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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.)

Meanwhile, iPad 2 price tag will remain the same across the board: A Wi-Fi-only iPad 2 will set you back $499; 3G models start at $629.

All of this is pretty straightforward for folks who don't yet own an iPad. But what if you shelled out for the original iPad within the last couple of months – only to be bombarded by the news that Apple already had a newer, faster, thinner, lighter tablet computer in the works? Well, over at PC World, Lex Friedman runs you through your options: You could sell your old iPad, you could donate your old iPad, or you could keep your old iPad, and use it to a different end.

"For instance, why turn to Amazon's Kindle if you can convert that older iPad into a dedicated e-reader?" Friedman writes. "Just equip that old iPad with the reading app of your choice-whether it's the Kindle app, Apple's iBooks, or any of the other iPad e-reading apps available for download-and clear out your e-mail settings, games, and any push notifications to make the reading environment as distraction-free as possible."

More here. In the meantime, if you haven't done so already, sign up for the free Innovation newsletter, which is emailed out every Wednesday morning.

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