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iPad 2 release date nears

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(Read caption) iPad 2 release date draws night. Here, an iPad 2 tablet computer is shown at a press event in San Francisco.

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The iPad 2 is scheduled to hit store shelves on Friday, and if past Apple launches are any indication, the lines will be long, the media coverage will be heavy, and thousands and thousands of slim plastic devices will be unloaded. Not up to speed? Here's a 30-second primer: The iPad 2 is effectively a slimmed-down (and technologically bulked-up) version of the very, very, very popular Apple iPad tablet computer.

The iPad 2 includes a faster processor, one front-facing camera – for video chat – and one back-facing camera, with HD video capability. The device, which will ship in white and black versions, will be available through AT&T and Verizon; each carrier is offering its own 3G data plan, with Verizon offering four different price points, and AT&T offering two. (A rundown on the data plans is available here.)


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