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Top Ten reasons to buy an iPad 2

Apple will launch the Second Coming of the iPad in the UK and 24 other countries tomorrow, but should you be heading to your Apple Store to wait in line for the five o'clock scrum?

Veteran Apple fan(boi) Stewart Meagher offers his top ten reasons to join the iPad gang.

1. It's not an iPad 1
It would take an Apple-phobic of the highest order to deny that the iPad has had a massive impact on the way we think about mobile computing. Apple's self-proclaimed 'post PC device' took the world by surprise, sending every box builder on the planet scurrying off to the drawing board. Within months of the announcement of the original iPad, more than 100 wannabes were in varying stages of prototype or production, and we're all anticipating a virtual tsunami of bandwagon jumpers in the next few months.

The original iPad got a year's head start on the competition and, despite being met with a barrage of negative press, showed stellar sales from day one. Those early adopters were brave enough to put their faith in Apple and a device without track record or commercial precedent, and we should thank them all.

The iPad was flawed and incomplete, but the iPad 2 addresses many of the original's shortcomings.

2. iOS 4.3
Apple's mobile operating system, which was born on the original iPhone and is based on grown-up OSX, is now a mature OS with a massive developer base. The GUI is intuitive and undeniably beautiful, the Unix shell is practically bomb-proof, and the company's walled garden approach to what you can and can't install on its devices means that everything just works. Google's Android may be attractive to those of you who like to footle about in the innards of your OS, but anyone who just wants to be able to get on with day-to-day life without a degree in computer science will find a safe haven in iOS.

3. It's designed by Apple
The original iPad was achingly beautiful in its own right. The sheer simplicity of its virtually button and port-free glass and aluminium shell puts the lumpen competition to shame. It may not have had the connectivity many potential punters expected, but it's a portable device and festooning it with multiple dust-sucking ports would have been a mistake.

The iPad 2 retains that simplicity in a slimmer, lighter shell. It's a device which people want to touch and hold and stroke.

4. Ten hours of battery life
Despite being substantially thinner and marginally lighter, the iPad 2 still retains an extraordinary ten hours of battery life. Apple expends huge amounts of energy and cash getting battery life right and, thus far, no-one else has come even close.

5. Smart covers
A $40 case which doesn't even cover the back of your expensive device might seem like a poor reason to shell out a minimum of $500 for a new gadget, but you really have to see the iPad Smart Cover in action to appreciate its genius. It's nothing more than a sheet of vinyl with dozens of embedded magnets, but it sends the iPad 2 to sleep and wakes it automagically, cleans the screen using a microfibre lining and folds into a clever stand which works in both typing and viewing modes. Industrial design at its absolute best.

6. It's cheap
Cheap is not a word you would normally associate with an Apple product but, at £399, the base model of the iPad 2 makes the $500 7-inch BlackBerry Playbook and the similarly-priced Motorola Xoom look positively overpriced.

You can buy cheaper tablets but you won't get more bang for your buck anywhere else.

7. Apps Apps Apps
Google's Android is making inroads into the mobile app market but Apple is so far ahead of the rest of the pack that's incredibly unlikely that anyone will ever catch up. There are currently more than 60,000 apps designed specifically for the iPad, which can also run any of the 300,000 plus offerings available for the iPhone, albeit in a smaller window or stretched to fit the tablet's larger screen. You could spend a lifetime just installing and fiddling with the thousands upon thousands of free apps available, but the real fun starts when you start shelling out some cash.

8. GarageBand for iPad
If you have even the most casual interest in playing or recording music, GarageBand is worth the price of admission to the iPad club alone. For a frankly ridiculous £2.99, GarageBand will turn your iPad into a fully functioning eight-track digital recording studio complete with built-in musical instruments, backing tracks, professional effects and the ability to record an manipulate real instruments and voices with an additional dongle.

Demo tracks built on an iPad can be transferred to a Mac and opened using GarageBand for OSX or Apple's brilliant professional music production software Logic, but it's only a matter of time before even mainstream artists start releasing tracks and albums created using an iPad alone. After all, as Steve Jobs pointed out in his iPad 2 keynote, The Beatles created most of their albums using a simple four-track recorder.

But by far the best thing about GarageBand for iPad are the smart instruments. Smart keyboards, drums and guitars mean that even the most ham-fisted and tone deaf among us can rattle out a decent tune in minutes. No talent required.

9. Power to the iPad
The original iPad's ARM-designed Apple A4 processor chugged along at a fair old lick but the iPad 2's dual core A5 offering 'screams' according to one well-respected reviewer. Even the slight delays in refreshing screens and switching apps are a thing of the past. It's also worth bearing in mind that there are pretty much zero apps available which take advantage of the new CPU architecture at time of launch, let alone the new graphics chip which is said to be as much as nine times faster than the first iteration.

Apps written specifically for the iPad 2 should take mobile gaming and media to an entirely new level in the coming months and we can't wait to see what the army of developers come up with to push the hardware to its limits.

10. Look... it's an iPad
Do you remember the first time you saw someone walking down the street talking on a mobile phone? The iPad has the same effect. People will be jealous. They will want to touch it, and by extension you. It will help you make friends and influence people. Being able to get at the root of your Android Honeycomb tablet may impress other pasty geeks, but it won't get you a girlfriend.*

*Owning an iPad 2 is not guaranteed to get you a girlfriend/boyfriend.