"This is the one to beat," said Walt Mossberg of Apple's iPad 2, which will make its retail debut in Apple (AAPL) stores and online Friday.

BOTTOM LINE
The Good Double the speed, 2/3 the thickness, and added cameras--all for the same price

The Bad Camera quality mediocre, battery life slightly less than original

The Wall Street Journal Personal Technology Columnist said he considers this to be the best tablet available at the moment, particularly as Apple maintained the same price points on the device.

Check out more tech reviews by Walt Mossberg on FOX Business

Apple's latest iteration of its popular tablet doubles the processing power, offers nine times the graphic performance, and cuts its thickness and weight down significantly.  Models, available in Black or White, start at $499 and are available in WiFi-only, on AT&T 3G, and on Verizon 3G.  The iPad 2 also adds front- and rear-facing video cameras.

Mossberg said Apple already leads in the tablet market and while a number of competitors have come out with devices aiming to challenge the iPad's dominance, the iPad 2 has made it even harder for them as it keeps the same battery life of 10 hours as well as its big lead in apps, with 65,000 oriented just for the tablet (as opposed to apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch).

That said, Mossberg doesn't expect current iPad users to drop their tablets and rush into stores grabbing the latest version.  “I don't think you would need to rush out and get this new one.  However, remember most people don’t have any tablet so there's an enormous addressable market of people."

But for users who consider video calls and video recording to be important features, they may want to upgrade, he added.

Asked about what Apple would need to add to a successful iPad 3, Mossberg said, "one thing they clearly will have to do is build one that takes advantage of the 4G cell phone networks and they say the chips aren't really ready for that --some other companies disagree, but we'll see."

For now, though, he would advise anyone first in the market to buy a tablet to go for the iPad 2.

Mossberg points out in his Wall Street Journal column that the tablet isn’t perfect, however.  He was critical of quality of the cameras, calling the photos “mediocre” and saying that Apple won’t specify the megapixel ratings on them.  But they were “good enough” for HD video recording and “satisfying video calling.”

In Mossberg’s battery-life tests, he said he found its life of 10 hours and nine minutes to be less than the first iPad, which tested at 11.5 hours.  Still, he points out, it’s 2.5 hours better than that of the Android-powered Motorola Xoom tablet.