When Apple dubbed its latest tablet "the iPad," many of us began calling it "the new iPad," perhaps a more apt name for the device. For many buyers, this iPad will be a new one, an upgrade from an older model.
Consider that Apple sold 15.4 million tablets between October and December of last year alone: That's a whole lot of customers with an iPad 2 that's less than six months old, who are now wondering whether to buy the newest model. With Apple touting its "Resolutionary" device -- improved Retina display, faster 4G LTE capability and better camera -- as the best iPad ever, it's reasonable to think that many Americans aren't as happy to own an iPad 2 now as they were on Christmas morning.
In fact, I believe we have video footage of the moment that all the people who received the iPad 2 in December heard that a newer, better iPad was coming out just three months after they got theirs:
So, ultimate First World problem: You own an iPad 2 and can't decide whether to upgrade to the new iPad. How do you choose? Here are a few things to consider:
THAT'LL BE HOW MUCH?
The new iPad costs just as much as the old iPad, with a 16GB Wi-Fi-only model going for $499 at the low end and a 64GB 4G model going for $829 (plus the cost of a data plan from AT&T or Verizon).
But here's a riddle for you: When is $499 not really $499?
When you can get hundreds of dollars back by selling your iPad 2 online, that's when.
Think of your iPad 2 as a rebate coupon. Right now, a Wi-Fi-only iPad 2 in mint condition fetches almost $250 on NextWorth, the electronics trade-in website, and up to $300 on Amazon. That means that if you were to buy a new $500 Wi-Fi iPad after selling your Wi-Fi iPad 2 to one of these sites, you would essentially be spending somewhere between $200 and $250.
If that doesn't sound like too much money to you, then go ahead and trade up. If your wife doesn't drive two Cadillacs -- or if you're just not convinced -- then it's time to decide whether Apple has added a feature to the new iPad for which you can justify shelling out that kind of cash.
GETTIN' A RETINA?
This isn't a question of whether the iPad New is better than the iPad Two: It is. Rather, it's a question of whether it's worth your upgrade money. And that "worth" is most likely measured in how you value the new Retina display.
Yes, the resolution of the display has been doubled, and the number of pixels has been quadrupled. But this is about more than specs. The new iPad's display is not just one improved feature, but is rather the primary reason a customer would upgrade.
Ask yourself: How do you use your iPad now? If you use your iPad 2 primarily to check email and browse the web -- for short bursts of activity -- it might not be worth another $200. It's hard to imagine a crisper display making Facebook Farmville invitations much better or more meaningful than they already aren't.
If you use your iPad as a multimedia device, however, you might justify the expense. If you're also buying the new Apple TV box, for example, the new iPad will vastly, visibly enhance the maximum quality of videos you can stream from your tablet onto your television screen. Games, powered by the improved graphics processor, will look far crisper, as will high-definition photos and video you take with the iPad's much-improved 5-megapixel camera (no flash, though).
And the new Retina display seems most promising for readers and beach-goers.
'THE SUN ALSO RISES' AND THE SUN ALSO RISES
First, if you use your iPad as your primary e-reader, you should get the new model. One of the major shortcomings of the reading experience on the iPad 2 is that you're always aware that you're reading from an electronic screen. With the Retina display, it's much easier to "trick" your eyes into believing that you're reading from a printed page. The new iPad is, by all accounts, a bookworm's delight.
Second, the new iPad appears to be a tablet you can take out into the sun. Anyone who has tried to use the iPad 2 at the beach or at the pool or at an outdoor nudist colony of some sort knows that screen glare makes its use in direct sunlight all but impossible. The Retina display could change that -- Apple's promotional video features shots of people enjoying their tablet outdoors -- although it is still unclear if the new iPad will actually work that well. Display expert Ray Soneira of Display-Mate told me in an email that he expects the new iPad to "perform similarly to the iPad 2" under direct light -- not optimally, in other words.
I'll be waiting to read about how the new iPad performs in sunlight before taking the dive into the Retina pool.
WHERE'S THE MONEY, LEBOWSKI?
The new iPad is nearly identical in form factor, size, thickness and weight to your iPad 2. It runs the same operating system with the same applications from the same App Store. You still can't remove the battery, there's no HDMI out port, and you can't expand the storage with an SD card.
Your decision to purchase then pivots on your need for that display.
- If you play graphics-intensive games like "Infinity Blade" on the iPad, you might need that display.
- If you read books and magazines on the iPad, you might need that display.
- If you plan to do a lot of photo and video editing on the iPad, you might need that display.
- If you plan to use the iPad as a digital camera or video camera, you will definitely need the new camera.
- If you stare at your iPad for hours each day, you might need that display.
Finally, if you travel often or use your iPad where Wi-Fi isn't readily available, you might need that 4G LTE. AT&T and Verizon's 4G networks are noticeably faster than their 3G counterparts, and both carriers are expected to spend billions in the coming years to build out and improve their networks. I am assuming, however, that most of you use your iPad 2 at work and at home on Wi-Fi.
The new iPad is not a slam-dunk, must-have upgrade if you already have an iPad 2. But that crisp, almost photographic display will certainly tempt many whose eyes are sore and whose piggy banks are full.
Check out the slideshow to see the 11 biggest things you need to know about the new iPad.
The photo above shows the difference between the iPad 2's 1,024 x 768 pixel display and the new iPad's high-definition Retina display, which has double the resolution and four times the pixels (2,048 x 1,536 pixels). Apple has described a Retina display as "pixel density is so high your eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels." And how does it stack up to other tablet displays? GDGT's Ryan Block said of his first hands-on with the new device: "It's the best display I've ever seen. Anywhere, period."
Apple's March 7 event marked a first for Apple, the arrival of 4G LTE connectivity on a mobile device. Purchased with a two-year contract from either AT&T or Verizon, a 4G iPad will, according to The Wall Street Journal, "allow users to connect a[t] speeds roughly 10 times faster than current 3G data networks." 4G models will also "work on any 3G network," per GigaOm. New iPad models equipped with this unique feature, however, will cost users slightly more than models without 4G. (More on this later.)
The new iPad may look pretty similar to the old one, but it's packing some serious hardware upgrades within its thin frame. These include a faster processor, the "quad-core" 1GHz Apple A5X, which Apple claims to offer twice the processing power of the A5 CPU (found in the iPad2) and four times the graphics-rendering power of the Tegra 3 processor found in many Android tablets, per Wired's live blog of the event. Gizmodo argues that Apple has also probably upped the device's RAM, "if only to handle the new resolution."
The new iPad did not get Apple standout iPhone 4S feature, the voice-activated virtual personal assistant, Siri. What it did get was Voice Dictation, which will be a blessing for anyone who has ever tried to type on the iPad's tricky virtual keyboard. To use the handy new feature, just tap the microphone icon on the keyboard and start talking. Current languages supported by dictation include U.S., U.K. and Australian English as well as Japanese, French and German.
While the new iPad offers quite a bit more than the iPad 2 in terms of display, hardware, and connectivity, the outside remains almost identical to its predecessor, measuring 9.5 x 7.31 inches. As expected, the biggest difference between the updated Apple tablet and its predecessor is its thickness...
Compared to the .34 inch iPad 2, the new iPad measures .37 inches deep, according to Apple's website. In addition, the new iPad has .11 pounds on the iPad 2, weighing in at 1.44 lbs. The 4G version of the new iPad is even heavier, weighing in at a whopping 1.46 lbs.
The new iPad boasts 5-megapixel rear-facing iSight camera that shoots 1,080p HD video. The iPad 2's rear camera was only .7-megapixels and recorded video in a paltry 720p. iPhoto, Apple's photo-editing software, is now available for the iPad. The app can be used for editing, effects, beaming photos between devices and sending finished products to iCloud or social networking accounts. The app also lets users create photo journals, digital scrapbooks into which users can insert maps, notes and weather widgets. The new iPhoto app costs $4.99 and is available today.
The 4G version of the new iPad also comes with a feature called Personal Hotspot, which "can be used to share the fast network connection on your iPad with up to 5 other devices using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or USB," according to an Apple press release. Currently, this feature is available only for Verizon customers.
Even though the new features like Retina Display and 4G connectivity will be consuming a lot more juice, a larger, more powerful battery will keep the new tablet charged for the same amount of time as the previous model. Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, had the following to say about the battery during Apple's Wednesday event (per GDGT): "You may recall we claim 10 hours of battery life, and 9 hours on 3G. The new iPad delivers the same 10 hours of battery life, and 4G is 9 hours."
The WiFi-only iPad starts at $499 for the 16GB then jumps to $599 for the 32GB and $699 for the 64GB. The 4G version starts at $629 for 16GB and tops out at $829 for the 64GB version. The iPad is available for pre-order now and will begin shipping on March 16. [CORRECTION: An earlier version of this slideshow incorrectly listed the pricing of the WiFi-only iPad.]
Along with Apple's announcement of the new iPad came a league of updated apps that will put the device's Retina Display to good use. According to Engadget, all of the stock apps have been updated, optimized, and scaled up so text will automatically be rendered in high resolution. In addition to uniform updates, several native Apple apps also received new features. Garage Band, for example, will now allow you to save creations to and easily share them through iCloud. Also, according to MacWorld, users will now be able to add an automatic string orchestra to their creations through the Smart Strings feature and fine-tune their recordings with Garage Band's Note Editor. Apple's updated iMovie app will feature more advanced editing tools and will enable sharing of videos in 1080p resolution to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, and Apple TV, The Verge reported. The new iMovie will also let users cut trailers while recording video, take advantage of nine different genre templates, and incorporate custom soundtracks from famous composers. In addition to its own apps, Apple also introduced a new generation of apps made specifically with the new iPad's higher resolution and enhanced hardware capabilities in mind. According to Engadget, these apps came courtesy of third-party developers like game-maker Namco, which previewed its jet combat simulator SkyGamblers, and Epic Games, the developer behind popular role-playing sword-fighting game Infinity Blade and creator of the new Retina display-optimized Infinity Blade: Dungeons. In addition, 3-D design software manufacturer Autodesk showed off its Sketchbook app, which allows for a whole new level of sketch detail thanks to the new iPad's improved display.