There’s nothing radically different about Apple’s latest iPad, which went on sale in Taiwan two weeks ago. But a few upgrades and new features are keeping this tablet computer at the top of the heap.
Two things stand out on the “new iPad” (Apple has officially avoided calling it “iPad 3”). It’s faster, thanks in part to a slightly upgraded processor and added RAM memory (1 gigabyte from 512MB). You’ll notice this clearly when surfing the Web, as pages load quicker in Safari in comparison to the previous iPads, especially the first generation model. In general, apps feel snappier and as silky smooth as ever, thanks to iOS, the solid operating system software that powers the iPad and iPhone.
But the show-stealer on the new iPad is its bright, crystal-sharp “retina” display. Apple describing the new iPad as “resolutionary” on its Web site may have certainly been cringe-inducing, but the 2048-pixel-by-1536-pixel resolution screen is indeed fantastic.
If you have an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S, you are already familiar with the retina screen that is being touted on the new iPad. Put your face close up to the screen and you won’t see be able to the jagged dots that make up text and images as you would on most computing devices. The colors are vibrant and pop out at you, which are especially evident when viewing photos and high definition videos (the new iPad supports 1080p).
This screen is a boon for those who read a lot on an iPad. The text is crisp and pin-sharp rather than “computer like,” with a print-like quality. I would like to think that my eyes don’t get as tired when I read for long periods of time on the new iPad compared to the first generation model, but maybe I’m still wowed with the display. But it is safe to say that the screen is the best around on any computing device at the moment.
However, none of this means you need to run out and get one, especially if you have the iPad 2. The speed bump on the new iPad makes it noticeably faster, but the iPad 2’s speed and screen quality are still very respectable. So if the model’s screen doesn’t do it for you, then stick with the iPad 2.
Size-wise, the difference is negligible. The second and third generation iPads look virtually identical — the new iPad is a tad bit heavier, at 652g vs 601g for the WiFi models, but barely enough for you to notice. And it’s even a hair thicker, by 0.6mm. The reason for this is to make room for a bigger battery in order to support the power-hungry retina screen.
As for the first iPad, an upgrade might be in order if you’re into graphics-intensive games, which usually require maximum processing power. But if you’re an occasional user who just browses the Internet for a few hours a day, then there’s no point in getting the new iPad.
Of course, Apple is doing its utmost to convince us that we want the latest and greatest. So what might sway us to the new iPad other than speed and the best screen around?
The new iPad’s 5 megapixel camera with 1080p video recording offers a significant leap in quality over the fuzzy shot-producing lens of the iPad 2. I found photos taken on the new iPad to be just as good as the photos on the iPhone 4, which is no surprise, since it also has a 5 megapixel camera. The camera app loads faster than that of the iPhone 4, but it’s hard to imagine doing a lot of serious or even casual photography with a metal slab the size of a large book. As for the more practical front-facing camera, the new iPad still has the 0.3 megapixel version found on iPad 2. It does the job very well for video chats on Facetime, but I would rather seen this camera upgraded instead.