C’mon, I had to write about it. It’s thinner, it’s faster, it’s lighter, it’s got cameras and a gyroscope, and you can go nuts on GarageBand with it. Best of all, the price is the same as it was for iPad 1: Just $499 to start, a significant price break over competitors who are stuck at around $800 (or who haven’t set a price yet) because, unlike Apple, they’re forced to partner with retailers to move units. If you’re looking for a tablet and unwilling to spend upwards of a grand, it’s probably still your best option.

What I can’t figure out is why you’d buy one if you own the original iPad. The camera’s nice, but how often do people use FaceTime on the iPhone? The iPad’s a bit more conducive to video chat since you can put it on a stand and go hands-free, but again — how often, really? A better processor is nice, but I have no complaints with the speed of the original iPad for the surfing/tweeting/gaming I do with it. Much will depend, obviously, on the superiority of the games designed for the more sophisticated iPad 2, but they’d have to be darned superior to justify dropping 500 bucks on a mostly redundant device.

What’s actively annoying about the latest Apple whatzit with double the shininess is that they continue to neglect basic yet crucial software upgrades in favor of tricking the hardware out with new bells and whistles. Nothing would please me more than being able to post new Headline items via the iPad from the comfort of my couch, but I felt a grim shudder of recognition the other day reading this lament from Slate’s John Dickerson:

For work, however, the iPad is not just bad, it represents a net reduction in productivity. One of the great things about the new Web is that you can manipulate text, but the iPad treats you like a child. (Not unlike the way iTunes treats you like a child with your own music.) I can’t copy text out of the New York Times app or the Washington Post app or most other apps for that matter. Doing it from a Web page on Safari takes about the time required to make a cup of tea. I feel like I spend all my time poking at the screen trying to get the little blue box to behave. It’s like I’m on an endless search for a button in the sewing box.

Just so. Instead of a new HD camera, how about a version of copy/paste that remotely approaches the ease of use of a desktop computer? How about, in lieu of a machine that’s four millimeters thinner, an upgrade to auto-correct that doesn’t force me to re-spell eight different words per three-line e-mail? And, for the ten millionth time, how about Flash? Simple pleasures. They make all the difference.

The new promo page is already up at the Apple website. I’m passing on this one.

Tags: New York