The iPad is hands down, the most dominant tablet on the market right now, and is undoubtedly the second largest mobile release a year, bested only by itâ€™s smaller but just as coveted elder brother, the iPhone. The iPad 2 delivered on numerous fronts last year adding a second camera, dual core processor, some CDMA love, and managed to lose a little weight in the process. This yearâ€™s model however, has put on some weight in order to gain LTE, an upgraded GPU and camera, and what some describe as the best display on any mobile device â€“ ever. Is the new iPad worth the cost of admission for tablet seekers or those who already own last years? Read on to find out.
For most individuals, an iPad is an auto-buy if you are seeking a tablet and are already connected to Appleâ€™s iTunes ecosystem. You will have access to your iPhone apps (if you own an iPhone of course) and right now Apple offers the highest number of tablet specific applications of any of the major mobile platforms. Additionally, having a tablet section as a subdivision of the App Store makes it real easy to find applications that will take advantage of the real estate on your device. All this really means is that finding things to do with your new iPad will be a breeze and makes for a better experience then the competition at the moment. Since at this point, everyone knows what to expect regarding the iPad in general, it might be best to focus on the areas of change from last year.
The camera on the new iPad is the same kind used on the iPhone 4S, although it is capable of only five mega pixels. Donâ€™t let that fool you though. A capable shooter she is, showing much improvement over the iPad 2â€™s rear camera. The sample shots below show the clear difference in resolution and clarity.
As you can see from the two pictures, there is a clear benefit in upgrading to the new iPadâ€™s camera which took the photo on the right versus the iPad 2’s camera on the left. Video recording is also on par with what can be found on the iPhone 4s. This is great to have on board but as we have stated before, we have to question the practicality of using the iPad as your main video recorder or camera. While the camera is good, the overall size of the device would make for an uncomfortable experience, as could be said about any tablet. However, there is much to be enjoyed by having a large and rich screen to use and focus with. Additionally, with the recent upgrades to software like iMovie and iPhoto, those who want to work in â€œthe boxâ€ now donâ€™t have to worry about the camera being the bottleneck to good images and recordings. Overall, if you find yourself in the unique position of using your new iPad for the camera often, you will not be disappointed with this iteration.
The new iPad feels smooth and as responsive as you would expect. This unit is sporting Appleâ€™s customer A5x chip over last years A5. Both are dual core chips capable of handling CPU intensive programs. Over the course of using various apps, there was no slow down or lag. Safari handled multiple tabs with ease while music and video play back were smooth, and the games we tested ran well. At this point, we wouldnâ€™t expect anything less from Appleâ€™s tablet and itâ€™s not surprising considering just how well the iPad 2 performs under the same workload. Honestly, even with the improved processor, we didnâ€™t notice any real difference in performance, which just goes to show the quality the iPad 2 demonstrated and the consistency of the new iPad.
Ok, so itâ€™s clear from the keynote address and recent advertising that the main selling point of the new iPad is the screen. Frankly put, the screen is phenomenal and is easily the best on any tablet right now period. Pixels virtually cannot be seen at all, and with a week and half under itâ€™s belt, several applications such as Netflix, have now upgraded their resolutions to accommodate the new retina display. Colors look great and the difference is really appreciated when watching videos, looking at photos, or reading books and magazines. However, is it enough of a key factor to warrant an upgrade in itself. Well notice a recent, completely unscientific experiment at TheNextWeb.com. Several customers at an Apple store couldnâ€™t distinguish the iPad2 from the new iPad despite the retina display. Is this to say that the difference isnâ€™t immediately noticeable? No, not at all, however, it does call into question how much of a difference the screen makes and stands as a testament to how nice the iPad 2â€™s screen still is. See if you can tell a difference from the iPad 2 on the left versus the new iPad on the right. Regardless if you can or not on these photos, the retina display on the new iPad is the main reason to pick it up, and it makes a very compelling case.
At this point, most people have made up their mind as to what they are going to do. If they do not own an iPad presently, then this for all intents and purposes is the perfect device to bring home. The real conundrum is whether or not it is worth it for those who are iPad2 owners to make the upgrade. Well, that comes down to, as many have said, whether or not you have the money to spend on it. If you do, and you are not in need of satisfying your gadget lust on a different product, then you will be getting your moneyâ€™s worth solely in the screen. Other than that and the LTE connectivity, which unfortunately we werenâ€™t able to test since we had a WiFi model, there is little change under the hood. The GPU is a nice upgrade, although it will only really benefit the more graphic intensive users, which admittedly most iPad owners are not. It all comes back to the screen. The new iPad feels a lot like the equivalent of the iPhone 4S â€“ itâ€™s the best version of the product line, but it isnâ€™t all that too dissimilar from itâ€™s predecessor. Be that as it may, we think you will be happy with your purchase, and very happy with that screen.