Why I Bought Apple's New iPad


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.)

32 thoughts on “Why I Bought Apple's New iPad”

  1. Is the display really that much better on the new iPad?

    Apple is touting resolutions better than a HDTV, which it is, but the screen is so small that I wouldn’t think that would matter for the same reason that 1080p on a 20″ TV doesn’t matter.


    The chart doesn’t go down to 10″, but using the spreadsheet from the article, 1.5 feet is the farthest distance for a 10″ screen where a 1080p resolution would start to be noticeable. To see the full benefits of 1080p on a 10″ display, the table would have to be held less than 1.1 feet from the eyes. A 1536p resolution would need to be even closer.

    I normally hold my iPad 2 at a bent arms lengths, which is around 13 to 15″. At that distance the new iPad might be slightly better with text, but there wouldn’t really be much of a difference for videos and photos.

    Do you really see that big a difference between the new iPad and the iPad 2?

    Personally, I could afford a new iPad, but considering I bought the iPad 2 3G 64 GB last year and I’m happy with it, I don’t see the need to do so. I don’t buy a new computer every year and I don’t see the need to buy a new table every year either. Especially when apps will be coded to the lowest common denominator, which is the original iPad.

  2. I had to jump, but then again I pretty much always have at least with the ipads. The 2 was quite bump both form and features from the 1. I did this one now, pretty much as I wanted to have LTE for travel and like the plan pricing and hotspot offered by the verizon model. As for the display, it IS very nice but while it IS all that the difference between the ipad 2 and this one while of course noticeable it is NOT like going from say SD to HD in a television. This is most likely due to the quality of the ipad 2 display. Even photos, I can pixel peep 18MB images on both and I CAN see the difference, but I would most likely have to point out the difference for others to see. It is a bit more contrasty, which is nice and I don’t mind the extra 2 oz in weight, but I CAN feel it. Mine doesn’t get hot, but I haven’t cooked with it yet (meaning, streaming video on LTE)

  3. Noah, I didn’t partake in the LTE option – there’s generally WiFi in places I find myself and I selectively add tethering to my phone plan as/if needed (when WiFi is unavailable or I’m concerned about security). If the carrier’s data buckets were more reasonably priced or shared with my cellphone plan, it’d probably be a different story.

    Morac, for me it’s very noticeable. Is it enough to upgrade for a 2? Hard to say. It’s basically the same device… with a better screen. But I was quite distracted by the earlier screen and coming from an iPad 1, so it was a much easier decision. I agree that video probably won’t look much better as the resolutions being streamed are the same. Although the colors/saturation do look enhanced.

  4. I wasn’t as “wow’ed” as some of the early reviews for the screen upon first use. But after using the new iPad for a couple days now, I definitely appreciate the sharpness of text and pictures. Solid update for the iPad, but agree that it’s a tough decision if you already have a 2.

  5. Morac,

    You are sort of missing the point. Marketing message aside, the reason for the iPad’s exact resolution is that it is double that of the old iPad and more pixels than you can perceive. This provides for backwards compatibility and ensures you will never see a pixel again.

    Bottom line is the new iPad screen is noticeably better than the old one when reading text, looking at pictures and watching hd video. If that is worth a refresh is up to you, but I sold my old one and bought the new one and it cost me just over $200 (the resale of the 64gb sucks). That is worth it to my eyes.

  6. My take on my new iPad (3rd generation)

    1. Display – great.
    2. Extra weight – not so great.
    3. Need for new cover – not so good.
    4. Battery indicator seems to drain much faster than my iPad 2.
    5. Speed increase – don’t notice it generally but when I edit video the new iPad is much, much, much better.

  7. Ben,

    Oh I get why Apple went with the 2048×1536 resolution, I was just wondering if it’s really that noticeable in day to day use.

    My main annoyance with the 2048×1536 resolution (even though I know Apple had to go with that), is that it really is overkill and updated apps are now a lot larger. Not much of a difference when a 5 MB app jumps to 16 MB, but when a 300 MB app jumps to 1 GB, that’s a big jump. I have a 64 GB iPad and a 32 GB iPhone and it’s starting to hurt me as apps update. I feel sorry for those with 16 GB models (or smaller).


    3. From what I’ve read the Smartcover is the same for the iPad 2 and the new iPad. I’m assuming you are talking about a 3rd party full device cover.

    5. The new iPad has the same CPU clock speed as the iPad 2 so there is no speed increase in that aspect. The quad-core graphics offset the increase in resolution so that really should be a wash as well. My guess is that it’s the doubling of the memory (1 GB as opposed to 512 MB) that’s making the difference.

  8. Richard, I think “retinata” is what they call it in Italy. But I’ve correct it for our largely American audience. ;) Regarding weight, I came from the ipad one… so it’s still an improvement. However, I’m thinking 7-8″ might be a more suitable size for me. Looking forward to seeing what a Kindle Fire 2 might look like and if Apple will launch a competitor at that size.

    Morac, yeah universal apps now suck and my phone is feeling the pinch. We need to put more graphical resources in the cloud, use smarter design, or create disctint app packages – I’m sure there’s a way to gracefully do that on Apple’s end: One software title has four packages, or whatever, and the App Store delivers the one specific to your device type. So it’d be fragmented, but not entirely apparent to the end-user. Hm.

  9. I’m really interested in the new iPad to replace my original iPad, but I’m extremely concerned about the ongoing security problems that Apple has with their store. My account got hacked and while Apple quickly refunded the charges, they wouldn’t tell me anything about the nature of the hack without a subpoena. Luckily I did not have a credit card tied to my account, just credit.

  10. Morac,

    My setup is the same as yours and I hope that Apple comes up with a solution to all these bloated apps. I had to remove podcasts and music from my iPad completely to make room for the larger apps and 1080p videos.

  11. I just can’t get myself to pull the trigger on the new iPad. My iPad 2 works fine and I really only use it as a browser while I watch TV or for the TiVo app. Occasionally I use it to glance at a free book, magazine or comic, but not enough in my mind to justify the upgrade expense. I just find if I am more apt to put the iPad down and hop on the nearest PC if I want to type anything.

    @Greg Yeah Apple seems to have an issue with credit getting wiped out. The same thing happened to be and there are some very large threads on their forums with the same thing. Mine was some random app I had only just downloaded that was free and next thing I know I have nothing of my $50 giftcard left. I didn’t even open the app yet somehow I got a receipt for purchases inside the app.

  12. “I hope that Apple comes up with a solution to all these bloated apps.”

    They already have. Upgrade more often.

    And buy more flash memory, which is where Apple’s biggest profit margin comes in the iPad. (The 16GB is actually a relatively low profit margin device by Apple standards, but the 64GB is where the real money gets made.) I’m sure rev 4 will have a 128GB option, which will be reason enough to upgrade.

    Universal apps are a feature, not a bug, from the POV of Cupertino. Discrete app packages, delivered to the specs of your hardware in a manner invisible to the user is not an arrangement in the best interests of Apple shareholders and management.

  13. Chucky,

    I’d bet all the money I have that the shareholders have nothing to do with universal apps. Apple is not motivated by the bottom line, it isn’t in their culture. Read the Jobs biography, and I’m sure you’d agree.

    And I have the 64 gb iPad, so it isn’t like there is an upsell for me. I’m sure it’s just a problem that Apple didn’t consider before.

  14. Chucky – universal apps are of great benefit to me. We have two retina iPhones plus and old iPhone my daughter uses, plus an iPad 2 and one new iPad. Not having to buy multiple versions of apps for the house has saved us much money. I prefer that to the app developers who release separate ‘HD’ versions which cost me again when I want a phone and tablet version.

  15. I pulled the trigger on the 16GB WiFi White Model. When I found out about the free hotspot with the LTE iPad I decided to pull the trigger on the 32GB Verizon LTE version. Its on order for delivery in early April. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with the WiFi-only model.

    This is my first iPad. Its quite a change from my 7″ Android Galaxy Tab. Its soooo much better from a speed perspective but I have to say the size and smart cover can be annoying compared to my Samsung tab. I’m not convinced the 10″ form factor is the ideal size for a tablet.

  16. “Chucky – universal apps are of great benefit to me. We have two retina iPhones plus and old iPhone my daughter uses, plus an iPad 2 and one new iPad. Not having to buy multiple versions of apps for the house has saved us much money.”

    Apple could very easily enable developers to upload multiple versions of graphics of a single app with versions dependent on machine specs.

    That way, you’d still buy one copy per Apple ID, but good developers would tick a box when they did their builds so your iPad 2, iPhone, and iPad 3 would get the biggest versions of the graphics they could take advantage of, all in a manner invisible to the end-user. Bad developers wouldn’t bother. No change to you, except more free space on older/smaller gear.

    But Apple doesn’t want that for pretty petty bottom line reasons, and their mandatory-use developer tools are a reflection of that.

    “Apple is not motivated by the bottom line, it isn’t in their culture.”

    Like all corporations, Apple is motivated by the bottom line.

    I’ve got no problem with that. What I do dislike is that until about 5 years ago, Apple had a corporate culture that didn’t do subtle software-based things to semi-force folks to upgrade before the end of the lifecycle of their gear.

    In other words, in the old culture, you bought Apple gear, and it’d function just as well 3 years out as it did when you bought it. Now, that culture is dead. In place is a corporate culture that seeks to subtly cripple older gear still within its lifecycle in an effort to speed up the upgrade cycle beyond just folks who want the new features now.

    And that’s just one example of many of how their consumer-facing attitudes have shifted in the last 5 years. Apple still makes nice gear. But they’ve done a 180 degree turn in their corporate culture since they took over the world. Lack of viable competition will do weird things to companies. Their corporate culture is about the same as your cableco’s corporate culture these days.

  17. Chucky explained that above. Higher profit margin in the larger memory (storage) devices.

    My 16GB iPad 1 runs out of room regularly now. I have to be pretty select in the apps I have installed. No MP3s, Photos, or Videos can fit. I’m dreading the updates to apps for the iPad 3’s resolution.


  18. @Trey
    My experience with Snugg cases for iPad 2 is that they fit fine on the new iPad but…

    The magnets in the cover which turn the screen on/off no longer work with the new iPad.

  19. Tres, I don’t have any recommendations yet. Many iPad 2 cases do fit, but it’s by accident and not design with varying degrees of success as Richard indicates. I’ll be waiting a few weeks for manufacturers to bless or redesign. In the meantime, I have a universal tablet stand we’re using. (I’m not a fan of Apple’s official smart cover – it leaves the back unprotected and it pops off in a bag in my experience.)

    On the other topic, I’m still hopeful that Apple will handle “universal” in the cloud as Chucky and I proposed to reclaim device storage.

  20. I trade my wife’s ipad 2 into amazon for 375 right before the announcement, so it was totally worth it to me as it cost me 125 to use an ipad for a year. THe Belkin Snap case for the ipad 2 fits the new ipad (it’s snug though).

    The screen is nicer for sure. My wife complains about the weight a bit. I used to think the iPad 2’s screen looked a littley pixely compared to the transformer prime. I will be interested on how the transformer infinity looks…

  21. I’m somewhat shocked at the increased battery drain. Based on the teardowns and other analysis I’ve seen the new batteries are the same energy density (no progress being made in battery tech=bad), just 70% bigger, in order to accomodate the 70% larger power draw. While we all thought that LTE would be the big power suck, it turns out that its mostly the display. Turning on LTE only cuts an hour off your battery life.

    Putting out the same amount of brightness using more dots takes 70% more power (well, a little of that probably goes to the GPU upgrade, but still)? That seems crazy to me, I wonder if there’s something they can do about it longer term.

    The weight was already too heavy in my mind, though I’ll live with it. The longer charge time also seems like a problem. I wonder if they’ll end up having to bump up the charger current sometime soon?

    I agree with Dave that I’m not certain a 10″ display is the ideal size. Perhaps something in the 8-9″ area with the original 1024×768 display…

  22. Yeah, it’s pretty shocking that the size of the battery is so dramatically increased… yet run time remains the same. Charging takes forever. Wonder if they’re going to make some sort of quick charge power brick? My laptops charges much quicker…

  23. tivoboy,

    Four times actually. They doubled the horizontal and vertical pixels, but you have to multiply the numbers to get the actual pixel count.

    iPad 2: 1024×768 = 786,432 pixels

    new iPad (still a dumb name): 2048×1536 = 3,145,728 pixels.

    3145728 / 786,432 = 4x

    The iPad 2 has a dual core GPU which means the new iPad only has double the graphics power of the iPad 2, yet it has to drive four times the number of pixels. That means the quad core GPU in the new iPad really has to work twice as hard as the dual core GPU in the iPad 2. That would explain the battery drain as well as the temperature increase when active.

  24. I think while the resolution is 4x times as much on screen the number of LED’s increased in only 2x. I know that doesn’t seem logical, but that’s what someone reported an anantech I believe.

  25. “My poor little 16GB iPhone is getting crushed by all these “retina” iPad updates.”


    “I’m still hopeful that Apple will handle “universal” in the cloud as Chucky and I proposed to reclaim device storage.”

    Are you hopeful that Apple will FedEx you a pony too?

    It’s really a feature, not a bug. That iPhone sounds due for an upgrade to me.

    Reports are that the iPad 4 will again quadruple pixels, in an effort to close the readability gap between it and the $79 Kindle. While some sources worry that the external gasoline powered generator necessary to power the unit could spark consumer backlash, as well as fires, sources say that Apple thinks the expanded app size propagating throughout the iOS ecosystem will generate enough profit to make the whole thing work for Apple, despite the fire-related lawsuits expected. Can’t have six month old gear cannibalizing sales of new gear, after all.

  26. I upgraded from an iPad 1 as well (kept my unlimited data on AT&T). The new one is a huge improvement although I can understand why people with iPad 2s are not impressed. I was actually in an area with LTE coverage yesterday and was very happy with the speeds I was getting:

    Download: 24.58 Mbps
    Upload: 13.11 Mbps
    Ping: 38 ms

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