When Apple announced the new iPad on March 7, 2012, I was one of the many who plunked down their credit card to preorder the latest and greatest gadget to emerge from Cupertino. With the promise of its arrival by March 16, 2012, I was content in knowing that I had nine short days to wait.
I own the iPad 2, and there’s nothing wrong with the one I have, but being that technology is my business, it was easy to rationalize the purchase: I have to stay on the cutting edge of technology! Or at least, that’s what I told my wife, who was promised my iPad 2, which certainly eased her resistance to the expense.
The new iPad arrived on the 16th as promised, amidst much fanfare and lines at various retailers across the world. I had preordered the same configuration as my iPad 2, a 32GB model with cellular data connectivity through AT&T. Of course, one of the new features of this new iPad is the 4G LTE speed, but I’ll have to wait until I get into another city to test out that functionality. Upon opening the new iPad, the first thing I noticed was the added heft: it is slightly thicker and heavier, but not overwhelmingly so. Apple touts the depth as .03 inches thicker and .11 pounds heavier, which isn’t much, but it is noticeable.
As soon as I powered it on, I noticed the difference in the new display. Apple has quadrupled the resolution on the new iPad, and the Retina display blows away the iPad 2 display. A side-to-side comparison on the home screen makes the old one look far inferior: icons exhibit no pixelation, gradients are seamless, and everything is smooth. I then opened up a photo on Photo Stream on both for another comparison; I had taken the photo with my iPhone 4s and its 8-megapixel camera: the new iPad displays brighter colors and greater clarity. Of course, if you’re holding the iPad at arm’s length, the difference isn’t quite so noticeable, but up close, it is remarkable.
Another new feature is a better iSight camera, upping the ante with a 5-megapixel version that can autofocus and perform facial detection, much like the camera offered in the iPhone 4. In video mode, it shoots in full 1080p and offers video stabilization. One of the most disappointing features on the iPad 2 was the substandard camera that Apple used. This rectification will be greatly noticed by most iPad users who have upgraded.
Under the hood, the new iPad features the A5X processor. This is still a dual core processor, though Apple claims this chip offers quad-core graphics processing, a term more commonly applied to processors, not graphics. Nevertheless, this dual-core processor runs at 1.2GHz, .2GHz greater than the iPad 2, not much of a noticeable difference, in my opinion. The new iPad also contains double the RAM, weighing in with 1GB. With the display offering 4x the resolution, both of these upgrades will help to push the device to offer the same type of performance to which iPad 2 users are accustomed, I would think.
Now to answer the question that most want to ask: should you get one? If you don’t have an iPad, then by all means, get the new one. The slight difference in price ($100) between the iPad 2 and the new iPad is easily justifiable based on the upgrades alone. But if you own an iPad 2, upgrading might not be the best idea. Yes, there are some differences, but for most, they won’t be noticed. The iPad 2 is still a rock solid tablet, and in areas with no 4, there won’t be much of a difference in cellular data connectivity speed. For iPad 1 users, yes, the new iPad is more of a temptation, but the iPad 1 is still a great device.
All in all, I’m happy with my purchase and I can justify the purchase. The new upgrades that this new iPad offers are things that I will notice, and besides, it’s my job to kick the tires on this stuff!