The meteoric rise of the iPad from the sceptically received ‘oversized iPhone’ of 2010 to class-leading, culture-altering tablet of today has been quite an experience. Apple has recently launched the third generation of its iPad family, but can the new addition live up to the unavoidable hype or is it a flash in the pan that does little to help the range progress?
The single most important asset of the new iPad is its Retina Display, which still measures 9.7 inches across the diagonal but manages to pack in twice as many pixels to deliver a resolution of 2048×1536. All of this extra detail means that the graphics and imagery on the screen look crisper and clearer than ever, instantly rendering the outgoing iPad 2 obsolete in the visual department.
Apple has also ensured that the new iPad cuts the mustard when it comes to processing power, as the new A5X dual-core processor is said to offer graphical grunt which can outdo the quad-core chips such as the Nvidia Tegra 3 which have begun to emerge on rival tablet devices.
The final hardware improvement worth noting is the inclusion of a five-megapixel camera on the rear which can shoot full HD 1080p video as well as standard still photos. Given the artistic leaning of many iPad owners, along with the availability of innumerable photography programs on the App Store, this could be another selling point to add to the list of positive aspects.
The iOS platform, which has been updated for the new iPad, remains as user friendly and approachable as ever, although the real attraction is still the huge, ever-expanding library of applications which can be downloaded to the tablet. Sadly, the Retina Display which makes Apple’s tablet great for integration into iPad kiosk set-ups is actually something of a problem when it comes to software, because it means that apps need to be far larger in order to accommodate higher-resolution textures and detail. The knock-on effect is that entry-level iPads with 16GB of storage space are less appealing because there will be a reduced amount of room available due to the oversized chunks of software that must now be downloaded.
The new iPad is still as aesthetically appealing as its predecessors, in line with Apple’s famous attention to detail when it comes to design. The base models are also roughly the same weight, although as soon as you add 3G/4G connectivity to the set of features the heft of the tablet starts to creep upwards.
The main issue with the new iPad’s design, which may put off some people, is the fact that it is actually marginally thicker than last year’s iPad 2. This extra thickness has presumably been caused by the new LED backlighting array which is necessary to bring the Retina Display to life, but it represents a rare step backwards for Apple, which is a company more typically associated with constant forward momentum.
Apple has managed to keep the new iPad’s price structure in line with the cost of the previous generation, but from some viewpoints it is still a little too expensive to recommend wholeheartedly. When you can get a laptop computer with a larger screen, more power and a greater degree of functionality for less than the cost of a bog-standard iPad, the Apple option becomes more difficult to justify.
Whatever you think of the new iPad, it is sure to please Apple aficionados while continuing to drive the tablet market forwards as rivals attempt to steal some of its thunder.
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