We’ve heard the news, now we’ve got hands-on pics of the brand-spanking new iPad 2 from the event in London.

After sitting through almost an hour and 20 minutes of a presentation from Apple’s top brass, we’ve managed to get an ever-so quick hands-on with the super-thin device, in order to bring you an initial batch of live pics before settling in for a longer play later tonight.

The crux of it is that it's the same as the iPad, but thinner, lighter and noticeably faster than the first outing, released in the UK just 10 months ago.

Actual specs include a new A5 chip that is dual-core (twice the speed of the original's CPU speed apparently) and a new graphics engine that is 9x faster.

It also has the same 10-hour battery life as the original despite being 33 per cent thinner at 8.8mm (thinner than an iPhone 4) and weighing 0.2lb less at 1.3lbs (0.68kg).

And yes, it does pack two cameras; one at the front and one at the back. Plus, guess what? It'll be available in black and white - from day one. Yay!

In our brief play we jumped on FaceTime - which was good (we would love to see Skype support for the camera though) and had a quick play with PhotoBooth too.

PhotoBooth is like HTC’s SnapBooth (or whatever it’s called), and is a rather pointless affair that you’ll use for around 10 minutes before never touching again.

When you’re done with the device itself you’ll be ecstatic about the new Smart Cover. It’s Smart because it uses magnets, and it's a cover because it only protects the screen not the back of the device.

Copying a trick by RIM some decades ago (they used a magnet for a belt clip - how retro) the case, which Steve Jobs tells us is made from space suits, goes some way to protecting the device, but not all of it. It will be interesting to see whether this can withstand the rigour of your bag.

If that all sounds a bit downbeat, it shouldn’t be. It’s still looking like a cracking device that the other tablets of this world - from HTC, Samsung, Motorola and RIM - will struggle to take on. It is, though, a device that so far looks to slightly refine the first outing, rather than be the second coming the Apple faithful were perhaps calling for.

Sometimes the rumour mill can be just as damaging as they can be helpful when it comes to generating buzz.

The pricing will match what is currently on offer with the original iPad. It'll start shipping on 11 March in the US and 25 March in 26 more countries including the UK.

UPDATE: Following a much longer play with the new tablet from Apple we've posted a First Look of the new Apple iPad 2.