The announcement by Verizon Wireless that the Xoom will ship on Feb. 24 was followed almost immediately by an invitation by Apple to a press announcement in San Francisco on March 2. Considering the splash that the Xoom is making in the tablet market before it has even been launched, this is no surprise.
The Xoom, with its collection of new features that the iPad doesn't have and with capabilities that haven't even been touched on in discussions about the iPad, makes the iPad look decidedly dated.
While there's little question that the March 2 announcement will be for the iPad 2, there are still plenty of questions as to what that announcement will entail. Will there be a Secure Digital slot in the iPad 2? Will there be dual cameras? Will there be a better and bigger display? The press invitation only says: "Come see what 2011 will be the year of."
Rob Pegoraro, writing in the Washington Post, said that since this is officially the Year of the Rabbit in China, perhaps it's a signal that the iPad 2 will change its name. Or perhaps it's because Rabbit kinda sorta rhymes with tablet. Personally I think that's a stretch. Apple will probably declare that 2011 is the "Year of the Tablet," which is something we've already said here, and plenty of others have already said elsewhere.
But beyond officially declaring it a year to be "of" something, what will the new iPad be like? It will probably be a lot like the iPad 1. I'd be very surprised if it were different in major dimensions, although it's supposed to be thinner. There will be two cameras, one for taking photos and HD video, and one facing the user for video chats. The display will apparently be somewhat higher resolution than the current display, although it won't be Apple's Retina display such as what's on the iPhone 4. One would hope there will be an SD slot, but who knows?
The biggest change for the iPad is that the 3G version will apparently be available from Verizon Wireless in a CDMA version, according to an interview in Bloomberg News. Whether that means that all iPads will come with both GSM and CDMA capability is an open question.