Wrong, wrong, wrong. I was wrong last week in predicting that the Apple iPod 2 would not be a major redesign, but just offer some tweaks and the addition of a camera.

 

Also, I surmised, with many other gear watchers, that it would lack that major development advantage that comes of ultimate control being held by someone who tends to be on the money as to what consumers will crave, including features they did not know they would like but will embrace on sight.

 

Looks as if Steve Jobs was involved in the process enough to make it cool where it should be cool, and really hot where it needs to be totally sexy.

 

I wasnít pining for an iPad. But I positively lust after an iPad 2. However, I feel the same way about a Motorola XOOM.

 

Watching the iPad 2 unveiling video, I was distracted by Jobsí appearance. As bad as he looked a couple of years ago, now he looks even worse. Concentration camp bad. But he was alert and even somewhat energetic, and his voice crackled with enthusiasm, and he handled the demo beautifully. His shoes were differentónot sure why the camera zoomed in on his feetóbut he dressed about the same as ever. For a guy about a foot wide and half a foot thick, and fairly tall, he moved well.

 

Next time through I paid more attention to the product. Two cameras! Faster response. Better processor. Enhanced resolution. Like Jobs, much thinner, but not in a scary way. And that integral SmartCover, in more colors than the fruit-colored iMacs came in!

 

Whatís not to like? Well, for some customers, the deal they got maybe a month ago. They bought iPad 1 models at the prevailing prices, and were not told the new models would be out within weeks at the same prices. NOW those iPad 1 models are being discounted, but recent purchasers have not been offered rebates, last I heard. That doesnít seem fair.

 

What is the main competition for the iPad 2? The Motorola XOOM. But itís hard to do comparisons. The iPad 2 runs on iOS 4.3, which is a walled, closed platform. The XOOM runs on Android Honeycomb, which is open all the way. Android supports Flash, but the iPod has a slick user interface and a new Nitro JS engine.

 

The iPad boasts AirPlay and multitasking, and decent app management. And lots and lots of apps.

 

iPad 2 is noticeably lighter. The version without 3G weighs 613 grams, while the XOOM weighs about 130 g more.

 

XOOM has a 10-inch screen with a 16:10 aspect, and 1280x800 pixels of resolution. iPad 2 still has a 9.7-inch display with 1023x768 resolution. That means XOOM can deliver movies in normal aspect, but iPad 2 needs to resize them.

 

Jobs said iPad 2ís processor is a dual core one and says it is nine times more powerful than the iPad 1 chip. Itís called the Apple A5. Okay, whatever. Apple is secretive about such things. Motorolaís XOOM is powered by the Nvidia Tegra 2 dual core chip, which is based on the Cortex A9. Both tabletsí processors clock at 1 GHz.

 

How much RAM does iPad 2 have? Dunno. But XOOM comes with 1 GB. As for storage, iPad 2 offers 16, 32 or 64 GB, depending on the model you buy. There is no expansion capability. XOOM comes with 32 GB and a microSD slot which would allow expansion at least to 64.

 

XOOM and iPad 2 come with GPS,Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but XOOM also has USB. HDMI is built-in, but iPad 2 needs an adaptor.

 

XOOM has a 5-megapixel camera at the back, with flash, and a 2-meg one at the front. iPad 2 has front and back cameras on the iPad Touch, a VGA one in the front and a HD-ready one at the back.

 

Apple has improved battery life in the second iteration of its tablet, claiming nine hours in 3G mode, somewhat more not using 3G. XOOM will bunny along for 10 hours playing videos and browsing, and up to 14 hours with Wi-Fi off.

 

Check for prices as many places as you can. XOOM is competitive but not exactly cheap. iPad 2 starts at $500. XOOM is about $600 with a carrier agreement.

 

It will be fun to watch the price and feature wars, and will pay to wait a while, if we can stand it.