Battery LifeWhile it's impressive that Apple has managed to keep the iPad 2's battery life the same as the original, much of the competition has yet to confirm how long their tablets will last, so at this juncture there's little to conclude. We do suspect the majority will keep going for similar periods of time.
WeightHow comfortable a tablet will be to use for any length of time, and how portable it is, will largely come down to weight - as proved by the original iPad, which we found too heavy (680g ). So, it's good to see the iPad 2 (590g) has shed a few grams, making it that much more manageable. It now falls in line with a number of the larger tablets we're looking at, but still falls short of the circa 410g of the PlayBook and HTC Flyer.
Coming out looking like real porkers though are the Xoom and TouchPad, which both exceed 700g. In casual use, we found them similar in feel to the iPad, so they're not disastrously hefty but we'd certainly prefer them more svelte.
PriceUnfortunately, as with battery life, we've yet to hear final details on the price of many of these devices - and a lot will depend on carrier subsidies - but there are a few ball park figures to go on.
To start, the iPad 2 comes in at the same price that the original launched - from £429 for the 16GB WiFi-only version up to £699 for the 3G and WiFi 64GB model. Meanwhile the iPad has dropped to £329 and £579 for the low-end and high-end models respectively. What's more, you can even pick up refurbished models of the old iPad for just £289, which while hardly impulse-buy level is a great price.
In comparison the Motorola Xoom is rumoured to be around £499 for the WiFi-only version, and £599 for the model with 3G mobile internet, while the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 may come in at £499. There was some talk of the LG Optimus Pad being a mere £250 but this seems very unlikely. As for the HTC Flyer, it's reckoned to be £423 for the WiFi-only model.
All-in-all, it looks like we won't be paying too much, if anything, of an Apple tax, and the pricing ball is really in the court of the competition. After all, even though these alternative tablets all provide an advantage in functionality and expandability, for day-to-day use the difference is quite small. Considering the massive established eco-system of the iPad and iOS, many people will want to see these alternatives being available at the same price, if not cheaper, before being swayed.
AvailabilityApple has done its usual trick of announcing a product and saying it will have stock in the not too distant future, and you can bet that there will be enough so that it doesn't sell out on day one. You'll be able to pick the iPad 2 up in just three weeks, on the 25 March.
In contrast all the competing products have been known about for at least a month and none are set to arrive until after the iPad 2. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 looks most likely to get there first, hitting Portugal in March while a few, like the Xoom and PlayBook, will hit shops in some locations during April. However, the HTC Flyer, Toshiba Tablet and HD TouchPad could be several months away still. Just remember, patience is a virtue.