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Apple‘s new iPad 2 goes on sale across America at 10.00pm UK time, but online pre-orders have already begun.

The firm has said that it sold more than 300,000 of the original iPad on the day it launched less than a year ago. Reviews for the new version have been admiring, but all say that the device is evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

With iPad 1 selling more than 15 million in its first nine months on sale, including 7.3 million to holiday shoppers during the October-December quarter, analysts do not expect this new product to attract the same level of excitement, but expect sales to be impressive nonetheless.

The new iPad model comes with several improvements over the original version but the same price tag — $499 to $829, depending on storage space and whether they can connect to the Internet over a mobile network. The iPad 2 is, however, significantly faster, slimmer and lighter, and now includes two cameras for video calling and photographs.

Since the launch of the iPad, competitors including Dell and Samsung have been trying to lure consumers with smaller tablets, without much success. In February, Motorola’s Xoom, however, went on sale with a new version of Google Inc.‘s Android software that was designed for tablets, not smart phones. Although it is more expensive, the Xoom is seen as the first credible rival to Apple’s iPad. Samsung recently conceded that many of the 2 million Galaxy Tab 7” tablets it has shipped remain unsold.