Apple announced an updated version of its popular tablet computer iPad Wednesday.
Speculation about the device has been ripe for the last few weeks, with supposedly leaked details and photos showing the new iPad available March 11.
Despite being absent on medical leave, CEO Steve Jobs appeared to unveil the iPad 2.
"We've been working on this product for a while, and I just didn't want to miss today," he said.
The latest version is one third of the size of the original model and is also smaller than the company's iPhone 4, at 8.8 mm thick and 1.3 pounds. It has front and rear-facing cameras.
The iPad 2 is also twice as fast as the existing model and graphics power up to nine times faster. It is available in black and white versions.
Despite the improvements, prices will remain the same as they are now, starting at $499 for a 16GB, Wi-Fi model.
Jobs announced the company had sold 15 million iPads in 2010, more than any other competitor in the tablet market.
"Our competitors are looking at this like it's the next PC market," he said. "That is not the right approach to this. These are post-PC devices that need to be easier to use than a PC, more intuitive."
Jared Crawford, senior computer and electrical engineering major, is the creator of West Virginia University's official app, iWVU.
He compared the upgrade to that of the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4, with noticeable speed improvements.
Crawford recently sold his first iPad to make way for the new model.
"I'll be getting one around launch day or shortly thereafter," he said.
Crawford said an iPad version of iWVU is in the works, though no launch date is currently scheduled.
As a developer, Crawford was disappointed the company didn't reveal information on its expected update to mobile device operating system iOS.
"The features they announced today, as far as iOS goes, there wasn't much new," he said.
Speculation over what features Apple would announce had increased ahead of Wednesday's launch – including higher-resolution screens.
"I don't think it's possible right now to double (resolution) at a reasonable price," he said. "It wasn't a reasonable expectation."
Crawford particularly liked one feature – a new case for the device.
"It covered up your iPad, and it didn't feel like an Apple product," he said. "This new cover will hopefully make it still feel like an Apple product."
Orders for the new device will be accepted online at www.Apple.com March 11 or in-store at 5 p.m. the same day.