With the announcement of Apple’s New iPad (or iPad 3), the iPad 2 has suddenly dropped in price, and those buying an iPad for the first time are faced with a decision: to get the iPad 2 now that the 16GB version can be bought for as little as £329 (or £289 refurbished), or to pay the extra £70 for the equivalently-sized New iPad. It all rests on the differences between the two. Does the New iPad really bring us much that’s truly new, or is the unconventional name a way of disguising a lack of innovation?
The biggest change the New iPad brings is its almost-retina display. The concept of the retina display was first introduced with the iPhone 4S, and loosely means a display on which it is impossible to pick out individual pixels with the human eye. This is why the New iPad can only be said to have an almost-retina display: it is possible to pick out individual pixels if you look closely enough. People tend to hold iPads much further away than they would their iPhone, however, so the difference is negligible, and the New iPad’s display is definitely noticeable – even those not looking out for it will be pleasantly surprised at the improvement.
5MP (rear) camera
The rear camera has never been the iPad’s main selling point. Instead, just as with phones, adding a camera to a tablet is something done simply to keep up with what has become the expectation for consumers. With the New iPad’s 5 megapixel iSight camera, however, this might start to change. While the iPad as a camera is bulky, and rather inconvenient for whipping out to take a quick shot of a subject in motion (you can’t exactly hang it around your neck), the large, crisp display does make for beautiful instant viewing of your photos, and it makes sense to have the photo taking and photo viewing together on one device. The iSight also lets you shoot video in 1080p HD, if you can hold the thing (60g heavier than the iPad 2) up for long enough to get a decent-length film.
The New iPad includes an upgrade from the iPad’s 3G to a faster 4G connectivity, but there’s a snag: for now, this fourth generation of mobile internet connectivity is not available in the UK. This means that those who buy the New iPad WiFi+4G version will be limited to using the 3G that is available in this country (something that can already be done with the cheaper iPad 2), though they will be able to utilise 4G if they travel to countries which do support it, e.g., the U.S.
The New iPad is an improvement over the iPad 2, but a rather timid one. If you want to get an iPad for reading books or PDFs, the crisper, almost-retina display might make the New iPad a worthwhile investment, and similarly if you’re a photo fanatic thrilled by the concept of taking high quality photos and videos and viewing them instantly on that large, high-definition screen. If, however, all you want to do is browse the internet, play games, or any of the other things for which the iPad 2 is more than sufficient, then go ahead and celebrate the new, cheaper price. Or wait until the iPad 4 is announced next year – it’ll be even cheaper then!
Jordan Erica Webber