On 7 March 2012 at a press event in California, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the new iPad. Technically the third iteration of Apple’s flagship tablet device (although Apple have dropped the numerical naming system previously used for the iPad 2), the new iPad might be a tad thicker at 9.4mm (compared to the iPad 2’s 8.8mm) and slightly heavier (51 grams more than the iPad 2), but there’s good reason for it. Apple have packed some amazing new tech into everyone’s favourite glass and aluminium slate. Here’s some of the highlights.
The new iPad sports a 2048 x 1536 pixel, 9.7-inch display, and packing that many pixels into such a small space equates to a whopping 264 pixels per inch, in other words Retina resolution. This all might seem a little technical, but the result is that you can now view photos and videos and read text on your iPad with the same clarity you’d get from the iPhone 4 and 4S where individual pixels aren’t visible to the naked eye. The difference between the display on this iPad and the iPad 2 is huge, there’s four times as many pixels to display your images, books and movies, but it’s not the only improvement Apple has included. The new iPad’s display now features 44% more colour saturation than previous models, giving you a more accurate image and making photo editing with the new iPhoto app (more on this later) even more immersive.
The new iPad’s retina display might not have come as a surprise to anyone in the loop, in fact it’s been a mainstay of the ‘iPad 3’ rumour mill for some time, but it’s definitely a killer feature of Apple’s latest device. With a million more pixels present than in a 1080p HD TV, it’s more than capable of showing your favourite movies in the highest definition available , which is handy considering iTunes in the Cloud now supports movies and TV shows for instant downloads and syncing between your devices. The increase in colour saturation makes using its 5-megapixel camera (again, more on this later) an even more attractive option for filming and photography and all of this is before we’ve even looked into its rendering of text in iBooks or graphics in games.
A5X Chip with quad-core graphics
It might not have been the most exciting addition, but the A5X chip that sits inside Apple’s new tablet device introduces quad-core graphics, and this combined with the Retina display, makes the new iPad a hugely powerful gaming machine. Apple’s keynote saw three different games app developers take to the stage to show off exactly what all of this new tech means for the gaming experience on the new iPad, and the results were pretty impressive. Aside from being blisteringly fast to handle advanced gameplay such as combat and driving, the new iPad allows developers to include advanced graphics rendering techniques that are more likely to be seen in animated films than on a tablet.
The A5X chip isn’t all about enhancing graphics, though. The chip is also put to great use elsewhere on the new iPad in areas like the revamped iMovie app, shooting and editing your home movies is now faster and easier than ever before and editing images with the new iPhoto app is a lot snappier on this device than any previous iPad or iPhone. In short, the iPad’s new processor means more than just a speed bump.
5-megapixel iSight camera
It might not quite reach the dizzying optical heights of the iPhone 4S’ 8-megapixel camera, but the new iPad’s 5-megapixel offering offers a huge improvement to what traditionally a great camera for moving images but below average for stills. The iSight camera features some dramatically improved optics, a la the iPhone 4S, with a larger aperture and an improved sensor, more light is let in to the camera than ever before (meaning it’ll perform a little better in low-light situations, despite still lacking a flash) and the colours that appear in the resulting images are far more accurate.
What’s strikingly obvious from all three features so far, is that they’re all geared towards shooting great photos and movies, editing them on your iPad and viewing them on the retina display. In other words, the new iPad is geared up for great visuals more than ever before. However, there’s more than few updates that extend the new iPad’s capabilities beyond imaging.
4G LTE connectivity
The new iPad supports more wireless bands than ever before. As well as WiFi, the coveted Bluetooth 4.0, UTMS, HSPA and HSPA+, Apple’s latest tablet now supports 4G LTE. For the UK and Europe, this doesn’t mean too much, but for our friends across the pond, it means that iPad users can access the high-speed LTE data networks that are being rolled out across the United States. US owners don’t get all the fun though, if you purchase the new iPad with Wifi + 4G connectivity in the UK or Europe, you’ll be able to connect to an LTE network whenever you travel to America, meaning the feature is still worth shelling out for, if you travel stateside often enough. You can now also use the iPad as a personal hotspot, providing your network provider sorts it – useful if you’re without an iPhone with the same capabilities and browsing a websites where (on the rare occasion) iOS Safari doesn’t quite cut it.
The new iPad now supports Siri-like dictation in any situation where the virtual keyboard is used. Simply tap the microphone icon, dictate anything you want typed out and let iOS crunch through it and type it up. It’s no fully-featured assistant like Siri on the iPhone, but for anyone who uses their iPad as a serious business tool, it makes a lot of sense and could save some time when it comes to working in Pages or replying to emails.
Pricing and availability
Apple have set a personal best for product roll-outs with the iPad 3, securing an on sale date of 16th March in the UK, US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Switzerland and the US Virgin Islands, with a plethora of other countries receiving the third iteration of the tablet the week after. In terms of how much you’ll be shelling out for the new iPad, prices have remained the same as the iPad 2, starting at £399/$499 for a 16GB Wifi model all the way to £659/$829 for a 64GB Wifi + 4G version.
Look out for Issue 106 of iCreate for a full guide to the new iPad and the iPhoto app with more hands-on photos.