Reviews are in for Apple’s new iPad, and critics agree that a high-resolution display, a better camera, 4G LTE connectivity and bumped-up specs help the iPad maintain the title of the best tablet on the market. Reviewers had a week to test out the iPad before it goes on sale, and they picked apart every feature.
The new iPad looks almost identical to the iPad 2, Jason Snell notes in his Macworld review. He says the extra thickness on the new model is almost imperceptible, but the additional 50 grams it gained were noticeable. “Once you get a load of that Retina display, it's hard to go back to anything else,” Snell writes, but “users of the iPad 2 shouldn't fret: their iPad investment is certainly good for another year.”
“Since it launched in 2010, the iPad has been the best tablet on the planet,” Walt Mossberg concludes in his review for All Things D. “With the new, third-generation model, it still holds that crown,” he says, going on to recommend the new iPad as “best choice in a general-purpose tablet.” Mossberg didn’t find the weight gain noticeable even for long reading or video-watching sessions, as for the Retina display, his “epiphany came when I placed my iPad 2 next to the new model, with the same text on the screen. Letters and words that had seemed sharp on the older model five minutes earlier suddenly looked fuzzier.”
“The new iPad doesn’t introduce anything that we haven’t seen before, either in the iPhone or in rival tablets,” David Pogue notes in his New York Times review. “Apple just took its white-hot iPad and added the latest screen, battery and cellular technologies.” Pogue said, “For the same price as before, you can now get an updated iPad that’s still better-looking, better integrated and more consistently designed than any of its rivals.”
Although he thinks 10-inch tablets with rear cameras are a ridiculous idea, Joshua Topolsky mentions in his review for The Verge that the improved camera on the new iPad “will actually produce pretty favorable results.” “Thanks to that improved sensor, pictures you take on the iPad now look relatively respectable, with a depth of field shallow enough to pull off rather artistic looking images.” Topolsky loved the new iPad though and said it “is the most functional, usable, and beautiful tablet that any company has ever produced.”
Jim Dalrymple went beyond the specs in his new iPad review for The Loop, saying, “nobody in the market today can touch the Apple experience.” His highlights include seamless iCloud sync and AirPlay beaming onto the Apple TV, and of course, the high-resolution display, saying it “will make you do a double-take the first time you see it. Even on the home screen, it’s crisp and clear — you can notice a huge difference, even from the iPad 2.”
John Gruber tested a 64GB AT&T 4G LTE iPad in downtown San Francisco in his Daring Fireball review. He found the performance “easily as fast, perceptually, as a rock-solid Wi-Fi connection.” Battery life was solid, too, he writes: after two hours of Web and e-mail on LTE, “battery life was still measuring at over 80 percent capacity.” “What’s not to love? It’s that simple,” Gruber concludes.
Over at TechCrunch, MG Siegler was very enthusiastic about the new iPad in his review: “Technology is amazing, and this new iPad is amazing. Also amazing: the only company competing with Apple right now in this particular space is Apple.” “If you don’t yet have an iPad, get the new iPad,” he advises.
“If you're a tablet newbie, there's no better choice on the market than an iPad, provided — and this is a pretty big if — price isn't an issue and you don't want a tablet that would fit in your pocket, such as the $199 Amazon Kindle Fire,” is the advice coming from Ed Baig in his USA Today review, noting as cons the lack of Flash, a camera flash and no SD card slots.
It’s hard to find many negatives among the first new iPad reviews, and it looks like Vincent Nguyen nailed it in his review for SlashGear: “Apple doesn’t need another revolution, it has already started one, and the new iPad brings a fresh degree of refinement to a segment in which it is undoubtedly the king.”
Are you getting the new iPad, sticking to the iPad 2 for now, or considering an Android tablet? Sound off in the comments.
Apple packs a much larger battery into the new iPad, which becomes available for general sale today, in order to juice the tablet for up to ten hours of use, even with 4G LTE connectivity. iFixit took apart the new iPad , which is vastly improved on the inside, but looks almost identical to the iPad 2 on the outside.
The latest 4G LTE connectivity chips are well known for sucking up battery life faster than you can download an app, but this wouldn’t fly with the iPad, which Apple touts as offering some ten hours of battery life -- and an aspect competitors found hard to match. The third-generation iPad makes no exception to the ten-hour rule, even with 4G, and Apple’s secret recipe for this was torn apart by the iFixit crew.
The new iPad has a 42.5-watt-hour battery, compared to the 25-watt-hour Lithium-Ion battery found in the iPad 2. Inside, the new iPad is basically a giant battery, with the electronics neatly arranged around the side. The bigger battery is 3.7 volts and carries an estimated ten hours of use (nine on a cellular data network), which is comparable to that of the iPad 2. The extra 17.5 watt-hours are used to power the extra RAM (1GB) and the improved graphics chip.
The bigger battery and high-resolution Retina display have taken a toll on the thickness and weight of the new iPad though, which is 0.6mm thicker than the iPad 2 (reviewers said it’s unnoticeable) and 50 grams heavier. Chris Foresman at ArsTechnica calculates Apple increased the battery capacity by 70 percent with the new iPad, but the tablet is also 70 percent larger.
The third-generation Apple iPad is here, and we've tested it next to our best Android tablets--the Asus Transformer Prime TF201 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. While our tests of battery life and recharge times are still pending, a clear picture of this latest iPad is emerging. Put simply: The new iPad streaks to the head of the pack, largely on the strength of improvements to its display. But this doesn't mean that everyone else should abandon the race; it just means that they're going to have to work harder to overcome the iPad's lead.
In the comparison I'll be making here, I focus on the new iPad, the older iPad 2, and three recent and highly ranked 10.1-inch Android challengers: the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF201, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (for this review, we tested the 4G LTE version), and the Toshiba Excite 10 LE (formerly known as the Excite X10)--the thinnest and lightest tablet on the market, and one so new that it's still making its way through our testing. All three Android models here have 1280-by-800-pixel resolution, which means that their pixels-per-inch spec beats the iPad 2's, 150 ppi to 132 ppi.
For its part, the new iPad packs a gorgeous, high-resolution Retina display with 2048 by 1536 pixels, yielding a whopping 264 ppi--and yes, those pixels make a difference. A big difference.
Apple's new iPad is out of stock online, and so the only way to get one on launch day is to brave the iLines. This means waking up early, praying for good weather, and huddling with strangers for a few hours -- all so you can have the latest gadget before everyone else.
Still interested? Getting a new iPad on Friday won't be easy, but it can be done. Here's what you need to know before you head out the door.
New iPad Basics
The new iPad has a "retina" display with four times as many pixels as the iPad 2. Its A5X chip has the same dual-core processor as its predecessor, but it's got a quad-core graphics processor and, according to reports, 1GB of RAM. The rear-facing camera is now 5 megapixels, and features image stabilization, face detection, and auto-focus.
If you’ve been using an iPad—either the original model or an iPad 2—for a while, you’re likely well aware of the myriad accessories out there. But if the new iPad, which ships today, is your first, you may be wondering about the best accessories and add-ons.
We cover these products regularly, so we’ve got a good amount of experience here. The good news is that because the new iPad is nearly identical to the iPad 2, the market is already flush with compatible accessories. The bad news is that for the same reason, there are so many options that you may not know where to start. Here’s a quick list of the most-useful iPad accessories, some of our recommendations for each type, and links to our comprehensive buying guides to get more-detailed information.
Easily the most-popular iPad accessory, a good case keeps your iPad safe while traveling and protects it from accidental scrapes and drops during use. Some cases even include built-in stands to make it easier to watch videos or view photos hands-free. But beyond those basics, cases vary widely.
The iPad has been a remarkable success story. Apple sold 15 million of the original model in the first nine months of the product’s existence, a number that blew away even the most optimistic prognostications. With last year’s introduction of the iPad 2, things kept accelerating. In a little less than two years, Apple has sold roughly 60 million iPads, dominating the market it created.
Maintaining Apple’s lead in tablet devices is the job of the third-generation iPad, a product that doesn’t mess with success. Like the iPad 2 before it, this new iPad is not a re-thinking of the original concept. Instead, Apple has chosen to focus on a few areas of improvement while keeping the overall package the same. Though it’s an approach that can frustrate people who are disappointed by anything that’s not a quantum leap, Apple executes it to perfection and reaps the rewards.
In my review of the iPad 2, I suggested a rule of Apple product evolution I called “Jobs’s Law”—that the latest version of any Apple product is likely to be thinner and lighter than its predecessor. The third-generation iPad breaks that law. It’s actually slightly thicker and slightly heavier than the iPad 2, and in many cases users won’t perceive it to be faster.
But the changes Apple has wrought with this iPad aren’t about making it thinner or lighter or faster, but about making it better. And on nearly every front, the third-generation iPad is markedly better than its predecessor.
It’s all about the Retina
More power? Sort of.
The iPad 2 was much faster than the original iPad, thanks to its dual-core A5 processor. But the A5X processor that powers the third-generation iPad doesn’t really offer more processing power than its predecessor. In all our processor-based tests, the new iPad ran about as fast as the iPad 2. (Which is not to say it’s slow—they’re the two fastest iOS devices ever.)
With this update, Apple wasn’t as concerned about boosting the iPad’s speed even further, because it had another, bigger problem to solve: Boosting the iPad’s graphics capabilities so that it could update the 3.1 million pixels on its Retina display. (Keep in mind, previous iPad screens only had about 786,000 pixels.) Updating that many pixels requires a whole lot more graphics power just to keep things running as smoothly as before.
That power comes from the X factor in the A5X processor—a new quad-core graphics engine. And sure enough, the third-generation iPad blows away every other iOS device in terms of graphics performance. In our tests using the GLBench 3D graphics testing app, the third-generation iPad could draw a complex 3D scene at the full frame rate of its display, 60 frames per second, without breaking a sweat. And in GLBench offscreen tests, which aren’t constrained by the display’s frame rate, the third-generation iPad had a frame rate 1.6 times that of the iPad 2 (and 13 times that of the original iPad).
The original iPad didn’t have cameras. The iPad 2 added a low-resolution, front-facing camera for video chat and a rear camera with just enough resolution to shoot 720p video. That rear camera was, to put it bluntly, not very good. It was the weakest feature of the iPad 2, in fact.
The good news is, with the third-generation iPad, Apple has finally righted this wrong. Apple’s dusted off an old brand name (just as it did when the old iBook laptop became the new iBooks app) and applied it as a label to that camera: iSight. iSight, apparently, means “camera good enough to shoot photos and videos with.” And it is. It’s a five-megapixel camera, not quite on a par with the one in the iPhone 4S, but still quite good.
When I compared images from the new iPad’s iSight camera against test images taken by other mobile devices, I found that the new iPad’s camera fared quite well. It offered roughly the same image quality as the iPhone 4S and the Asus Transformer Prime, and clearly outdistanced both the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 and the iPad 2. It seems safe to say that the new iPad has the best camera of any tablet device, and among the best of any mobile device. Most notably, the quality of the 1080p video I shot with the new iPad was very good, even in low light.
For a company that likes to keep things simple, Apple has provided us with a whole bunch of options when it comes to buying the iPad. Just as with the iPad 2, the third-generation model comes in 18 different varieties. You can choose from:
16GB ($499), 32GB ($599), or 64GB ($699) of onboard storage
White or black bezel (no price difference)
Wi-Fi only, or Wi-Fi plus cellular on AT&T ($130 extra), or Wi-Fi plus cellular on Verizon ($130 extra)
In the past, I’ve told most people that 16GB is plenty of storage for most iPad users. But 16GB isn’t what it used to be. Apps updated to contain Retina-level graphics will balloon in size. HD video files are enormous. Those iBooks enhanced textbooks can be enormous. And shooting five-megapixel images and 1080p video will fill any remaining storage in a hurry.
I still think most buyers should start with the assumption that they’ll only need 16GB, but then they’ll need to ask themselves a few questions. Anyone who intends to load up with lots of HD movies, shoot videos, or install a whole lot of apps should seriously consider a larger capacity. But a lot of people just don’t use the iPad like that, and for them, 16GB will be fine.
Apple doesn't play the discount game. The company focuses on creating products that people want and then sets the price high enough to assure itself of a healthy profit. Over the past several years, the strategy has worked spectacularly, as millions of consumers have willingly emptied their wallets to acquire pricey MacBook Air laptops, iPads, and the like. We wonder, though: Might the new iPad break Apple's winning streak? After all, the third-gen iPad, though lovely, represents more of an incremental improvement than a full-blown overhaul of its predecessor. Given that the top-of-the-line new iPad, equipped with 64GB and 4G LTE wireless, runs $829, Apple could be testing the resolve (and the budgets) of even its deepest-pocketed fans.
If you're itching to spend all that dough, we wouldn't want to discourage you; the recovering U.S. economy can use all the positive signs of consumer confidence it can get. We would, however, suggest that you weigh a few alternative purchases before whipping out your credit card. Here are some of the things you can buy for approximately $829 (tax not included):
Throngs of tech enthusiasts, hoping to buy a new iPad on the first day of its release, will likely endure long lines at Apple Stores on Friday. And after unboxing the object of their desire, they'll immediately seek out apps that exploit the tablet's dazzling Retina display, which has a resolution of 2048 by 1536 pixels.
Well, there's good news: new iPad buyers will find a small but interesting assortment of Retina-ready iPad apps in Apple's iTunes Store, which already lists nearly two dozen apps that have been optimized for the tablet's high-res display. Here are some noteworthy selections:
If you’ve ordered a new iPad, you may be wondering what to do with your old one. One option, of course, is to keep it, perhaps passing it along to a friend or relative. Another option, though (as Lex Friedman pointed out in his guide to disposing of old iPads), is to sell that older device for cold hard cash—or at least a gift card or two.
There are several outfits out there—including a mix of old-school retailers, online giants, and companies you’ve never heard of before reading this story—that will pay for used iPads.
I took a look at nine such buyers, getting price quotes for assorted iPad and iPad 2 models. Before diving in, you need to know that the values of used iPads are incredibly volatile, depending not only on the machine’s condition, but also on market demand. The prices I found were current the morning of March 15, 2012, but there’s a very good chance they'll be different by the time you read this—higher or lower, depending on market conditions. But they should give you an idea of what’s possible.
I priced every variation of the first-generation iPad (WiFi and 3G versions of the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models) and all iPad 2s, exclusive of color: I priced only black models. Few of these buyers differentiate between black and white. I also got pricing for iPads in top condition. So if your tablet is scratched, dinged, or engraved, you won't get the best offers.
When you sell your old iPad, you’ll generally have to choose between getting a gift card or cash in return. Gift card values are (generally) higher than cash, but if you want to use the money somewhere other than the vendor you're selling to, a gift card won’t do you much good. Note that NextWorth.com and Gazelle.com offer both gift cards (Target and Amazon, respectively) and cash options. Also, GameStop’s gift cards are worth 20% more than the cash values shown in the table.