After all that hype, I really expected something better, something cooler, than this, the New iPad.
Apple isn’t even calling it the iPad 3 or the iPad HD (as some people had speculated). Throughout the entire press conference today it was just referred to as the New iPad. Gosh, hold me still.
So how is the new iPad different from it’s predecessor? The improvements are nice, but they’re just improvements and hardly live up to the revolutionary rhetoric that Apple used during the reveal. It’s almost easier to point out how this model is the same as last year’s. It’s about the same size, about the same weight, looks identical, same battery life, uses the same controls (no more or less buttons and no Siri) and cost the same. No IR either—so controlling TVs and home theater gear will still require adapters, Bluetooth modules or Wi-Fi.
The New iPad’s biggest improvement is in the display—a Retina display, similar to what’s on the iPhone 4S, but with a 2048 x 1539 pixel resolution. That’s a higher resolution than on a 1080p TV. Yes, the 120 inch home theater screen in your basement powered by a $10,000 projector puts out less pixels than the New iPad.
A screen like that requires some serious graphic power, so the new model sports Apple’s A5X quad-core chip, which the company says packs four times the performance of the previous processor. That quad core chip is responsible for handling an enhanced gaming experience, better photo and video capture and processing and might benefit home control apps as well by allowing for richer graphics and faster reaction time.
The New iPad also comes with a greatly improved rear-panel iSight camera (also similar to the iPhone 4S) with a 5MP sensor, auto focus, auto face detection, built-in stabilization and 1080p video recording. No 3D camera.
To complement the improved camera performance, new iMove and iPhoto apps ($4.99 each) are available with some pretty impressive picture and video processing/editing capabilities. Watch out YouTube, there’s some better cute cat movies coming your way.
There’s also an improved version of Garage Band.
To make it easier to upload (or download) those movies and photos the new tablet supports LTE 4G (available on both AT&T and Verizon) with download speeds up to 72Mbps. That doesn’t matter much if you buy the Wi-Fi only version.
While the New iPad doesn’t include the Siri voice control feature—which is a huge letdown—it does have a voice dictation feature to make it easier to make Facebook or Twitter posts or type up an email to your mom. Voice dictation comes in English, German, French and Japanese.
Overall, it looks good, and I want one, but I was hoping for something a little more mind-bending.
Oh, the price. The 16GB Wi-Fi version is still $499 (at least it hasn’t gotten more expensive).
There is some other good news on the price front. If you’re not impressed with Retina displays or iSight cameras, you can still get the iPad 2, but now $100 cheaper.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.