Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled iPad 2 Wednesday, heating up the computer tablet market, with a faster, thinner model that boasts more features than its original. The second-generation of the touch-screen tablet computer has two cameras for taking photos, recording video and video chats, and is thinner at 8.8 millimeters than its competitors and works at faster speeds.

The iPad can be connected to the television to watch high-definition videos, with a $39 add-on accessory. New software is also available for the iPad that will make for easier video editing on the device, with a $4.99 version of iMovie. Battery life will stay the same, running about 10 hours.

The iPad will cost the same as its original, $499 to $829, depending on whether you connect it to the Internet over a cellular network or use wireless. The iPad 2 goes on sale March 11 and works on AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless.

iPads are expected to make up at least 20 million of the 24.1 million tablet computers people will buy in the U.S. this year, according to Sarah Rotman Epps, a Forrester Research analyst.

While tablet computers have long existed, the iPad reinvented the device by simplifying the software and redesigning a sleek version of it. About 15 million iPads sold in nine months of its original debut.

Plenty of competitors have entered into the tablet competition since, including Dell Inc. and Samsung versions of tablets that debuted last year but have not garnered as much success. Motorola’s Xoom, which runs on Google’s Android software, went on sale in February and is expected to be the iPad’s chief competitor.

Also on Wednesday, Apple announced updates to the software that runs on the iPad, iPhone, and iPod (iOS 4.3) that will turn iPhones and iPads with 3G cellular connections into personal Wi-Fi hotspots, allowing you to share the Wi-Fi connection with computers or other devices, if the wireless carrier allows it and often for extra fees.

Source: “Apple’s Jobs, on Medical Leave, Unveils Faster, Thinner iPad, Just as Tablet Rivals Emerge,” Associated Press (March 2, 2011)