The new third-generation iPad review
The most visible new feature of the new iPad – its ultra-definition Retina Display – is jaw-droppingly good and a clear-cut improvement over the iPad 2’s screen.
The stunning new display has a resolution of 2048 x 1536 – higher resolution than a full high definition TV – so icons, images and apps look sharper than ever before.
Other new features include an improved camera, faster processor, faster speeds on cellular networks and dictation.
There’s no new numbering or designation for the new iPad – it’s just the new iPad. We’d say numbers after Apple product names will be a thing of the past.
Apple’s latest iPad is easily the best tablet on the market. Until the release of the new iPad – the iPad 2 held that title.
The king is dead – long live the king.
The new iPad is virtually identical to the iPad 2.
The only physical differences are the thickness and the weight with the new iPad 0.6mm thicker and 50g heavier.
To the naked eye the extra thickness is hard to notice. It’s only when you lay the new iPad flat next to the iPad 2 when can you just make out those extra millimetres.
In fact, the added thickness is so slight, the new iPad still fits into all of our iPad 2 cases.
To give you an idea how the new iPad’s screen stacks up against the iPad 2 just take a look at the pixels per inch figure 264 v 132.
That means the new iPad has four times the resolution of the iPad 2.
Look at an icon on the iPad 2 and the actual pixels that make up the shape on the screen are visible as small squares to the naked eye.
With the new iPad those pixels are indistinguishable – hence the name Retina Display. Speaking of pixels – there are 3.1 million of them on the new iPad’s screen.
Moving from the iPad 2’s 1024 x 768 resolution screen to the new iPad’s 2048 x 1536 is like the moment a short-sighted person puts on a pair of glasses for the first time and everything is suddenly clear.
Users will be mesmerised by how good their pictures and movies will look on the new iPad.
Apple has upped the ante with the new iPad’s processor and there’s now an A5X chip under the hood.
This not only gets things chugging along nicely in terms of speed but the included quad core graphics processor provides the added grunt required to power the Retina Display to run absolutely smoothly when watching movies and playing games.
There was not a single flicker or stutter on the screen during our testing.
The added graphics processing capabilities has suddenly given app developers a lot more headroom to produce even richer and more detailed games.
We played a game called Infinity Blade: Dungeons and the graphics and smooth gameplay was stunning.
Another huge improvement of the new iPad comes by way of the iSight 5 megapixel camera.
Now, to be clear, the iPad 2’s camera was never anything to write home about but Apple has not just improved it a little bit – it has improved it a lot.
The difference with images taken with the iPad 2 side by side with shots taken using the new iPad is like night and day.
Images are noticeably crisper and sharper with a whole world of added detail.
Video has also been improved from 720p to full HD 1080p at 30 frames per second with the added image stabilisation making shooting with the tablet even easier.
Not sure if the new iPad will be the first choice for photographers but it’s nice to know it’s there if you need it.
Australians will unfortunately not be able to take advantage of the new iPad’s 4G speeds unless they travel to the US on a holiday and use one of the local 4G networks.
But here, Telstra’s 4G – the only 4G in network at the moment – uses an entirely different frequency to the 4G radios in the new iPad.
But Aussie users shouldn’t despair because the new iPad also has a little something called HSPA+ which basically provides dual channel access to 3G networks.
In Australia, Telstra is the only network that’s offering HSPA+ dual channel. Optus and Vodafone have no immediate plans to add their own but are instead pushing forward with their respective 4G networks.
The increase on speed on Telstra’s Next G network is noticeable when compared to speeds achieved by the iPad 2.
Using the SpeedTest app in downtown Sydney and in the suburbs and averaged around 3Mbps on Telstra’s Next G network on the iPad 2 and between 8Mbps and 17Mbps with the new iPad.
Dictation is not in the same ballpark as Siri, which is part of the iPhone 4S, but it does offer some of its abilities.
We’ve always been a fan of being able to talk to the iPhone 4S and have it convert it to text for our messages and emails.
The new iPad has stepped up to the plate with Dictation so it can do the same thing. Our initial testing showed slightly less accuracy than we’ve enjoyed on the iPhone 4S.
Background noises and the distance we held the iPad away from our mouth also affected accuracy.
It works best in a quiet room and a useful feature to call upon if you happen to find yourself in that type of location.
The battery has always been the unsung hero of the iPad and that tradition continues with the new iPad.
10 hours of usage on single charge is still a reality and an even more impressive feat considering the fact it is powering a higher definition screen and a faster processor.
We suspect the added 0.6mm thickness is courtesy of Apple fitting in a larger battery inside the new iPad to power it for the same period as the iPad 2. And it passed with flying colours.
Apple has extended its lead in the tablet market once again with the new iPad.
It’s superb display alone makes it stand head and shoulders above the competition.
Added improvements like the improved camera and the faster processor and graphics processor just reinforce Apple’s imposing lead.
The iPad 2 isn’t going away – it will still be available as entry level product at an even more competitive price – and those who purchased the iPad 2 last year will still be well served by the product.
The new Retina Display on the new iPad might not be enough for some iPad 2 users to move up to the new device but if you’ve been rocking the original iPad or new to the tablet market – your new tablet awaits.
The new iPad
Price: From $539
Five stars (out of five)