iPad 2 just a minor upgrade?

Excitement levels are slowly building to fever pitch in advance of Apple's press event this evening. It's widely predicted to be the iPad 2, which will fly off the shelves quicker than sun tan oil in a heatwave. But is it the big iPad release of 2011? Apparently not.

The Cult of Mac site claims the iPad 2 is a 'ho-hum update', which is pretty much what a (nameless) Apple member of staff told them. He (or she) said: 'For the iPad 2 don’t get your hopes up too high. That’s all I’m going to say. They’ve had a number of problems along the way, and the third-generation iPad is the one to make a song and a dance about.' That, apparently, is due later this year.

Apple certainly isn't going to comment on that, but it does leave a nagging doubt in your mind if you are planning on splashing out on an iPad 2. After all, these things aren't cheap, so buying two in a year, especially in the midst of a recession, is a big ask. We're hoping that iPad 3 actually lands this time next year, giving us a year of being cutting edge at least.

So what will you get with the iPad 2? Well, if rumours are to be believed, we'll be talking about a thinner and lighter tablet, complete with front and rear-facing cameras, the former for FaceTime calling, the latter for taking snaps and shooting video. It's also expected to have a larger speaker, a faster chip and more RAM. So not just a 'tweak', but perhaps not the big step forward we would hope for. The screen, for example, is likely to be pretty much the same resolution as the original.

Another annoucement is expected to be a new MobileMe service, which will store music, TV shows, and films that were purchased from the iTunes store. Details of that are still vague, so expect more tomorrow if it does land. In the meantime, enjoy the next few hours with your original iPad. It could start to look quite old later tonight.

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