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The iPad 2 will be released Friday at 5 p.m., and you’re no doubt wondering whether it’s worth ditching work to get in line. Fortunately the initial reviews of the device are out this morning to better inform this momentous decision.

Walt Mossberg, Wall Street Journal: “Its improvements, including front and rear cameras, outweigh the few drawbacks and feature omissions I found. For most average, nontechie users, I would recommend it over the handful of tablet competitors I’ve tested so far, especially given that the entry price remains attractive.” [Full Review]

John Gruber, Daring Fireball: “It is a refinement of the original iPad — an impressive one, in several ways, considering that it arrives just 11 months after the original. But it is in no way a radical or significant departure from last year’s model. The fact is, Apple got it right with the iPad 1 in almost every way, and the iPad 2 reflects that. If you didn’t like the original iPad, you’re not going to like the iPad 2. If you liked the original iPad, you’re going to like the iPad 2 even better.” [Full Review]

Donald Bell, CNet The second-generation iPad from Apple is thinner, faster, lighter, and whiter, but not a radical departure from the original. You can’t blame Apple for going easy on new features. … Apple’s original recipe for the iPad single-handedly created and captured the demand for tablets last year. By any measure, it is not a product in need of fixing. It has the market share, it has the developers, and it has the momentum. [Full Review]

Ed Baig, USA Today: Pros: “Thinner and lighter design. Fast with souped-up graphics. Front and rear cameras for FaceTime video chat and other uses. By far the most apps. Excellent battery life. Nice screen. Software iOS 4.3 lets you stream over home network. Video “mirroring” (with accessories). … Cons: No Adobe Flash support means some Web videos won’t play. Requires accessories for HDMI, USB and SD. AirPlay feature sometimes hiccupped.” [Full Review]

Joshua Topolsky, Engadget: “For owners of the previous generation, we don’t think Apple’s put a fire under you to upgrade. Unless you absolutely need cameras on your tablet, you’ve still got a solid piece of gear that reaps plenty of the benefits of the latest OS and apps. For those of you who haven’t yet made the leap, feel free to take a deep breath and dive in — the iPad 2 is as good as it gets right now. And it’s really quite good.” [Full Review]

David Pogue, New York Times: “On paper, Apple didn’t do much. It just made the iPad one-third thinner, 15 percent lighter and twice as fast. There are no new features except two cameras and a gyroscope. I mean, yawn, right? And then you start playing with it. My friends, I’m telling you: just that much improvement in thinness, weight and speed transforms the experience.” [Full Review]

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