Using speed tests, benchmarks and in-depth testing, PC Advisor's Apple iPad 2 review shows that Apple's upgrade to the original Apple iPad is a worthy successor to the "most successful consumer product ever launched". The following review by Macworld US's Jason Snell was updated on 10 March 2011

The Apple iPad 2 is faster, smaller, and lighter than the Apple iPad introduced a year ago - all while retaining the £429 entry price that has proven all but impossible for other tablet PC makers to match.

PC Advisor teamed up with the experts at our US sister title to bring you the first in-depth review of the Apple iPad on a UK website.

Apple iPad 2 review index:

This page - Apple iPad 2: the details

2 - Apple iPad 2 speed tests

3 - Apple iPad 2 accessories and software

4 - Apple iPad 2 in pictures

5 - Our expert verdict, specifications

Apple iPad 2 review: a game of millimetres (and grams)

The size difference between the original iPad and the Apple iPad 2 may seem slight, but that’s only because we’re dealing with such small products to begin with. But for products this small, every gram and fraction of a centremetre counts.

The Apple iPad 2 measures 241.2x185.7x8.8mm, and weighs in at 601g. That means Apple shaved 77g off the original Wi-Fi iPad. The iPad 2 is also 4mm narrower, 1.5mm shorter, and 4mm thinner than the original iPad.

A matter of small degrees, to be sure, until you consider the percentage change: the Apple iPad 2 is roughly two-thirds the thickness of the original iPad, and 88 percent of its weight (83 percent when comparing 3G models). Pick up an iPad 2 after handling an original iPad, and you’ll notice the difference right away. This is a lighter, thinner device.

In order to shave off that smidgeon of thickness, Apple has transformed the anodized aluminum back panel of the iPad. The original model’s back panel was a frame with four flat edges and a gently curved back surface. The Apple iPad 2 eschews the frame, opting for a single surface that much more rapidly transitions from curve to flat. (This has the effect of making the iPad 2 much less wobbly than the original when laid on a flat surface.)

Without those edges, the Apple iPad 2’s ports and buttons are now positioned on a curving portion of the back panel, rather than on its side. The feel is quite different, a bit like reverting the flat surfaces of the Apple iPhone 4 to the curved back of an Apple iPhone 3G. A few times I found myself struggling to insert cables into the iPad 2’s dock connector at the proper angle because I was confused by the curve of the back panel.

The end result of all this slimming down is that the Apple iPad 2 is easier to handle than the original model. The original iPad turned out to be a product that really demanded a case of some sort, just to make it easier to handle.

The Apple iPad 2 is easier to carry with one hand, and the decreased weight makes it easier to hold for longer periods of time. But if you’re planning on using the iPad 2 to read a lot, you’ll still find yourself propping it against your chest or setting it on a table - the tablet is still not light enough to hold in one hand for extended periods of time. (For that, you’ll need something more on the scale of the Amazon Kindle 3, which is less than half the weight of the iPad 2.)

Apple iPad 2 review: 12 variations on a theme

The original iPad came in six different variations - Wi-Fi-only and Wi-Fi/3G versions, each available with 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB of storage. The product was such a hit that Apple apparently decided that even more variations would be better - as a result, there are 12 different versions of the Apple iPad 2 (18 in the US). It’s a little crazy.

The storage variation remains: every model is available in 16GB, 32GB, or 64GB capacities. You can also choose an iPad with either a traditional black bezel or a new white bezel - which Apple insists will be available on day one, despite the company’s failure in ever shipping the promised white version of the iPhone 4. That’s six variations right there. Now multiply them by two, since the Apple iPad 2 comes in a Wi-Fi-only version as well as two separate Wi-Fi/3G versions.

The good news is that the iPad 2 costs just what the original iPad did, starting from £429 for the 16GB, Wi-Fi-only model.There’s no price difference for white or black models.

Apple iPad 2 review: What hasn't changed

Though it’s thinner and lighter, the Apple iPad 2, at a glance, looks very much like the original iPad. Its front is a sheet of glass over a bright 1024-by-768-pixel display surrounded by a bezel (again, now available in black or white) that’s going to be necessary so long as humans grasp with opposable thumbs. The aluminum frame around the outside of the bezel of the original iPad has been reduced to a thin edge, almost entirely invisible, in the iPad 2.

The position of the iPad 2’s buttons and ports are, likewise, more or less undisturbed. There’s a sleep/wake button at the top right edge, a standard headphone jack at top left, a volume rocker and a sliding switch (configurable to lock screen orientation or mute alert sounds via the Settings app) at the top of the right side, a 30-pin dock connector port at the bottom, and a home button at the bottom of the front face.

The Apple iPad 2’s built-in microphone is dead centre at the top edge of the device—it was next to the headphone jack on the original iPad. Both 3G models feature a black plastic cutout along the top rear face in order to improve cellular reception; the 3G model also has a micro-SIM card slot along the top left edge.

Next: Apple iPad 2 speed tests >>