Wolf Man Avatar Posted on 3/23/2012 by Wolf Man
Tech
Computers

Current iPad 2 owners may not find enough 'new' here to justify upgrading to The New iPad, but those new to the tablet market and willing to give it a chance will be more than surprised and excited over Apple’s latest 'magical' device. Here you'll find the most beautiful screen ever made, both figuratively and literally, an impressive 5MP rear camera that snaps HD pictures and video, and even a handy built-in dictation feature that are the most obvious improvements in this third-generation tablet. Other than that, there's little to say about the iPad that hasn't been said already by this point, and the New iPad only makes a great product even greater. This is as close as we've seen a computer become a truly versatile 'appliance' in the form of a fun, exciting device that lets you handle productivity as well as play. Forgive the hyperbole, but you’ll swear it truly is a magic window to another world.
Manufacturer: Apple
Model Number: MD328LLA
Price: $499
Written by Chris Mitchell (senior editor)

I’ll admit that wasn’t too excited when I first learned about the New iPad, as it seemed to be little more than a tweaked up iPad 2. There just didn't seem much need for Apple to tinker that much with a proven success streak, and after selling tens of millions of them and virtually no real competition in the market, who was seriously expecting them to 'fix' what wasn't broken, right? But with a breathtaking screen, powerful backside camera, and a nifty dictation feature, those new to the Apple franchise and the tablet market just might find plenty to love with this third-generation iPad (or in some cases, love all over again).

The iPad's dimensions remain largely the same, though its body has added a few millimeters to its depth and a few ounces to it's weight. Other than that, the new iPad looks, feels, and functions almost entirely the same as the iPad 2 did. The volume, power, and orientation-lock buttons are still in the exactly same place, as is the 3.5 mm audio jack, docking connector, and circular 'home' button (which survived speculation that Apple would remove it for a complete gesture-based experience). This is the first iPad to ship without needing a computer for initial set-up and iCloud syncing, and it was during this process that I began to been twangs of disappointment over just how 'new' this iPad really was.

But after playing around with it, I’m in love with the iPad all over again. Let me start off with the biggest and most obvious new feature, the heavenly Retina Display-quality screen. Now we’ve all heard of this song and dance being thrown around with Apple’s other devices, but they really mean it here as with 3.1 million pixels dancing simultaneously around the screen at four-times the resolution of the iPad 2; the iPad even out-pixels most HDTVs with an extra million pixels over most 1080p displays. The 2048 x 1536 screen is so crisp and sharp that it can feel like its trying to burn images right into your eyes (but in a good way).

You immediately notice this the first time you get to the iPad’s desktop, almost as if Apple wanted to give you instant gratification after setting it up. Icons and images seem to leap out at you with such vivid detail they almost look three-dimensional, while apps and games all look sharper than ever, especially those upgraded to take advantage of the resolution bump. Text is easier to read, images are sharper, colors more vibrant, and the detail on everything is just so much cleaner and spectacular looking. This is easily the most impressive screen that I've ever laid eyes on, and while the new iPad display shares much with Apple's own iPhone 4 and 4S displays, its the bigger proportions (9.7" vs. 3.5") that truly make all the difference.

Those fancy graphics won't render themselves, and this leads me to the next big upgrade from the iPad 2, the new A5X processor. While it might sound a bit confusing, the A5X is actually a dual-core CPU with quad-core graphics processing power; this translates into having more bang for the silicon buck, which is necessary to power all those super high-definition visuals while also letting it handle processor-heavy apps and graphically intense games with ease.

As there's yet to be any games made specifically with the new screen and processing power in mind I've had to make due playing around with existing titles that received launch updates; you won't hear me complaining. Many personal favorites benefited greatly from the massive resolution bump, especially those games with 2D visuals. Scribblenauts Remix looked more incredible, Jetpack Joyride more joyous, and those Angry Birds were angry than ever.

Infinity Blade 2, the iPad's most reliable go-to game for polygon-pushing benchmarks, was among the first to receive a Retina-quality upgrade and looked more gorgeous than ever. Still, it may be unfair to gauge the true potential of the new iPad based on the performance of those apps designed for less-powerful hardware. If anything, having such power at their fingertips - literally - might force developers to up their game some, as the new iPad's screen also brings out every defect and blemish in low-resolution textures without apology. The effect isn't that different than watching standard-definition content that hasn't been upscaled on a HD display.

Few developers were ever able to take full advantage of its predecessor's powers, outside of the odd Unreal or Unity Engine release, so let's just hope all that processing potential doesn't go to waste. Apple has released a substantially big update to iPhoto that takes full advantage of both updated screen and processor, with editing capabilities and more, but I wasn't able to test the app for myself in time for this review.

Another huge improvement is the new 5 megapixel iSight camera on the rear that utilizes the A5X for cleaner, crisper stills that are a gargantuan improvement over the iPad 2's mediocre 0.7 megapixel camera. While it's still not quite up to par with the iPhone 4S's incredible 8MP clicker, those only rocking an iPad as their go-to camera will find much to love with pictures that aren't as washed-out, blurry, or look like faded prints. Likewise, the iSight also records video in 1080p, with similar image enhancements that produce strikingly clear video this time around (and clips you'll be proud to upload to YouTube and social-networks). Alas, the front camera remains the same ruddy VGA-quality lens that's good enough for FaceTime and video chatting, but that's about it.

Another neat addition is the native dictation feature that's built right into the virtual keyboard, giving you the power to speak into the built-in microphone and have whatever you want typed (without the need for third-party apps like Dragon Dictation). This feature works on any app that supports the on-screen keyboard, with a tiny microphone icon that looks exactly like the one used for Siri on the iPhone 4S that you simply tap to begin dictating and tap again when finished to bring up what you said. While it will flub some of the things you say from time to time, it does work quite nicely more times than not and was very useful for quick phrases and short messages.

Apple's digital assistant, sadly, isn't present on the new iPad and probably never will be, as Siri requires an always-on internet connection that's just not available on most iPad models, so out it goes.

Current iPad 2 owners may not find enough 'new' here to justify upgrading to The New iPad, but those new to the tablet market and willing to give it a chance will be more than surprised and excited over Apple’s latest 'magical' device. Here you'll find the most beautiful screen ever made, both figuratively and literally, an impressive 5MP rear camera that snaps HD pictures and video, and even a handy built-in dictation feature that are the most obvious improvements in this third-generation tablet. Other than that, there's little to say about the iPad that hasn't been said already by this point, and the New iPad only makes a great product even greater. This is as close as we've seen a computer become a truly versatile 'appliance' in the form of a fun, exciting device that lets you handle productivity as well as play. Forgive the hyperbole, but you’ll swear it truly is a magic window to another world.







Pure silliness, wrapped around a history lesson that’s largely apolitical; stars persons and places more recognizable than the first book.
April 7, 2014Read More!
Stories written between 2003 and 2010 that are bagatelles; not bad, but not memorable; not the Waldrop collection to start with, but buy it anyway.
April 3, 2014Read More!
An exemplary vision spanning 192 pages, with plenty of juicy information about Respawn’s wondrous new world to sate even the most jaded of gamers.
March 21, 2014Read More!
Even if its source material wasn't to your liking, there’s plenty to enjoy about this accompanying tome, especially if you can appreciate great art when you see it.
March 21, 2014Read More!
We chat with Cosplay Deviants' Troy Doerner about his new book Undressing the Art of Playing Dress Up.
March 19, 2014Read More!
See More From Culture...
Lacks the nostalgic pulp magazine atmosphere that made its predecessor so much fun, but as a Marvel film it gets the job done.
April 4, 2014Read More!
More audacious than volume one, mostly because of von Trier’s willingness to delve into the darker, often unexplored recesses of the mind.
April 4, 2014Read More!
In spite of Berry's incredible performance(s), the film cannot escape its controversial subject matter or its melodramatic plot.
April 4, 2014Read More!
Disney returns its Peter Pan spin off series to the high seas in The Pirate Fairy.
April 4, 2014Read More!
Competently made and well cast, though it tells a story so rote and predictable that you might as well watch it with a checklist of genre clichés.
April 2, 2014Read More!
See More From Movies...
This next-gen COD style mech adventure is one best experienced with equipment that can make it shine, even if the underlying product is still kind of dull.
April 14, 2014Read More!
A great example of a 'clone' of popular genre games done right, especially those unavailable on platforms they make the most sense on.
April 14, 2014Read More!
A streamlined version of 999 that doffs the need for convoluted gameplay, presenting the same events and chilling twists that make the game accessible to anyone. In short, it's awesome.
April 14, 2014Read More!
While commendable to see a darker take on familiar archetypes, fans may want to stick with a different strategy-RPG that doesn't try so hard to be edgy.
April 14, 2014Read More!
A new act, class, loot system and more await in Blizzard’s Diablo 3: Reaper Of Souls.
April 8, 2014Read More!
See More From Games...