iPad 2 Reviews, Pricing Plans Set For Friday’s Launch

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Credit: Tom Krazit

AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon are both set to carry Apple’s iPad 2 when it arrives tomorrow evening, and they’re offering similar pricing plans for the tablet that they offered on the first iPad.

Both carriers put out releases Thursday morning with the data-plan options available for those who wish to purchase an iPad 2 with a cellular data connection. The 3G versions of the device itself cost $629.99 for 16GB of storage, $729.99 for 32GB of storage, and $829.99 for 64GB of storage.

AT&T offers two no-contract plans: you can get 250MB of data for $14.99 a month, or 2GB of data for $25 a month. Either option can be taken as a prepaid or postpaid service depending on your billing philosophy, however those who take the postpaid option (where AT&T sends you a bill) will be automatically charged for data overages, $14.99 to get an additional 250MB under the first plan or $10 to get an additional 1GB of usage under the second plan. If you give AT&T your money up front, it will give you the option to purchase additional data and will just cut you off for the rest of the month if you decline.

Verizon has four options: 1GB of data a month costs $20, 3GBs costs $35 a month, 5GBs costs $50 a month, and 10GBs costs $80 a month. Like AT&T’s options, Verizon’s plans don’t require a contract.

One interesting tidbit about the tablet era has been the lack of those contracts, the generally two-year binding agreements that generally ensure wireless carriers make back the money they use to subsidize the price of smartphones to make the entry prices more palatable. Instead, tablets are being sold at their actual prices without those contracts, and it will be interesting to see if that strategy lasts as the market grows more competitive.

Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and its carrier partners plan to sell the iPad 2 in their stores starting at 5 p.m. Friday, although it seems unlikely that we’ll see a stampede for devices like in iPhone launches of the past, considering it’s also being sold online and is the second generation of Apple’s tablet efforts.

Just in time for the launch, Apple lifted the embargo on iPad 2 reviews last night. Here’s a sampling of reviews from the lucky few on Apple’s short list, and other than near-universal disdain for the cameras Apple chose to use in the device, no one should be surprised that they are overwhelmingly positive:

Walt Mossberg, All Things D: “For most average, nontechie users, I would recommend it over the handful of tablet competitors I’ve tested so far, especially given that the entry price remains attractive.”

Joshua Topolsky, Engadget: “For owners of the previous generation, we don’t think Apple’s put a fire under you to upgrade. Unless you absolutely need cameras on your tablet, you’ve still got a solid piece of gear that reaps plenty of the benefits of the latest OS and apps. For those of you who haven’t yet made the leap, feel free to take a deep breath and dive in — the iPad 2 is as good as it gets right now.”

Jason Snell, Macworld: “The first iPad was a bolt from the blue, a device that defined an entire category, and a tough act to follow. The iPad 2 follows it with aplomb.”

David Pogue, New York Times: “The iPad will still dominate the market, because it dominates in all the most important criteria: thinness, weight, integration, beauty – and apps.”

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