The New iPad Review

Introduction

Even though I am about two weeks behind on the new iPad review, I am sure that many of you had heard or seen another frenzy over the release of the third-generation iPad months and weeks prior to March 16, 2012.

From the consumer consensus I’ve read so far, it appears that the new iPad came out with another winning sequel to iPad2.  Several improvements contributed to the success of this release such as Retina Display, A5X chip processor, iSight camera, HD video recording, Voice Dictation and 4G LTE wireless connection.

Many people debated over whether this iPad was a result of innovation or just improvement.  I have to say, in my humble opinion, it’s more of leveraging the same technology from the iPhone 4S to the new iPad.

Instead of following the usual review template, I’d like to focus on how Apple applies the same technology/features to the third generation of iPad and the benefits for you as a consumer.

Table of Contents (click a title to jump ahead)

Introduction | Retina Display | A5X Chip | iSignt Camera | HD Video | Voice Dictation | 4G LTE | Storage & Battery | Pros | Cons | Consumer Rating | Verdict | Price | Warranty | Where to Buy |

the-new-ipadRetina Display

The most prominent new feature in the new iPad touted by Apple during its Keynote is the Retina Display.  So what is Retina Display and why is it so important to you?

Retina Display was first introduced by Steve Jobs during the release of iPhone4 in April 2011.  According to Wikipedia.com the human retina can perceive approximately 300 pixels per inch (PPI) at a distance of 12 inches from one’s eyes.  Since iPhone4 has a screen with a pixel density of 326 pixels per inch, hence, the Retina Display.

By this definition, the iPad 3 display screen is close to be qualified to have “Retina Display” with 264 PPI.  This iPad has a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels, which is 3.1 million pixels (=2048 x 1536) in a 9.7’ screen display.  The new iPad delivers four times more pixels than iPad2. 

Resolution is used to describe the number of pixels or dots to display an image.  The more pixels or dots an image has, the better quality, the less pixelation.

To give you another perspective, the HDTV we have at home has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 on a much bigger screen size, say 50’ inch or bigger.  If we do the math correctly, it only renders 2 million pixels.

So the benefit of having a Retina Display and better resolution is that you will be seeing a sharper image, more vibrant colors and crisper text, whether looking at a picture of your little girl jumping on a trampoline, reading an email from a girlfriend or thumbing through a graphic-rich magazine.

A5X Chip Quad-core Graphics

It is terrific to have the exceptional graphic display.  But does it compromise the speed and performance of the processor?  Apple had the foresight of our question.  An A5X chip quad-core graphics was designed to drive the Retina Display and to deliver four times of the pixels without slowing down the processor.

Therefore you won’t be experiencing more waiting time for an image to download or a web page to open up.

iSight Camera

One of the enhancements in iPad2 was the addition of two cameras.  The front-facing one is for FaceTime or video chat; the one on the back of the iPad for picture-taking. 

One of the major complaints by iPad enthusiasts was the poor quality of the cameras in the iPad2.  The concern was addressed in this new release by upgrading the back-facing camera (aka the iSight camera) to a 5 megapixel camera from the 1 mega pixel in the iPad2.  It is still not good as the camera in the iPhone 4S with 8 megapixel resolution, but it is much better nonetheless.

ipad3-cameraIn addition, several ancillary features were also included in the camera such as auto-focus, auto-face detection and auto exposure. So if you do use your iPad to take pictures, you will notice the ease and much better quality of the photos unlike those grainy ones in iPad2.

But how realistic is it for you and me to take pictures with our iPad?  I think it will look silly to hold up an iPad to take pictures.  iPhone would be much suited for that.  I do appreciate Apple’s gesture in taking consumer’s feedback to heart and doing something about it.

HD Video Recording

Once again this is another classic example of how Apple leverages its technology across the iProducts.

HD video recording is among the new features in the new iPad with 1080 resolution.  For some amateurs like me out there, we all know how shaky our hands can get when shooting a video.  Fret not.  Apple added the image stabilization functionality to the video recording with a good quality camera.

If it’s low light, no sweat. The temporal noise reduction ensures you to take great videos so you can capture the grin on your boyfriend’s face, a lady bug on the tree limb and all other minute details in between.

Similar to my comment about the camera, how often would you take your newest iPad to the sandy beach while the kids are building a sand castle? Maybe or maybe not. 

Voice Dictation

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Voice Dictation in the iPad3 is similar to Siri in the iPhone 4S with a lighter version of the functionality..  A microphone key was added to the lower left hand corner in the keyboard.  It currently supports 4 languages, i.e. English (American, British and Australian), French, German and Japanese.

Remember in the old days when the big boss had the secretary dictate a memo or a business letter?  This is the same function, but by using technology instead of a secretary.  If you are so inclined, you can speak to your iPad3 with a reply to an email or have it dictate an entire thriller novel from end to end. You may have to edit the draft of your email or novel to ensure the accuracy of the dictation.

4G LTE Wireless Technology

It has long been anticipated that the new generation iPad will adopt the next generation wireless technology such as 4G LTE (long-term evolution).  It is indeed the case.

For those of you who are not familiar with the terminology in wireless technology, EV-DO stands for Evolution-Data Optimized or Evolution-Data Only. EV-DO represents a telecom standard for transmitting data wireless via radio signals, more often than not for broadband Internet access.

ipad3-4g-lteLTE stands for Long Term Evolution. This is an upgrade from the previous standard for wireless communication with increased speed for mobile phones and data terminals.

In the iPad 3 Keynote speech, Apple’s executive, Phil Schiller, demoed two real-life examples side by side, one with 3G EV-DO (with a downlink of 3.1 mega bits per second) and the other 4G LTE (73 mega bits per second). 

When opening an email with multiple embedded pictures, the one with 4G LTE connection downloaded two to three pictures before the 3G one barely with the first one. 

In video streaming, the difference was even more pronounced.  You could barely notice the buffering time with the 4G LTE connection while the 3G one took its sweet time to stream the video.  I can attest to the slowness in buffering as I watch videos quite often on my iPad2.

If you watch a lot of videos on YouTube or Vimeo, this feature alone maybe sway you to upgrade to iPad3.

Storage and Battery Life

We all know the battery life is one of the differentiating factors in the tablet market.  You might wonder about the impact on the battery life in iPad3 with all the enhanced features.  In fact, the battery life remains to be up to 10 hours on Wi-Fi; up to 9 hours using cellular data network.

As far as storage goes, the new iPad tablet has on-device storage from 16GB up to 64GB.  For most people, 16GB to 32GB is more than enough.  Remember the more storage it has, the higher price tag.

Pros

This iPad3 definitely offers us a few improved features in terms of viewing pleasure in the screen display as well as the speed of rendering images and text.  A better camera and HD video are nice-to-have. The A5X chip quad-core processor enables the rendering of the pixel-dense display without compromising the speed.  To top off all that, the 4G LTE wireless technology makes downloading large image and video files a breeze.

Cons

One of the major complaints is the overheating temperature when playing certain graphic-intense games. Some reported that the new iPad runs about 13 degrees (Fahrenheit) hotter than iPad2.  Even though itt is not hot enough to burn the skin, but it’s fairly close to (120 degrees).

Consumer Rating

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It is still too early to gather any measurable consumer feeback as people have barely received their new iPads.  I’ll make sure to update my review in the near future as more consumer reviews become available.

The Verdict

I have to confess that I am not the one who would camp out overnight in front of an Apple store to get my hands on the newest and hottest gadget.  I tend to be more conservative in my purchase.  I’d like to wait for a few months and let them fix all the bugs, smooth out all the kinks before I consider buying one.  Plus, I am perfectly happy with my iPad2 right now, granted that I don’t own the new iPad yet.

My advice is that if you own the iPad2, you should hold off buying the new iPad as the basic features and functionality are the same.  The new Apple iPad just offers some enhanced features.  Unless money is no object to you, I wouldn’t spend $499 on some incremental improvements.

If you own iPad1 or the original iPad, maybe it makes sense for you to upgrade to the new iPad.  I would still wait for a few months until the fever dies down and let Apple fix all the issues such as the overheating one.

Having said all of the above, the new iPad is still by far the “Rolls-Royce” in the table PC market.  For now, I wouldn’t trade my iPad for another brand of tablet.

Price

Most people were expecting a price hike with the new added features.  We were all pleasantly surprised that Apple has kept the price the same as $499 16GB Wi-Fi model.  As a matter of fact, it also reduced the price for iPad2 to be $399 16GB Wi-Fi.

Of course, if you want the best and the greatest, you are expected to pay $829 for 64GB, Wi-Fi 4G.  I am including a price summary below for your convenience.

For Wi-Fi Models

a)      16 GB Storage Capacity – $499 +

b)      32 GB Storage Capacity – $599 +

c)       64 GB Storage Capacity – $699 +

For Wi-Fi + 4G Models

a)      16 GB Storage Capacity – $629 +

b)      32 GB Storage Capacity – $729 +

c)       64 GB Storage Capacity – $829 +

Warranty

The same standard warranty applies.

Where to Buy the New iPad?

The new iPad is available in 33 countries with two releases on March 16 and 23, 2012. Some of the countries are:

  • US
  • Canada
  • UK
  • France
  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • Japan
  • Hong Kong
  • Singapore
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Spain
  • Mexico
  • So on…

The best place to shop for the new iPad is through Amazon.com.  Not only can you read actual customer reviews, you can also shop for the best price and best service from multiple merchants.

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