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The iPad 2 is the second iteration of the most successful tablet computer in history, and sales are expected to be high. Apple loyalists, tech aficionados, and anyone else who could not wait for online delivery will be lining up at the company’s retail outlets across the country.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty big day for the Apple Stores,’’ said Van Baker, an analyst atGartner Inc. in San Jose, Calif. “I think it will create a lot of noise.’’

The second-generation device is thinner and lighter than the original and adds a more powerful dual-core processor chip, making it twice as fast. The iPad 2 also boasts front- and rear-facing digital cameras, but will sell for the same prices as its less-powerful predecessors, ranging from $499 to $829. The original iPad’s price will drop, as well.

One of the most intriguing new features is not inside the iPad 2, but on the outside. The new Smart Cover doubles as a screen protector, folding up to serve as a video or keyboard stand. It also secures itself in place magnetically and comes in a variety of colors.

In front of the Apple Store at the South Shore Plaza yesterday, shoppers were eager for the new device.

“I am going to buy one. I had the original. I bought it right on the 12th of February, and they actually took it back for me because I only had it a couple weeks,’’ said Christina Aakar, 43, of Milton, who works in health care.

Jean Michel, 40, of Randolph, bought his original iPad earlier and won’t be able to swap it for an upgrade.

“It’s an amazing machine. I own the original one, unfortunately, but I really like it,’’ Michel said. “Maybe I’ll buy the new one in a while.’’

Not everyone is going to make the leap, however. Loyal iPhone 4 user Neal Santangelo, 61, of Braintree, said the smartphone is enough technology for him. “It’s like having my laptop in my pocket,’’ Santangelo said.

The iPad 2 also raises the bar for gamers.

The powerful new processor and on-board cameras will allow developers of iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch games to make more complex and more interactive titles.

Apple did not return calls yesterday seeking comment. Employees at the Apple Store said they were prohibited from talking to the news media yesterday.

According to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and eReader Tracker, original iPads accounted for 83 percent of tablets sold in 2010, with more than 7 million selling in the fourth quarter alone.

Apple’s chief executive, Steve Jobs, unveiled the iPad 2 on March 2, less than a week after Motorola Mobility Inc. offered its long-awaited Xoom tablet, the most advanced iPad competitor so far.

The Xoom matches some of the iPad 2’s new features but is priced at $800 — more than what five of the six new iPad 2 configurations cost.

“That’s going to relegate it to a very nichey segment,’’ Baker said. “We’re struggling to figure out how the other guys are going to get any traction.’’

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