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The New iPad Review (3rd Generation)

The new iPad is here. 


I preordered the device on launch day. Arrived as-promised on the 16th. 

 

The packaging. Almost indistinguishable from the iPad 2 minus a few details. I bought the 64GB Wi-Fi model. LTE is one of the biggest additions but I won't be able to talk about it here.

 

There have been a few people stating their disappointment with this device. David Pogue even said “For once, owners of the old device need not feel so obsoltete.” I couldn’t disagree more. The iPad 2 was the device with minor improvements. The 3rd generation iPad is a huge leap forward.

 

The iPad 2 had many great improvements. The speed, clever smart cover and an impossibly thin design. However, in a bigger picture, these are largely superfluous improvements compared to what the new iPad offers. Sure, speed is great and a thin device is better but nothing is more important than the display. It is the window in which you interact with the content you care about.

 

As someone that wears glasses, I immediately saw a metaphor here. Looking at the retina display gave me the same feeling as waking up in the morning and putting on my glasses. You notice details you thought never existed. Everything is so crisp. 

 

It is truly blow-away. It’s amazing in every way. It’s shocking. You are simply not ready to see a display of such caliber. The last few products from Apple have really been evolutionary. This is not one of them. It's revolutionary.


I thought I would be ready to see the retina display. After all, I interact with my iPhone 4S everyday. But the scale of this gorgeous 9.7” display is what puts it to a new level. If you are a person that loves typography, design, photography, anything visual, or just attention to detail, the new iPad will be irresitable. 

 

The beauty of this display is impossible to capture with a camera. The new iPad has four times the number of pixels of the iPad 2 and a million more pixels than an HDTV. It's not just the pixels though. Color reproduction is as good, if not better than the Apple Cinema Display. I urge you to just see it for yourself.

 

Puting my 27" Cinema Display to shame. This was the best LCD I've personally seen. No longer.

 

Cosmetically, everything is nearly identical. It’s representational about what Apple cares about. I’ve written about this previously. It’s a hair thicker and has a more aggressive profile though.


The added thickness is hard to perceive (it's only a 0.6mm difference) but the new profile does make it feel better in the hand.

 

I've always loved this corner. The camera lens follows the curve of the edge now. Really elegant. 

 

 

The dock connector also has some differences. Instead of having a plastic lip, Apple has been able to machine the entire dog-house from the same single piece of aluminum as the body. This is now the most handsome dock connector of any Apple device.

 

The new iPad also has dictation, which is a feature I've been using heavily. If you prefer to type, the iPad is still not too bad for typing, especially with the Smart Cover. Siri is still missing, which isn't surprising since it's still in beta.

 

I had a blue Polyurethane smart cover for my iPad 2 which I later traded for a dark grey one. I decided to grow up and get a leather one this time. I initially picked up this navy blue one.


But the navy blue doesn't look so great under incandescent lighting. I returned it for the red one. If you're thinking of getting a leather smart cover, go to the Apple Store and pick one out yourself. Apple uses real Italian leather and the grain on every cover is slightly different. I spent a few minutes examining each one and picked out the grain that was most attractive to me.

 

One of the other big changes is the addition of an "iSight" camera. It uses the same sensor as the iPhone 4 and the same optics as the iPhone 4S. The results are pretty good. You really shouldn't be using the iPad as a camera though. You'll look like a fool.

 

The new optics allows it to do some baby bokeh. Notice how the Nissan logo is clear and the speedometer begins to fade out.

 

Also much better in low light. 

 

The camera app is missing HDR though. I don't understand why it's an iPhone-only feature. 

 

All of the new features of the iPad comes down to one thing. A better experience. Particularily in things like web browsing. 

 

I use my iPad mostly for reading, whether it's on the web, on Instapaper or on iBooks. Text is razor sharp now. It's almost like someone printed on cellophane and backlit it. 

 

Apps like iPhoto runs without hesitation. Though it's no Lightroom, iPhoto is a surprisingly capable app. I don't see many people needing anything more than this. It's just $4.99, which is pretty insane considering that iPhoto on the Mac is $15 and something more professional like Lightroom can get to $150.

 

The biggest performance improvements are in graphics, thanks to the A5X chip and a bump in memory. Games look incredible. I’ve always thought Real Racing 2 was the best looking game on the iPad 2. They’ve updated the game with retina graphics and it looks even better. The game approaches console territory but is only $2.99.

 

StockTouch is also one of the first apps to get a Retina boost. It really is an app that showcases the real estate and resolution that is available on this device.

 

This was one of the Apps that Apple flashed on screen during the keynote. It's not necessarily for a hard core trader but does give you a feeling for where the market is going. It's $4.99.

 

So, should you get one? If you're still holding on to the first iPad, yes. If you're using the iPad 2, I'd be tempted but might wait another year. And if you've never owned an iPad and have been thinking of one, now's the time. This might be one of the most perfect products Apple has ever made. I really can't point out a single disappointment with the new iPad. Apple seems to have put everything they've learned into this device and most importantly, all of the competitors are well... not really competing.  

The new iPad is a device that shows how a great device is really like a ballet. It cannot be created by pure specs or just great software. It's a dance of all these things. This is the first device I've seen where this ballet is done so beautifully. The iPad is more elegant than the Mac and even the iPhone to me right now. I love this thing.

 

EDIT

I woke up to some email today asking me about my iPad getting hot during graphics intensive tasks. I don't play games for longer than a minute so haven't noticed anything. So I fired up Real Racing 2 and played for over 15 minutes. It got warm, but not even close to hot. My iPhone will get fairly warm after using an app like TomTom. The iPad is cool in comparison.

Personally my ipad3 gets warm enough  in that corner to cause my fingers to start sweating after just 15 min of browsing google news and static web pages, with brightness only at 30%. - TC

This comment made me a bit concerned. If your iPad gets this hot, it must be a defect. I wrote in Pages and browsed in Safari for hours yesterday and did not notice any unusual warmth. I haven't had to time to read through it but a reader tells me there's a discussion happening on Apple's support forums on this topic.

 

EDIT 2

Apple responded to the supposed heat issue. If you have concerns, contact Apple Care. Mine gets warm, never "hot".