The new iPad reviewed

Since the first iPad was released in 2010 the iPad has become the benchmark for tablet computing. With the release of the 3rd generation iPad or iPad 3 or "new iPad" as apple calls it there are some Great Expectations, no matter what you call it, for this device to live up to. The Shedworx team are among the first people in the world lucky enough to see if this new iPad can match those expectations.

Whats New?

The display

The first thing that you notice even before unlocking is the new screen resolution. The much touted retina display technology that first graced eyeballs on the iPhone 4 has arrived on the iPad. Can you notice the difference? Short answer is yes. Much like comparing the screens iPhone 3 models with the retina display on iPhone 4 you will be hard pressed to dismiss it as just a gimmick. It really makes using the iPad that much fresher and enjoyable experience. If you use an iPad for an eReader you will want to upgrade. The retina display on the new iPad isn't quite as dense as the iPhone 4 - 264 PPI vs 326 PPI. You don't have to look quite as hard to make out the pixels but given you hold your iPad further away than an iPhone it's not noticeable.

Above: Illustrating 264PPI vs 326PPI.

The rest

The retina display is the main difference you will notice between your old iPad and the new model. Cosmetically the iPad 3 looks and feels just like the iPad 2. The iPad 3 is slightly heavier than the iPad 2 and just a little bit thicker. The iPad 3 has the new Apple A5x dual core 1GHz processor. The added "x" signifying the addition of a quad core GPU. The iPad 3 now is 4G compatible as well. No 4G support for the iPad 3 in Australia yet. We hear it's pretty fast. Out of the box it comes with iOS 5.1 installed.

Using the iPad 3 feels just the same as the iPad 2; it's not any faster but importantly it's not any slower. You notice the performance difference when you compare it to the first iPad the most. Logging in to Gmail took 46 seconds on the original versus 33 seconds on the iPad 2 and the iPad 3.

To test out the new Quad Core GPU we tried out the latest Infinity Blade II game. This version has updated graphics to support the retina display on the new iPad. On both devices the game loads up at the same speed. The iPad 3 version runs just as well as it does on the iPad 2 but with more antialiasing and higher resolution graphics.

Above: Retina graphics on the iPad 3 versus the old iPad 2. Best compared with the full resolution versions: iPad 2 screen (1024 x 768px, 1.4MB) iPad 3 screen (2048 x 1536px, 4.6MB)

Video Playback

You can also put that new A5x processor to the test with video playback. The iPad 3 now supports playback of 1080p video. Smart Converter will be updated soon to support 1080p conversions for the iPad and the new Apple TV.

New Camera

If you were disappointed with the 0.7Mp rear camera in the iPad 2 the new 5Mp camera should fix that. The same awkwardness of taking a photo with such a large device is still there but now you're rewarded with photos that you can potentially print out in a size larger than the iPad. The pictures are much sharper and colours are brighter overall compared to the iPad2. This better quality image is seen also in the new 1080p video recording capability.

Above: The difference in between 0.7Mp and 5Mp. Download the full size photos: iPad 2 (960 x 720px, 250kB) iPad 3 (2592 x 1936px, 1.8MB)

Final thoughts

The new iPad is a great device. If you have never owned a tablet device then the new iPad is the place to start. If you have an iPad 2 and are expecting huge leap in performance or to be blown away by new and exciting features your expectations aren't going to be met. You would only get that from upgrading from the original version. Just like in 2010 the iPad is still the benchmark for tablet devices in 2012.

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