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Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Post PC World: The Best and Worst of "The New iPad"

The New iPad...

Yesterday at 1:00 pm eastern time Apple introduced "the new iPad". For the most part the iPad's reception has been favorable. Donald Bell, from CNET is absolutely enthralled with the new Retina display.Charles Cooper, again from CNET says "nobody cares what we didn't get". I happen to agree, although there is a part of me that wants to call "the new iPad" the "iPad 2S". Overall, what we received from Apple is pretty much what was rumored - see my recent post to compare the rumors to reality. But now that its here let's take a look at the machine.

What We Did Get

During the Keynote address Apple's CEO Tim Cook made it a point to differentiate the PC-World from the Post PC-World. Apple claims to be leading the Post PC-Revolution with its new iPad; although I am skeptical of the claim the the PC is no longer the center of the digital world and just another device - there are things iPad cannot do that I use my PC for everyday. So how well does the new iPad perform in a Post PC-Universe? Pretty damn good! See the brief video below for the big announcement.

The first thing Apple revealed was its new - and amazing - Retina display! The standard HDTV has a resolution of 1920x1080 or about 2 million pixels. The new iPad has a resolution of 2048x1536 pixels or over 3.1 million pixels! I have not seen the display yet, of course; the release data is not until March 16, 2012. But with that number of pixels on a 9.7 inch screen it has to be fantastic! I am going to buy the machine just for this display, which truly is revolutionary. The display alone is a huge upgrade from iPad 2 or any other tablet on the market. See the video from Apple to see the technology behind the Retina. 

We also received a more powerful processor with the A5X chip, which has quad-core graphics capability. I am not sure how fast the A5X chis is, although I have a hunch that it's still 1GHZ. I am also pretty sure that the new iPad has the same 512MB of RAM that the iPad 2 has. Nevertheless, quad-core graphics is a nice improvement.

Another new feature, which I though was odd given iPhone 4S, is the 5MP iSight camera with 1080p recording. It uses the same optical system as the iPhone 4S, yet it is 3MP less. It has image stabilization, records in 30fps, and has a 5x digital zoom. Not bad for a tablet camera!

The final new piece of hardware is the 4G LTE and 3G-World capabilities (which I did not mention in my last post). This is a really exciting feature if you want to spend an extra $129.00 for the device and spend another $30.00 a month for the 3GB a month data service from AT&T or $30.00 a month for 2GB of data from Verizon. No thanks, I'll stick with Wi-Fi :) (Do you see why I could care less about this feature coming to the iPad? I pay enough for my freaking iPhone data plan as it is.) Although I am impressed that Apple was able to keep the same battery life with the addition of next generation broadband cellular.

We also received a new microphone with the new iPad along with voice dictation (this will be amazing, if it works - is you watched the Keynote, you may have noticed there was no on stage demo like there was with Siri, this could mean the technology isn't as reliable). 

Apple also released a bunch of new Apps for the iPad, which I am not going to reiterate here. The bottom line is simple: if you have been waiting to buy one, now is the time; if you already have one it might not be enough to spend another $499.99 in less than two years (or one year is you have the iPad 2). 

Even though the new iPad is a revolutionary device at the same remarkable price point, there are a few things missing.

What We Did Not Get and Should We Care?

The first thing that struck me was no Siri! When Philip Schiller announced the new voice dictation feature, I was positive that the next words out of his mouth were going to introduce Siri for the iPad... that didn't happen. However, with the microphone and the hardware specs I think that Siri is on its way to the iPad. This summer Apple is likely to introduce the next generation iPhone and with iOS6. I think there is a pretty good shot that Siri comes to iPad at this time. Thus, I am not too disappointed that Siri wasn't offered with the new iPad... just yet.

I was, however, disappointed that the device - outside of the display - was not more powerful overall. I was hoping for 1GB of RAM and a more powerful processor, even if it wan't quad-core. Yes, I know that the graphics chip is quad-core - that's awesome! But I have a feeling the processor is still 1GHZ (this spec is not yet mentioned here on But, in the end, I don't think this matters for the new device. The iPad 2 is mega fast and I am sure the new iPad will be as well. 

The 5MP camera is a let down. The iPhone 4S has a better camera than the new iPad! However, I don't really plan on taking my photos with my iPad (I am sure many people agree with me); in fact my phone is really my first option when I am out and about and want to capture video and pictures. Moreover, with iCloud I can take my pictures and video with my phone and edit them on my gorgeous Retina iPad display. Thus, the fact that the new camera is better is enough for me. It still seems weird though that they couldn't just place the iPhone tech in the iPad? But what do I know, I am not one of their engineers... We also didn't get an improved front-facing camera - it remains the 0.3MP VGA quality - but really this is only used for Face-Time and who needs to look at my face in high resolution!

Of course, being the geek that I am, I wanted a bigger screen, flash support, a new iOS, better hardware, Siri, and longer battery life - but really I know that my wants and desires are much higher than actual expectations! The new iPad is a magnificent improvement and critics shouldn't be quick to point out what is not in the new device. I recall that after the iPhone 4S release there was a lot of talk about what that product was lacking, yet the device has been Apple's best selling phone yet. The new iPad is going to make a huge impact on the tablet market! 

The fact of the matter is that Apps are better for iOS and they will now look better on the Retina display with the more powerful graphics chip. Apple Post-PC portable devices are the best on the market. Android is a great operating system. It does a lot of great things and does them well. But nothing compares to the beautiful and easy to use iOS. In fact, the more I use Apple's portable devices, the more I want to buy a Mac... but I won't... Why? See here.

The Bottom-Line... Buy One!

I will be purchasing the new iPad! I am not sure if I will buy it on March 16 - I don't have the time to wait in line all day (unlike the people in those Samsung commercials, I have things to do). But I will pick one up early in the product cycle. My biggest fear in buying a tablet is that it will be out of date in only a year - and it will! I am not worried about my phone because I get one every two years and they are relatively cheap (if you sign your life away with a 2-year contract). Bu the tablet is much like a PC purchase, it's going to be with you for a few years (unless you have unlimited wealth, then just buy one every year - I do not). 

In the end I am impressed enough with the upgrade from iPad 2 to make the buy. I know that this time next year I will want the new device - that is a curse I must live with. In fact, if "iPad 4" good enough I'll give the old iPad to my fiance and buy the new one for myself :)

Yes... I am excited! I will be sure to let you know about my experience once "the new iPad" is in my possession.

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