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iPad 2 System Configurations and Prices

On March 11th, Apple will release 18 different iPad 2 hardware configurations, including a 16GB ($499.00), 32GB ($599.00) and 64GB ($699.00) iPad 2 with a Wi-Fi only configuration, available in a black, as well as white housing.

The iPad 2 with Wi-Fi + 3G will also be available in a 16GB ($629.00), 32GB ($729.00) and 64GB ($829.00) configuration. Customers will need to choose between a black or white housing, plus select either AT&T Wireless or Verizon as their exclusive 3G service provider.

Keep in mind that an iPad 2 with Wi-Fi + 3G that is designed for the AT&T Wireless network is not compatible with the Verizon network, or vice versa. So, when you initially pick your hardware configuration and service provider, you're stuck with that service provider.

The good news, however, is that iPad 2 users can subscribe to a month-to-month service plan and are not tied to a two-year service contract with a costly early-termination clause.

In addition to the iPad 2 itself, if you opt for the Wi-Fi + 3G version of the tablet, you'll incur a monthly wireless web access fee, which will be based on your level of usage and which service provider you choose. Both AT&T Wireless and Version will offer several service plans for iPad 2 users. On the downside, a flat-rate and unlimited data plan is no longer available through AT&T Wireless, and will probably soon be discontinued by Verizon.

One-time expenses associated with the new iPad 2 include an optional Smart Cover (priced at $39.00 or $69.00), the optional HDMI video out cable ($39.00), and the optional two-year AppleCare protection ($79.00) .

The AppleCare plan includes unlimited in-person technical support at Apple Stores or by phone and extends the hardware coverage from 90-days to two years. This coverage, however, does not protect against water damage or theft, for example.

New iPad users will also most likely want to invest in a handful of downloadable apps for their new tablet. While some apps remain free, others cost between 99 cents and $9.99 (or more). For business people, "must have" apps include Pages (word processing), Numbers (spreadsheet), and Keynote (digital slide presentation software), which are now available from the App Store for $9.99 each.

iPad 2 will be available in the U.S. starting March 11th from all Apple Stores. Apple will also begin accepting online orders for the tablet through Apple.com and is offering free shipping. International distribution of iPad 2 kicks off on March 25th in more than 26 countries.

Each iPad 2 unit will include a Dock Connector to USB cable, 10W USB power adapter and printed documentation. An iPad 2, regardless of its configuration, will easily sync with either a Windows-based PC or Mac using Apple's free iTunes software.

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