I’m not the biggest fan of the 10″ tablet form factor, finding these devices can’t replace my Kindle, smartphone, or laptop. In fact, I kept trying to turn our original iPad into a netbook… via Bluetooth keyboard. However, I do find that tablets make a great travel accessory and there is something alluring in having all of the Internet in one’s lap via such a minimalist package yet with a sufficiently large screen. But, in speaking of that screen, content displayed on iPad 1 was distractingly pixelated compared to my other devices. So when rumors surfaced last year that Apple would drastically bump the iPad’s resolution from 1024×768 I found myself quite interested… although highly skeptical. There hadn’t ever been consumer grade panels at these resolutions and I couldn’t imagine what it might do to iPad pricing. 9 months later we have our answer.
The “new” iPad, aka iPad 3 or iPad HD, features a fairly stunning 2048×1536 resolution – a pixel count significantly higher than our 1080p HDTVs… yet also in a significantly smaller package. Of course, Apple generally markets using more human terminology and they’re expanding the range of their “Retina Display” line to now include the iPad, as at normal viewing distances, most will not be able to discern individual screen pixels. Also significant is Apple’s ability to retain iPad 2 pricing, starting at $499. And I purchased the new iPad simply because I can comfortably afford the absolute very best mobile display. Whereas, the very best large screen television or projector remain out of reach for most. Driving home a point that, while historically the folks in Cupertino have been known to apply an “Apple tax,” the company has been so successful in recent years that they’ve hit a scale where they determine supplier pricing and drive down component costs – flummoxing their competitors who frequently seem to offer lesser products at higher fees.
The new iPad is quite functionally similar to its predecessor with the exception of the new screen and optional LTE connectivity. The rear-facing camera also sees a significant bump in performance but, for most, that’s wasted engineering and component costs – more attention should have been paid to the front-facing camera used for Skype or Facetime video communication. But, other than that (and a warm rear left corner), there’s not much to fault with the new iPad and I’d certainly recommend it to anyone in the market for a 10″ tablet. Not only is Apple’s hardware largely superior, their app ecosystem is unmatched. And, as I continue to wrestle with ways to use the iPad, I expect its utility to increase as software offerings mature. (In the 7″ space, it’s hard to beat Amazon’s $199 Android-based Kindle Fire and marketplace despite uninspiring hardware.)