iPad (3rd generation, 2012) review

Posted by: Brett

Whatever you feel like calling it (i.e. iPad HD, iPad 3, iPad 2S, iPad 3rd generation, the iPad after the second generation iPad), the new iPad is a pretty darn good piece of hardware. Although it’s still dual-core, it’s got stunning quad-core graphics, an impressive, razor sharp Retina display, and an all new camera. The full review of this beast is after the break.

Device Specifications

Software: iOS 5.1 by Apple

Processor: Appe A5X dual-core 1GHz processor

Display: 9.7 inch Retina display, 2048 x 1536 resolution

Size: 7.31 inches x 9.50 inches x 0.37 inches

Weight: WiFi model is 1.44 pounds, WiFi + 4G is 1.46 pounds

Hardware

As all models have had, the new iPad has amazing hardware. Not much has changed design wise, although the new iPad is 0.03 inches thicker and 0.11 pounds heavier than it’s predecessor, or up 0.13 pounds from 1.34 pounds if you opt for the 4G model. This means it’s not likely that you’ll be able to discern which tablet is which just by holding them. The tablet retains the same switches, speaker, volume buttons, mute switch, home button, headphone jack, microphones, and dock connector. The aluminum is identical, thus, nothing else has changed in the design department. If you have an iPad 2, you know exactly what to expect.

Processor

The A5 chip debuted in the iPad 2 last year and was later transferred into the iPhone 4S during October. It features a dual-core CPU clocked at 1 GHz for the iPad, but down-clocked to 800 MHz for the 4S, and vastly improved graphics from the single-core A4. Before the March 7th press event, the processor and it’s speed could not be agreed upon by journalists and the like. Would Apple go with an A5X chip that retained the two cores, or would they opt for an A6 chip with four cores? The A5X chip was the one. It has a dual-core CPU with the same 1 GHz clockspeed, but it features a quad-core graphics processor, offering stunning gameplay and more. Apple says the device is twice as fast as thequad-core  Nvidia Tegra 3 CPU in the more recent Android tablets, and four times as fast as the iPad 2, although again, the CPU is still dual-core with the same clockspeed. It’s very likely that you will not notice a significant speed difference overall. In addition to the A5X chip, there is 1GB of RAM, an improvement over the 256MB in the first iPad and 512MB in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S. Coupled with the RAM, the processor’s main purpose it to power the iPad’s new Retina Display.

Display

The new display is the iPad 3’s selling point. The iPad’s Retina Display is probably one of the best displays on a mobile device / tablet. The display has a resolution of 2048 by 1536 and 3.1 million total pixels. It has 264 pixels per inch which will provide the display with a huge increase in clarity, color production accuracy, and contrast and there are 4 pixels in the same spot on the iPad 2 that held only one. The resolution is double the resolution of the iPad 2, which further provides how much the display was improved. You cannot tell how amazing the screen is until you see it in person. Colors are near perfect and clarity could not be any better. Steve Jobs said that the Retina Display (when announcing the iPhone 4) makes text look like something you’d see in a fine-printed book and boy was he right. Text is smooth and looks continuous. Icons and images pop with color and clarity like you wouldn’t believe. Most app developers have started to update their applications to take advantage of the display. Until your favorite apps are updated, graphics and other images will be blurry as their still utilizing iPad 2 display images.

Camera

The camera in the new iPad is also a big improvement. Aside from being renamed to an iSight camera, it now has 5 megapixels and all new optics. It now uses backside illumination and has the same f/2.4 aperture as the iPhone 4S. It shoots full 1080p HD video and features image stabilization for both picture taking and video recording. Low light performance is not very good due to the lack of a flash and the likelihood of using this as a camera for important things like parties or sporting events is not very high. The camera also features a 5 lens system now, just like the 4S. Although images are average, they’re definitely an improvement over the 0.7 megapixel camera on the iPad 2. Video quality is above average because of the 1080 capabilities and the image stabilization works great.

Software

The new iPad comes preloaded with iOS 5.1, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system. iOS 5.1 was released to the public on March 7th for users with devices that support iOS 5.x. For the iPad, changes are almost non-existent. Aside from Apple optimizing the OS for the display, very small things like interface tweaks in the Camera app and and LTE switch in Settings were added. The only main difference is Voice dictation. Although Siri is not present on the iPad 3, the voice dictation part of her is. Voice dictation uses Nuance and Apple’s servers to let you talk to produce text rather than use the keyboard. This feature would come in handy to people who dislike typing on the iPad or those who just don’t want to. iOS is admittedly one of those better tablet operating systems. The hardware and software work together flawlessly and it shows in the fluidity and speed of it. You also get a voluminous amount of applications, most of which work perfectly on the iPad. The quad-core GPU will be able to display and run games like Infinity Blade a heck of a lot better.

Apple also updated all of it’s iOS iLife and iWork apps and they also released iPhoto to complete the suite. You can read more about that here.

Connectivity, Pricing, and Wrap-up

Found in iPad 3, if you choose to get the cellular model, is a new 4G radio. The radio is compatible with AT&T and Verizon’s LTE networks. LTE is capable of around 70 Mbps, although during normal usage, you’ll top out just over 20, which is still blazing fast. Videos will load almost instantly, web pages will be ready in the blink of an eye, and all other internet connection based services will load just as fast. Fortunately, Apple was able to retain the 10 hour battery life with a 42Whr battery (9 on LTE) that many have come to love from previous models. Also inside is Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n. The device comes in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB variants as well as 2 colors – white and black. For the WiFi only model, it’ll cost you $499, $599, and $699, respectively and the WiFi + 4G model will set you back $629, $729, and $829 plus a 4G contract on AT&T or Verizon. The device was released Friday, March 16th.

The new iPad is a great device. You’re probably wondering whether you should get it or not. If you have an iPad 1, go for it. It’s a great upgrade from the original iPad. If you have an iPad 2, it really depends on what you need and want. The new iPad has an all new, astounding display, better graphics but same processor, improved camera, and LTE. If you want all of that, the iPad 3 is for you. If don’t think you need it or you’re on a budget,, go for the iPad 2. It’s priced at $399 for the WiFi model now. If you’re looking for an iPad and you don’t have one now, definitely go for the 3rd generation if you can, it’s worth it.

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#2012, #apple-2, #ios, #ipad-3, #review