to ask for a display dangerously close to ACD’s resolution.

    But if you can rig one up as an external wireless monitor, I’ll take two.

  8. iPad 2 Picture Getting Clearer as Rumors Ramp Up « Social Media Notes and News Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    [...] Here is comes folks… the iPad… only better. That’s the rumor anyway. We’ll have to wait to see if any of these things actually pan out. One thing is for sure, Apple consistently delivers a product that’s much better than the one that preceded it. The other thing I know for sure, I’m very glad I waited for the iPad 2 and the iPhone 5. Yes Apple, you have taught me patience. Strange how that works… I’ve been trying to master patience and delayed gratification all my life. Niow, when are these new versions coming out already?!?! I’ve been waiting long enough. Maybe I have a little more work to do. Amplify’d from gigaom.com [...]

  9. I’m so happy with the current gen, that I might buy the next generation too. That’s not something that I usually do. Most of the time when a gadget retires from my repertoire I sell it and move onto some other piece of hardware, running a familiar OS. If the iPad does indeed have 4x the resolution of the current generation, I’ll put off buying a new computer and probably get that instead.

  10. THEdEvGeEk BLOG » Blog Archive » iPad 2 Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    [...] READ THE FULL STORY HERE This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 18th, 2011 at 2:14 PM and is filed under Apple, Comedy, DEVGEEK News!. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. [...]

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