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Retina display and FaceTime

Since the debut of the iPhone 4's 960 x 480 pixel Retina Display, rumour has been rife that the iPad 2 will see a similar 'Retina' boost. However, as the likes of Ryan Block at gdgt have pointed out, reaching the same pixel density as the iPhone 4 on an iPad-size screen is a difficult feat; the iPad two would need a resolution of 2,560 x 1,920 pixels to have the iPhone 4's 330ppi density - that's eight times the number of pixels the current iPad has, or more pixels than a 30in monitor in a display 1/3 the size.

Cramming that many pixels into such a small space at an affordable price would be a feat in and of itself, but the real trick is fitting a graphics chip that can handle such a display into the iPad's chassis. The A4 processor does a decent job of powering the current iPad at a good pace, but it seems utterly implausible that constraints of battery life, heat and even physical size wouldn't preclude a chip powerful enough to render iOS on an iPad Retina Display from fitting in a device so small. What's more the cost would surely be astronomical even if it were possible to make such a processor. So while a boost in resolution is probable, it's outright unrealistic to expect an iPhone 4-like boost in resolution.
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What we can be sure of is that the iPad 2 is inevitably going to be outfitted with more powerful hardware on the inside. Adding more RAM seems like the most obvious first step, as it’s the quickest way to boost multitasking performance, with a step up in the clock speed of the iPad's A4 processor vein reasonably likely too. Improved graphics performance will be a given, especially if the resolution boost is significant.

One addition that we'll be more surprised not to see than if it does turn up is a front-facing FaceTime camera. Apple's entry into video-calling has certainly been talked about a lot, even if we don’t know few people who actually use that feature of their iPhone. Nonetheless, the launch of a FaceTime application for OS X all but confirms that Apple is looking for across-the-board coverage, which would make it remarkable if the iPad 2 wasn't FaceTime-capable.

There are plenty of other additions we'd like to see the iPad 2 introduce, but we think Apple is about as likely to add an HDMI-output to the iPad 2 as it is to change its stance on Adobe Flash any time soon. As Apple has the luxury of competing against rivals that are, well, uncompetitive the iPad 2 isn't going to be a revolutionary revision. Improvements will be the order of the day, not radical overhauls.

Now hurry up and announce the thing already, Apple.

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