Provides: Touchscreen tablet computing
Minimum Requirements: iTunes account, Mac or PC with USB connectivity or iCloud account, WiFi access
Price: $499 – 16GB; $599 – 32GB; $699 – 64GB
Availability: Out now
Apple’s New iPad is a wondrous device. It works well, looks great, and is a joy to use. I’ve discussed it extensively with people such as my brother, who was given a $1,200 tech budget from the university where he teaches and wanted to know if the New iPad was a good way to spend it; with my boss who, is beginning to think it makes sense to have an office iPad for client presentations; and even that guy at Kia, who ripped me off on the replacement of a tire pressure sensor and then broke my Seahawks license plate frame in their car wash.
For one reason or another, I’ve never had so many people ask me if a new Apple device is worth the purchase. My answer is, generally, the same; “Yes, it’s worth it…unless you’re already happy with what you’ve got.”
That sounds like a cop-out, but it’s really more about just understanding your needs. Before I make a blanket recommendation here, let’s take a look at the needs the new iPad covers.
We should first talk about the new Retina display, even though words can’t really do it justice. With normal app use, it looks better, yes. But when you’re using apps optimized for the Retina display, the results are stunning. The difference can be as dramatic as looking at a photograph printed on photo paper and looking at it printed on copy paper.
Games, photos, videos, etc. all look stunning, but it’s when you’re reading text that the difference becomes more important. The characters are smooth and clean at pretty much any size, and you can spend a lot more time looking at the screen without causing eye strain. As I mentioned in my Bullet point impressions: the new iPad article, when I showed the new display to my wife, her first words were, “I can finally read books on this now.” And she has.
This 2048×1536 resolution display at 264 pixels per inch (by comparison, your standard computer monitor has 72 pixels per inch), coupled with the dual core Apple A5X chip that powers the quad core graphics, is a bigger power drain than what we got from the iPad 2. As such, the battery needs to be larger to retain the 10 hour power time for general use. This isn’t an issue on size, as the new iPad is barely thicker than it was before. In fact, many of the iPad 2 cases work just fine with the new iPad. However, it takes a lot longer to charge. More than ever, you’ll need to dock it overnight, or at least plug it in. My particular iPad (16GB Wi-Fi) also ran hotter than the iPad 2. It was never uncomfortable, and it wasn’t noticeable when using it in a case, but you can feel the difference.
You’ll also be able to tell the difference with the aforementioned A5X chip, which pushes power through the system at more than respectable speeds. The iPad has always been fast at launching apps, but a lot of games, especially, have been playing much more smoothly since I’ve upgraded devices. Those that before required me to power down the system and turn it back on before playing now play just fine without that process. I expect it won’t be long before we start seeing apps that require the new iPad to even work, and I’m excited to see exactly what those apps will be able to do.
And finally, there’s the new camera. The iPad 2 camera was kind of a joke, certainly useless for anything except an informal FaceTime session. The new iPad’s 5-megapixel camera that can film video at 1080p HD is much more respectable. The iPad will never make sense as your go-to camera like an iPhone or iPod touch would (I cringe at the thought of someone snapping vacation photos of Mount Rushmore or Boneville at Cedar Point with an iPad), but the better camera is still important to have because of the apps that support it. The larger screen makes apps such as iStopMotion, FX Photo Studio HD and Photo Delight much more enjoyable to use, and with the new iPad’s camera, you can finally acquire and edit the photo/video on the same device.
But now we’re back to the question of whether it’s worth upgrading to the new iPad. If this is your first iPad, yes. Absolutely. You can get a better deal on an iPad 2, of course, but you’re not saving so much that it’s worth missing out what the new iPad offers.
If you still have the first generation iPad, again, yes. Upgrade. The difference in display and power will blow your mind.
If you have an iPad 2, however, I think you’re safe waiting until this time next year. Yes, the resolution’s better, it’s more powerful, and the camera is finally worth using. But the iPad is a major investment, so unless you plan to trade in the old iPad (and there are plenty of good deals to be found that way), you’ll be okay biding your time. Save that money and put it towards an Apple TV.
Or hold onto it if you’re a Kia Soul owner. You’ll be needing to replace your tire pressure sensor(s) before you know it.
Buy the New iPad
For another take on the new iPad, read Review: Apple’s Third Generation iPad at Gadgetell.com.