Apparently, there are plenty people who experience problems with their iPad2 pertaining to the internal speaker. Specifically: the iPad refuses to play audio and the volume slider does not work. Thanks to some troubleshooting and help from the Apple support fora I've fixed our iPad.
A lot of people hypothesized that the problems are linked to the upgrade to iOS 5, or that you need to flip the hardware switch settings between "mute" and "rotation lock" a few times.
It's none of that. As forum member Val E Um notes, it's the dock connector: something is causing glitches, causing the iPad to think that it's dock-connected to external speakers. By wiggling a dock cable in the iPad I could make the volume slider appear and disappear. If I wedged the dock connector in at just the right angle, sound kept on working.
The solution: take an alcohol wipe, wrap it around a stiff piece of cardboard and scrape the dock connector on the iPad. Of course, first power down the iPad! After cleaning the dock connector, my sound problems are over :)
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