“Slimmer, faster and better-looking” is how I’d describe the iPad 2. Fundamentally it’s not that different to the first generation iPad which was released only 10 months ago.

It has a faster processor but the storage capacities remain the same (16GB, 32GB and 64GB), it has 2 cameras (one on the front and one on the back), both of which are capable of taking still photos and video (especially useful for video conferencing), although the quality of the output from the cameras is poor compared to the iPhone 4 and the reflective screen is still too shiny use when sitting outside in the sunshine (not a problem in the UK).

So why, when I already own a 64GB iPad did I drive 80 miles on a cold Spring day and queue up for 7 hours outside the Apple Store in Liverpool (with little food and one toilet break) in order to ensure that I got my hands on one on “Launch Day” in the UK?

The killer feature for me, as a Trainer and Presenter, is the ability to display the iPad’s output onto an external monitor or projector, either via VGA or HDMI. To do this requires an appropriate cable. One end connects to the iPad’s Dock Connector and the other end connects to the monitor/projector. This functionality is available on iPad 1 but is dependent upon individual apps supporting it and also there is no HDMI support in iPad 1.

The original iPad was only available in black but this time around, Apple gave us a choice of black or white. I’d planned to purchase a 32GB in white, my reason being that in 10 months I’d filled less than 50% of the available space. However, it was pointed out to me that the 64GB version was only £80 more expensive than the 32GB so on a per-gigagbyte basis it was more cost-effective to buy the higher spec model. Somebody in the queue made a point that the white one looks like a gaming console and would not be taken seriously in meetings, a point that I agreed with so in the end I bought a 64GB black one for £559.

In addition to the iPad, I bought a Camera Connection Kit which allows you to connect a USB device, such as pen drive or external hard drive, or an iPhone to the iPad in order to transfer photos and videos.

I also bought a red leather “Smart Cover” screen protector that magnetically attaches to the front of the iPad 2. The cover has three folds which allows it to convert into a stand, which is also held together by magnets. When the Smart Cover is “closed” – ie covering the iPad screen, the iPad is automatically put into sleep mode and when you “open the cover”, it automatically wakes the iPad up – this must be why it’s called a Smart Cover! For more information about Smart Covers, see this page on the Apple website: http://www.apple.com/uk/ipad/smart-cover/

Once I was back home, I plugged my iPad 1 into my Mac and backed it up via iTunes. I then connected my iPad 2 to my Mac and ran the Restore command. This was the quickest way to get my iPad 2 up and running with all my existing apps and settings.

So was it worth the 80 mile round trip and 7 hours standing in the cold? Well, put it like this, when a friend who had been contemplating purchasing one rang several Apple Stores on Saturday morning, he found that there wasn’t one to be had anywhere in the North West and nor would there be until next week when limited supplies will dictate that the queue merry-go-round will start again.