We’re just 48 hours away from getting our first look at the long-awaited, next-generation iPadâ€”or that’s what we’re expecting, at least.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIndeed, with all the leaks, rumors, and wild guesses we’ve been hearing in the past months about the next iPad, it’s easy to forget that Apple hasn’t even officially announced the thing yet, much less doled out any details or pictures.\r\n\r\nSince we still have a couple days to kill before Apple ends the suspense, now might a good time to summarize what we know, what we think we know, andâ€”most importantlyâ€”what we definitely don’t know about the iPad 2.\r\n\r\nWhat we know\r\n\r\nThe original iPad is still the only iPad, for now: Like I just said, Apple has yet to announce, acknowledge, make veiled references to, or even hint at a new iPad. Well â€¦ strike that: during Apple’s most recent quarterly earnings call, Apple COO Tim Cook told analysts (who’d been asking about competition from impending Android-based tablets) that “we’re not sitting still” in terms of the tablet market, a remark that may qualify as a vague hint.\r\n\r\nApple is holding an iPad-related event Wednesday: The invitations went out last week, with an image showing a Mac OS calendar page peeled back to reveal an iPad peeking out from behind. The caption: “Come see what 2011 will be the year of.” So yesâ€”the writing’s on the wall, but the invite stops short of saying “come meet the iPad 2” or anything like that.\r\n\r\nLast but not least, we know that … uh … : If we’re only talking about things we definitely know about the next iPad … well, strictly speaking, we don’t know much more than what I just outlined above. Oh, wait: Wednesday’s Apple event will be held in San Francisco, at 10 in the morning local time. And iPad-related topics are on the agenda. There you go.\r\n\r\nWhat we don’t know\r\n\r\nWhat it’ll be called: Everyone’s been calling the next iPad the “iPad 2,” and there’s even a new (and likely fan-generated) rendering of the next-generation tablet floating around with the “iPad 2” name stamped on the back. But as far as I know, no one’s come out and reported that the iPad 2 will, in fact, be called the iPad 2. Apple’s been known to throw curve balls when it comes to naming its next-gen products (like, for example, the iPhone 3G and 3GS), so I wouldn’t put all my eggs in the “iPad 2” basket.\r\n\r\nHow much internal storage it’ll have: Will we get an iPad 2 model with 128GB of built-in flash storage, or will the largest next-gen iPad still top out at 64GB? Hard to say. There have been scattered reports of iPad 2 mockups with “128GB” etched onto the back, but that may be more a case of wishful thinking than a concrete clue. I predict the priciest iPad will still offer “just” 64GB of flash storage (which still costs a premium compared to conventional disc-based hard drives), but that’s only a guess on my part.\r\n\r\nHow much it will cost: Apple is in the habit of marking its next-generationÂ products with the same price as the previous generation, and there’s no reason to believe that Cupertino will change course with the iPad 2. Again, though, we’ve yet to hear any reliable rumors about pricing. (For the record, the current iPad costs anywhere from $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi-only version to $829 for the 64GB 3G iPad.)\r\n\r\nWhen it will ship: Conventional wisdom initially had it that the new iPad would probably hit stores about a month or so after being announced, but now there’s talk the iPad 2 might be available immediately. Maybe so, but personally, I’m hedging my bets until Apple serves up the official line.\r\n\r\nWhat we think we know\r\n\r\nSlimmer profile, less heft: Just about everyone seems to agree that the redesigned iPad will be “smaller” and “lighter” than its predecessor, complete with a flatter back and tapered edges. Indeed, chatter about a slimmed-down iPad 2 shell has been so consistent (not to mention a logical progression for the iPad line) that I’d be shocked if it didn’t come to pass Wednesday.\r\n\r\nA camera, or two: Another consistent iPad 2 rumor has it that Apple will fix one of the biggest criticisms of the original iPadâ€”namely, the lack of a camera. A recent Wall Street Journal story claimed that the new iPad will have “at least” one camera in front for FaceTime video chat, and there have been countless sightings of purported iPad 2 cases with strategically placed holes in back for a second, rear-facing lens. While there still seems to be some lingering doubt about a second camera, a front-facing lens is pretty much a no-brainer, particularly since each and every iPad competitor out there has one.\r\n\r\nSame-resolution display: The hot rumor back in December had it that the iPad 2 would arrive with a sharper, 2,048-by-1,536 pixel display, good for a “retina”-style screen similar to the one on the iPhone 4. But the latest word and some leaked spy shots have poured cold water on the buzz, and it’s now looking almost certain that the revamped iPad display will come with a 1,024-by-768-resolution display, same as the original. Oh well. (Don’t worry; recent chatter has it that the iPad 3â€”yes, 3â€”might get the retina-display treatment.)\r\n\r\nFaster, beefier processor: “Dual-core” is the gotta-have spec when it comes to this year’s hottest smartphones andÂ gadgets, and the iPad 2 is no exception. Most believe the revamped tablet will get an updated, dual-core version of Apple’s A4 “system-on-a-chip,” complete with 512MB of RAM (double the 256MB RAM in the original iPad) and some seriously souped-up graphics capabilities.\r\n\r\nBetter speaker: The new iPad is reportedly in line for an improved, “wide-ranged” speaker, with the more prominent speaker grille said to be sitting right where the current three-hole speaker on the first iPad lives. Or so they say.\r\n\r\nNo SD card: An SD (or microSD) card slot on the next iPad would allow for easy memory expansion and speedy photo uploading. It’s a nice idea, but early buzz on Apple adding an SD card slot to the iPad has given way to near-universal agreement that it won’t actually happen. Bummer.\r\n\r\nNo 4G support: Not on VerizonÂ Wireless, at least, according to the Wall Street Journal, which adds that the 3G version of the iPad 2 will be available through AT&T and Verizon but not Sprint or T-Mobile.\r\n\r\nSource: yahoonews, W3
\r\n\r\nNo one will ever accuse Apple of being a bargain brand, but the company’s iPad tablet may prove to be more affordable than the first generation of Android slates, particularly the Dell Streak and Samsung Galaxy Tab.Apple, a boon for bargain hunters? It’s true if your new Android tablet is tied to a 3G data contract, a time-honored tactic (at least in the United States) that lowers the up-front cost of the device, but tethers the buyer to a pricey two-year wireless data plan.\r\n\r\nTake the Streak, for instance. With a two-year AT&T contract, Dell’s 5-inch tablet starts at $300. To get that price, however, you’ll need to ink a voice and data plan. At Dell’s site, the cheapest option is a $55 per month deal: 450 voice minutes for $40; and 200MB data for $15. That comes to $1620 for two years of Dell Streak usage: $1320 for the 3G plan; and $300 for the tablet.\r\n\r\nDon’t want a 3G contract? In that case, the Streak costs $550. Shockingly, that’s $50 more than the 16GB (Wi-Fi-only) iPad.\r\n\r\nWhich would you rather buy? Of course, the Apple and Dell slates are very different beasts. Arguably, the Streak is more of a freakishly large smartphone than a tablet. It has two cameras. The iPad has none, although that’s likely to change soon. Given a choice, most people would opt for the iPad, with its elegant design and larger display, over the relatively clunky Streak–which happens to cost more.\r\n\r\nTo be fair, let’s price the iPad with 3G service. (It’s important to note that you’re not tethered to a long-term contract with the iPad. You can cancel AT&T’s 3G service at any time.) The 16GB iPad with Wi-Fi + 3G costs $629 up front–more than twice the Streak’s price. AT&T charges $15 per month for 250MB of data. So over two years, the least you’d pay for an iPad with 3G service is $989. (That’s $629 for the device, plus $360 for 24 months of AT&T.)\r\n\r\nThe Dell Streak cost $631 more to operate over two years than the iPad. Of course, you could cut costs by using the Streak as a cell phone too. But with its 5-inch display, the gargantuan Streak is awfully big for a phone.\r\n\r\nGalaxy Mystery\r\n\r\nThe first Samsung Galaxy Tab models will include both 3G and Wi-Fi. They’ll be offered by all four major U.S. wireless carriers, none of which has announced pricing details at this time. Industry watchers expect the subsidized units to sell for around $300, however.\r\n\r\nIf you want a Galaxy Tab with Wi-Fi only, there’s good and bad news. The good is that Samsung plans to release a Wi-Fi only model; the bad is that it won’t say when.\r\n\r\nWhile every business is different, it’s safe to say that many companies would choose a Wi-Fi-only tablet over a 3G/Wi-Fi model, particularly if the 3G option requires a long-term data contract. Some remote employees such as salespeople might benefit from 3G service, but tablet-toting workers in an office or industrial setting would function just as well with Wi-Fi.\r\n\r\nGiven the large number of Android tablets on the horizon, the Wi-Fi-only option will almost certainly become a standard option soon. But for now, Apple’s iPad pricing is impressively affordable relative to its Android competitors. Who would’ve known?
\r\n\r\nVLC is a free and open source cross-platform multimedia player and framework, that plays most multimedias files and various streaming protocols.Â It is simple to use, yet very powerful and extendable.\r\nVLC has all codecs built-in. It comes with support for nearly all codec there is. And what is more it can even play back the file or media if it is damaged! Missing or broken pieces are no stop to VLC, it plays all the video and audio information that’s still intact.\r\n\r\nVLC has come to the iPad, adding playback support for media formats that were previously unplayable on Apple devices. Without hardware acceleration, however, you’re going to run into playback issues. Here are your best bets for optimal playback.\r\n\r\nï»¿\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nOut of the starting gates, VLC Media Player for iPad is a little buggy, doesn’t play back HD content too well, but is still very, very welcome. The interface is pretty slick, and copying your media files through iTunes is simple enough. While some formats aren’t supported (RealMedia, FLV, etc.), many new ones are (AVI, MPG, MKV, etc.). Let’s take a look at getting your media files into VLC and which files it’ll handle best.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nAdding files is pretty straightforward. Hook your iPad up to iTunes, choose it from the sidebar, click the “Apps” tab, and scroll down to the “File Sharing” section. From there you can choose VLC and add files through drag-and-drop or the “Add…” button. As soon as you do, iTunes will start copying the files over to VLC and you’ll be able to use them immediately after it finishes.\r\n
\r\n\r\n\r\nThe problems come when you start copying supported files and VLC crashes or simply can’t handle the work you’re throwing at it. This is a shortcoming of the iPad more than VLC, as the iPad is really only designed to play back MPEG4/H.264 encoded to Apple’s specifications. VLC doesn’t seem to take advantage of the iPad’s MPEG/H.264 hardware acceleration, and so HD files tend to be unwatchable and may cause crashes. VLC is, at least, kind enough to warn you when you’re trying to throw a file at it that your iPad can’t handle.\r\n
\r\nDetermining what you can play backÂ well is a little difficult, since it’s mostly trial and error. VLC will let you know when it thinks you’re pushing the limits, but often files that it thinks it can play don’t look so great. So what do you do?\r\n\r\nWe’ve played around with VLC for iPad a bit and have found that most standard definition files work alright. For the most part,Â your best bet is standard definition AVI files using DiVX. Even at higher bit rates (about 2500kbps), DiVX AVIs seemed to play back smoothly and scrubbing wasn’t an issue. This is great news for BitTorrenters, as most TV shows are already encoded as DiVX AVI and are already optimal for iPad playback in VLC.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIf you want HD on your iPad, VLC will get you half-way there. While 720p DiVX AVI video stuttered quite a bit, the same video encoded at about 3000kbps at 960×540 worked just fine. Since 960×540 is the recommended resolution for your iPad’s video anyway, it’s a good target for your HD content.\r\n\r\nVLC is available now on iTunes, absolutely free.Â VLC Media Player