No company does a product rollout like Apple, and when you've got millions of
anxious eyes ready to devour any and all news about the next iteration of a
product as popular as the iPad, excitement levels can be well near
stratospheric. And that's exactly what the company did this afternoon as CEO Tim
Cook and his crew took to the stage to unveil the first new iPad since the
passing of Steve Jobs last year, and it's not the iPad 3, iPad 2S, or the
absurdly silly iPad HD. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to "the new iPad".
Yes, Apple’s latest magical slate is now simply
called the ‘new iPad’, which the company is calling - wait for it - "Resolutionary",
referring to the screen's substantial bump in resolution. No, there wasn’t a new
connector port, no memory card slots, and the circular home button is still very
much present and accounted for. But what the new tablet lacks in new screen
sizes and names it more than makes up for in raw power.
At first glance the new iPad doesn’t seem radically
different than the iPad 2, though its now slightly thicker, slightly heavier
(1.4lbs vs. 1.3lbs) on the whole. While the screen size remains a familiar 9.7”, the
resolution has been upgraded to Retina Display status to 2048 x 1536 at 264 ppi
– four times the number of pixels as the iPad 2 and has what Apple is calling
“the highest resolution display ever seen on a mobile device with 3.1
million pixels.” Not only that, but the resolution apparently sports even more pixels
than HDTVs, meaning your new iPad can easily display the 1080p of
high-definition movies and then some.
Powering those pixels is Apple’s new A5X quad-core
processor, a significantly enhanced version of the A5 chip that lets the new
iPad render faster, process quicker, and help make that Retina Display even more
beautiful. In sheer might Apple says their new GPU offers four times the power
of NVIDIA's Tegra 3 – at least theoretically.
Oddly, the iPad’s RAM doesn’t seem to have changed as the new model still
supports 512 Megs to keep things running along, though that number may change as
it nears its release date (Apple wasn't bragging about RAM allotments, so it's
difficult to tell at this point). Curiously, the new iPad seems to support
Bluetooth 4 technology, but this apparently wasn’t critical enough to make the
Speaking of speedy, it seems that while the new
iPad comes standard with voice-dictation built right into the keyboard, it
doesn’t (at this time) support Apple’s digital assistant Siri. Perhaps this is
due to Siri’s reliance on network connectivity which, apart from the optional 3/4G
network data plans from participating carriers, the iPad simply doesn’t have.
While it may not be the iPhone 4S’ glorious 8MP
clicker, the new iPad boasts a vast improvement over its predecessor’s pathetic
camera system with a 5 megapixel ‘iSight’ rear sensor that's illuminated,
complete with 5-element lends, IR filter, and built-in ISP. Again, similar to
the setup we've seen on the iPhone 4S, not to mention improved 1080p video
recording with footage stabilization. Sadly, it looks like the front camera
remains the same, with a VGA-quality lens that suitable for FaceTime calling and
Demonstrating the usefulness of that new processor and Retina resolution were
upgraded versions of popular software apps like GarageBand, iMovie, and most
pressingly, iPhoto, which received the lion's share of demonstration time during
the presentation. Apple wants you to know how impressive photos look on that
lovely new screen, and how simple it's going to be to edit and share them from
this point on.
Gaming was represented by some familiar faces, namely iOS stalwart Epic Games
showing off the next game in their graphically impressive Infinity Blade series
with Infinity Blade Dungeons, as well as Namco Bandai Sky Gamblers, a new
addition to their mobile flight simulator-style action series. Both titles
easily showed off the new iPad's power and resolution features well, though
their long-term exclusivity to the new hardware wasn't mentioned.
One fear many had for the new iPad was battery
life, which is typically the first thing to take a hit whenever there's a
substantial power bump in processing. Thankfully, Apple says the new iPad retains the same impressive
battery life of the iPad 2 with over 9-10 hours of play time.
One of the most sought after upgrades to any Apple
product for some time now has been 4G LTE, and it looks like the new iPad will
be the first to get in on faster downloads. Not only will 4G deliver speeds that
smoke current 3G benchmarks, making those longer downloads much quicker, but
you'll also be able to use the iPad as a MiFi device to let others in on the
faster fun. Apple says there will be two versions of the new iPad available, one for AT&T and the other for Verizon, with both being 'world
ready' enough to be used anywhere on the planet.
Something else that should feel familiar is the
pricing as the new iPad’s various flavors will be the same as its predecessors
with prices starting at $499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB, and $699 64GB (add an
extra $129 to each model for the 4G models). Better pre-order while you still
can as the new iPad goes on sale March 17th. For more information head on over
to Apple's website before it crashes right