Yesterday came and went and the rumors have moved into the recycle bin as the reality sets in: the new iPad is here! With all the fanfare and hoopla that accompanies any Apple product launch, there necessarily comes the excited cheers of approval mixed with the bitter tears of disappointment. I marvel at the range of emotions an Apple launch invariably brings. But that is not what I really want to talk about here. I would rather talk about specs.
So, what is the iPad 3 – HD – New all about? Mostly processing muscle and display resolution. A lot of both. The new tablet does indeed support a retina display like its little brother iPhone 4S, with a whopping 2048 x 1536 pixels, 264 pixels per inch, for a grand total of 3.1 million tiny points of light. That’s a whole lot for a 9 inch screen. Four times the pixels of the iPad 2, and about a million more than your standard HDTV. The new screen should appear mostly pixel free with a great deal more color saturation. And, to run this visual marvel, the tablet is powered by dual core processor with quad core graphics capabilities – for you geeks, its an A5X chip. So, its going to run fast, and look great doing it.
What else is new? An iSight camera on the front and a better rear camera, along the design lines of the iPhone 4S’ camera (backside illumination, 5-element lens, hybrid IR filter), albeit with a lower resolution sensor at 5 MP. It will shoot 1080p video, though, which should look great in playback on that awesome screen.
With similar battery life and slightly thicker and heavier body, it is virtually indistinguishable to the eye from the iPad 2.
And that’s it for hardware.
UPDATE: I just learned the new iPad also employs the new Bluetooth 4.0 technology, which means it is Bluetooth Smart Ready – the first tablet to have this. What this means is crazy-long battery life for accessories like keyboards and headsets, and better functionality with the new health monitoring gadgets that are looking to bond with iPad apps.
Of course, Apple has to give a bit on the software too – iOS 5.1 is available right now for all your iDevices and will come preloaded on the iPad 3. While Siri is not built into this iPad (sadly enough), it does come with the ability to take dictation via a mic button on the keyboard. It will also be able to access the data net at quad core LTE 4G speeds – as soon as the carrier nets catch up. The tech does actually offer greater download and upload speeds, as the demos showed during the keynote yesterday. So, the new iPad will be faster on the Web as well. And, it can even act as a 4G hotspot, to serve as liaison between your other devices and the Web.
Of course, Apple’s proprietary apps are being updated to take advantage of the new speeds and resolution. Look for updates to iWork, iMovie and Garageband. With the feature set in these apps and the specs of the tablet, you have to take very seriously the iPad as content creation tool now. Take, for example, the new iPhoto app for the new iPad – you will be able to leverage that awesome touch interface to work some serious editing magic on your pics – up to 19 megapixels in size, as well as share and combine photos into metadata-laden journals. iTunes in the Cloud will now allow seamless streaming of purchased movies to all iDevices, which again should look wholly awesome on the new iPad.
The new iPad will hit the same price points as the iPad 2, which will be dropped $100. That’s good news – you can now get a very VERY nice tablet from Apple for $399 starting, and the new features at the same old price.
Of course, Web pundits are all over the map on the release, some bemoaning the label “New iPad”, others left wishing for more. Complaints and praise abound. But the bottom line is that Apple is still the tablet maker of choice and the iPad continues to set the standard that everyone else is trying to approach.
What do the new features mean for business users? Obviously, faster speeds and connectivity mean more efficient computing. For those who are not so fond of the on-screen keyboard, dictation mode will be a nice add. Improvements to iWork should also assist on the work front. If your biz is more artistically oriented, the new iMovie and Garageband, as well as new third party apps from developers such as Autodesk with their awesome Sketchbook app, will move the iPad further away from toy and further towards serious tool for creating music, movies and art.
Should you buy it? Well, I have developed a new philosophy with Apple’s mobile devices – skip a generation and get at least a couple of years use out of each one. Apple is not wildly innovating between models, offering only modest rather than life-changing improvements with each new release. Not that these improvements aren’t great and desirable, but they do not necessarily compel me to plunk down hundreds every time a new Apple device is unveiled. So, if you already have an iPad 2, maybe the new iPad isn’t so attractive, unless you can’t live without that fantastic display.
I currently use the original iPad. I still love it – it is a solid device that performs great and offers me tons of use. I take it with me instead of my laptop on business trips as I have enabled enough work arounds on it to meet pretty much every need I have. But, I will be buying a new iPad, having skipped the iPad 2’s cameras and software improvements, as the leap in functionality is much bigger between the original and the new, justifying the expense. I already know I will use the device, something I wasn’t sure of when I purchased the original iPad. And my son can’t wait until I hand down the original to him, so it is win-win-win all around for me.
For the record, I am going with the 32 GB, 4G model, which mirrors my original iPad’s specs. And, for the record, I had zero problem pre-ordering on Apple’s site, which apparently hasn’t been a universal experience. After I get my hands on it, I will check back here with my actual usage impressions and let you know whether it was worth the hype and the change. I am guessing, though, that I won’t be disappointed.