Thursday, March 8, 2012

So What is the new iPad all about?

If you have been waiting for the new iPad to arrive, your wait is almost over. On Friday March 16, 2012, the new iPad will be available for purchase in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Switzerland, UK and the US Virgin Islands. The price for the new iPad is the same as for it was the iPad 1 and iPad 2. So what is new about the new iPad? Let us dig into it.

Apple has done away with the numbering system for the iPad and are doing what they do with the iMac, iPod Touch, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro devices; simply calling the new device by name. This makes a lot of sense. There are people saying that Apple didn't call the new iPad the iPad 3 because it is just "a stall" between the iPad 2 and the iPad 3; that is silly.

When things need to be changed on the device, Apple should simply change or update the device without having to pretend to create a whole new device; just as they do with other Apple devices. When Dell changes a desktop from Optiplex 755 to Optiplex 760; with minor changes between the two - no one blinks an eye.  Apple is the only company that demand this type of attention for releasing a "regular" update.  Each revision won't be a game changer.

There is no reason for the average user to swap out their devices each year. They should keep the current device until it no longer does the desired functions that they purchased it to perform. So Apple got this right, the new iPad is just that, "The New iPad".  I suspect Apple will do the same when they announce the new iPhone later this year; no iPhone 5, simply the "new" iPhone.

The biggest change to the new iPad is the screen resolution. Apple's marketing slogan calls the new iPad, "Resolutionary". No, not "revolutionary" or "evolutionary", but "Resolutionary" which is a word play to bring attention to the resolution of the screen. The new iPad’s Retina display has 2048-by-1536-pixel resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi). The iPad delivers four times the number of pixels of iPad 2, so dense that Apple claims that "the human eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels when held at a normal distance". Whether you can see the pixels or not, you will immediately be able to see the rich graphics it can display.

What does this mean for the user? Making so much resolution available in the very portable 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit glossy widescreen Multi-Touch display means that your web pages, text, images and video look incredibly sharp and realistic. The 3.1 million pixels in the Retina display are more than one million more pixels than an HD TV, and with 44 percent increased color saturation the new iPad displays colors that are much richer, deeper and more vivid than any other device you can hold in your hands. Movies are now capable of playing at full 1080p HD-resolution, delivering an incomparable viewing experience on a mobile device. So the rumor mill was correct that the new iPad would get the Retina display. Bottom line, the graphics on the iPad 2 are just fine; however, the new screen is incredibly richer and developers will soon begin to develop "Retina-specific" apps will leave iPad 1 and iPad 2 owners lusting in envy.

The rumor mill also thought the processor would be upgraded to an A6 chip; that didn't happen, but it did receive an upgrade of sorts. The dual-core A5X chip was equipped with quad-core graphics performance. It was designed by Apple to deliver a fast, responsive user experience and support for the new Retina display. The A5X chip doubles the graphics performance of the A5 chip found in the iPad 2. The processing power remained the same as with the iPad 2 with its built-in dual-core processor. So they kept the processor the same as the iPad 2, but added the "X"tra graphics performance to a quad-core performance.

Apple agreed with us that the camera needed a serious upgrade. They just didn't agree with the path that we thought it should take. Apple left the front camera as is, but upgraded the rear camera to a 5 megapixel iSight camera. While not the 8 megapixel camera like the one on my iPhone 4s, it is much better than the measly 0.9 megapixel camera from the iPad 2 device. While it borrowed the camera from the older iPhone 4, it did add some of the features from the iPhone 4s like the advanced optics for taking stunning pictures and recording full HD video. Backside illumination allows you to take great photos in low-light conditions and a new video image stabilization feature removes the bumps and shakes typically seen when filming with a hand-held device. It also borrowed from the iPhone 4s, the ability to edited, enhanced and easily shared with friends and family using the built-in Photos app on iPad.

The new iPad comes in both a Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + 4G models. So the 3G antenna is replaced with built-in next generation 4G LTE technologies. Apple will create separate models to support HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA which supports both CDMA and GSM cellular systems. The world-ready iPad now allow faster 4G speeds for downloads and uploads. This means you will have faster web page viewing, quickly open and send email with large attachments and faster rendering and buffering for online viewing of videos, music, etc. Personal Hotspot can be used to share the fast network connection on your iPad with up to 5 other devices using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or USB if you carrier supports it. If they do support it, it will most likely do so with an additional monthly fee.

One disappointment is that Apple did not increase the storage options, opting to stick with the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models. In the "Post PC" era, as Apple like to call today, we were hoping to get a 128GB offering. Without this and bigger storage choices, some of us have to keep a computer or PC around to storage the pictures, music, movies, video and other items on because it cannot fit on the currently available models. I am hoping Apple will provide more storage in the future devices. Until then, someone in the household might have to keep a PC sitting in a corner for a bit longer.

Another disappointment is the decision to leave Siri off the new iPad. Instead of adding Siri, Apple added only the dictation feature. Apple added a microphone on the virtual keyboard that allows you to speak into the microphone and have the iPad to the transcribing. This is a very useful feature that I use often on my iPhone 4s as I did with my Android devices. The iPad is able to utilize Siri from a hardware performance aspect, but Siri requires a connection to the Internet in order to work fully. One would think that Apple decided not to add Siri because the iPad could be without a connection to the Internet at many times and therefore unable to use Siri, but the new Dictation feature requires a Internet connection too. So we don't know why Apple has excluded Siri from the new iPad. All hope is not lost because Siri is something that can be added later as the product\service improves - Siri is still in Beta you know. So until then, the new iPad owners will have to settle with only the dictation feature. Instead of typing, tap the microphone icon on the keyboard, and then say what you want to say and the new iPad listens. Tap done and iPad converts your words into text. You can use dictation to write messages, take notes, search the web and more. Dictation also works with third-party apps, so you can update your Facebook status, tweet, or write Instagram captions.

The new iPad Wi-Fi models will be available in either black or white (just like it was with the iPad 2). The suggested retail prices are: $499 (US) for the 16GB model, $599 (US) for the 32GB model and $699 (US) for the 64GB model. iPad Wi-Fi + 4G for either AT&T or Verizon will be available for a suggested retail price of $629 (US) for the 16GB model, $729 (US) for the 32GB model and $829 (US) for the 64GB model.

Borrowing also from the iPhone 4s offering, Apple now offers AppleCare+ for the new iPad. AppleCare+ for iPad extends your repair coverage up to two years from the original purchase date of your iPad and adds up to two incidents of accidental damage coverage. Each incident is subject to a $49 service fee and must be purchased at the time you order the iPad for $99.00 USD.

The bottom-line is that the new iPad adds a 2048x1536 Retina Display, a dual-core Apple A5X processor with quad-core graphics, 1080p recording with the 5MP rear iSight auto-focus rear camera, a 4G LTE broadband antenna, Bluetooth 4.0 technology and adds voice dictation functionality. The new iPad is 0.03 inches or 0.6mm thicker, 0.11 lbs or 51 grams heavier, added 17.5 more watt/hr to the battery to maintain the same 10hr (9hr on LTE) battery life the prior models offered. They also kept the same prices for each of last years models and available with either the black or white shell.

Apple is again providing a device that will out shine its competitors’ offerings in the tablet space. Apple has cleverly offered enough improvements to convince the diehard fan-boys to again pony up some money to buy the latest and greatest Apple device, but more importantly provided a device that will give the fence walkers yet another reason to buy the iPad instead of the other devices. By the way, Apple is keeping the iPad 2 around in the 16GB Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + 3G variety for those who don’t want to pony up $100 more for the latest iPad. The iPad 2 Wi-Fi only will continue to sell for $399 and the Wi-Fi + 3G model for $529. Now anyone that wants an iPad can get one if they wish, but they'll will have to wait until March16, 2012. I am buying the new iPad with at least 32GB of storage and will pass my iPad 1 (16GB) to someone else in my household to use.  

(Long lines formed outside the Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, MI on March 11, 2011 for the iPad 2 launch- Credit: Carl Brooks)

Since this is just a regular item in the product line, can we skip the store closing, black curtain drawing, 2000+ line forming events and simply shipped the items to the store and let people show up to get them?  I guessing Apple can't simply be a regular old computer company after all.  I'm betting it going to be MAYHAM again like last year.

Location:Novi, MI


Carl W. Brooks
iAmThereforeiPad, Founder and Chief Editor

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