The New Apple iPad: Faster, Sharper, But Thicker – First Review

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DICTATION

The new iPad comes with a voice dictation program, although it does not offer the iPhone 4S’s Siri software.  (Rumors are swirling that Siri will be part of an upgrade at some point.)

My first try with the dictation feature went very well. It recognized periods, exclamation points, new paragraphs, and got every word I said when I started dictating a paragraph outloud from my book, Overload!

The dictation feature performed equally well in the many times I have tried it since then.

REAR CAMERA

I understand why Apple didn’t include a camera in the original iPad – the iPad itself is unwieldy, and I couldn’t imagine venturing out to take photos with a big tablet (and I felt a tad ridiculous when I did take pictures with the camera in the iPad 2).

That said, the new five-megapixel camera takes ok pictures, although the lack of a flash is a significant problem in low-light situations.

If you happen to need to take a photo and only have the iPad handy (you presumably left your 164-megapixel smartphone home, presumably), it will provide serviceable images. But it’s not a substitute.

WIRELESS

If you get a new iPad with mobile data, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out it’s faster than your Wi-Fi at home in many places. That said, the service from AT&T or Verizon Wireless is not cheap, and you still might be better off if you have a 4G phone that acts as a hotspot for those times where you’re not in Wi-Fi range.

SPECS

As mentioned, the new iPad has a high-resolution Retina display with four times the number of pixels found in the iPad 2.  As of today, it’s the highest resolution display available in a mobile device, and the resolution is higher than most HD televisions. To support the new display, the iPad is powered by a reasonably power-efficient A5X processor with quad-core graphics.

The new iPad has a five-megapixel rear camera that is capable of 1080p video recording with built-in video stabilization.

Wi-Fi is standard on the new iPad.  The iPad Wi-Fi + 4G model comes equipped with 4G connectivity and is able to use the 4G LTE networks from AT&T and Verizon Wireless, supporting both HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA.  Both CDMA and GSM iPad users can roam internationally.  The 4G iPad can also be used as a personal hotspot.

Battery life averages 10 hours (nine hours using 4G). The tablet is 9.4 mm thin, and weighs 653 g; the iPad 2, in contrast, was 8.8 mm thick and weighed 600 g.

SHOULD YOU REPLACE YOUR IPAD OR IPAD 2?

While the improvements are many, the iPad 2 has not truly been made obsolete by the third-generation iPad.  While the new display is simply dynamite, the old one is more than serviceable for most people’s requirements.   Of course the new iPad is a tad thicker and heavier than its immediate predecessor, but it is nonetheless thinner and lighter than the original iPad, and significantly faster.

The built-in 4G support – and the fact that the iPad can also act as a hotspot – may be the tipping points if you’ve found yourself without decent connectivity.

There is one more difference: the new iPad’s blue smartcover has a slightly deeper and more vivid hue than its predecessor and it’s blue on the inside as well.

I wouldn’t rush out to buy the new iPad – but I would put it on my list of things to buy real soon.

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