Thursday, March 22, 2012

The new iPad--worth the extra dough?

I have had a few people ask me what I thought of the new iPad (the iPad 3).
I have had it about a week now and can certainly share my thoughts.
I was willing to pay for a new 64GB 4G iPad (AT&T) because I was trading up from the iPad 1 (64GB, 3G) and have been trying to use it instead of my laptop (Macbook Air 13") in most scenarios. The iPad 1 was demonstrably slower on many of the apps I frequently use and it was starting to drive me mad.
I was expecting:
- 4G connectivity (LTE and the HDSPA+)
- 2x the processing power
- better screen resolution (though only a nice to have benefit)
What did I get?
The 4G (HDSPA+, same as iPhone 4S) is actually pretty decent. From the rudimentary tests I have run (iPad's side by side,, etc), my guess is that it is 2-3x the normal 3G connection. In the week I have had it, I have seen 4G in almost every location I have been with it. I am happy with this feature.
The 4G LTE is VERY fast. My guess is 10-20x the normal 3G connectivity (technically only supposed to be 15x, but the improved process power probably helps). I was able to stream Netflix in my hotel room in San Jose with great quality and sustain it for 40 minutes (while only showing 1 bar on the signal strength indicator). Very pleased with this even though it is in a relatively small number of markets compared to Verizon.
The processor is a noticeable upgrade. Even on wi-fi, web pages load faster, the common apps I use whether for news, weather, DropBox, etc, all load faster and perform better. I am very happy with this feature as well.
The screen resolution is harder to tell. On video and photos, you can see the difference vs. the iPad 1. I realize many apps are still upgrading their image quality to take advantage of the new resolution. The kindle is easier to read (as is Zinio, etc). PDFs are clearer. There is now a 1080p option for video (which is obviously a bigger file than the 720p, but I am not sure you can appreciate the difference on the small screen. Again, this was a nice to have feature, not a needed one, but I am relatively happy with it so far.
All the noise about the heat issues? I don't run sustained hard core games for 45 minutes at a time, and have not experienced the heat while watching movies or using other applications. Not an issue for me so far.
Would I recommend one? If you have the iPad 1 and use it more than casually, I would suggest you upgrade, especially if you move around in non-wifi areas with it. I think if you have an iPad 2, probably a tougher sell unless the 4G is critical.
Chuck Parker

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