Introduction, Design and Ergonomics

Is the new iPad worth your money?

Editor’s note: You will find us calling this unit the "iPad 3" even though Apple doesn’t really call it that. The confusion involved in calling it "the new iPad" over and over would just get slightly tedious.  Enjoy the review!!

Apple’s iPad has been a roaring success. More than a few people had doubts that tablets could find a market, but the sneers shot in its direction at the launch of the original are now only memories. iPad has become a household name.

But it’s not easy being popular. Everyone is watching your next move. The iPhone 4S is a perfect example. Though it improved on the iPhone 4 it was still considered by some to be a disappointment. The bar had been set too high. 

That’s certainly a possibility with the iPad 3. Rumor-mongering went out of control prior to the release. Many were expecting a quad-core processor, while others suggested that the display would offer haptic feedback. Let’s have a look at what was actually shipped.

Only some of the hardware has been changed. The new iPad is still running a dual-core A5 at 1 GHz, but the graphics have been upgraded to the “quad-core” PowerVR SFX 543MP4, which is essentially a doubling of the iPad 2’s PowerVR SFX 543MP2. RAM has increased to 1GB, a necessary upgrade that Apple doesn’t speak of in press releases.

The display is the big news, of course. Its somewhat unusual 2048×1536 resolution packs four times the pixels of the iPad 2. Yet the larger display requires nearly twice as much battery to power it, resulting in an increase to 42.5 Wh from 25 Wh in the previous model. 

Like the iPhone 4S, the iPad 3 is a lot like the old version on steroids. But the upgrades to the tablet are more significant and have forced Apple to redesign the exterior. Let’s see if this new tablet is up to the company’s reputation for sexy hardware.

Design and Ergonomics

If you’ve messed with any of the newly released Android tablets – or an iPad 2 – you’ll notice that the new model feels a bit chunky the instant you pick it up. This is not your imagination. While most devices become slimmer and thinner as they’re upgraded the iPad has put on weight. Wi-Fi models are 50 grams more than the previous generation and the chassis has gained an additional .6 mm around the waist. This puts total weight at 1.44 pounds and total thickness at .37 inches. 

The difference between the iPad 3 and some new Android tablets, like the Transformer Prime or Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, is readily apparent. There’s no practical short-term impact, but holding the new iPad for long periods of time is a bit more tiring than some competitors.

The 4:3 display ratio results in a tablet that’s more square than the competition. That’s a good thing. Getting your hands around the iPad is easy, particularly when holding it width-wise. My attempts to use the 16:9 tablets in the same manner have always resulted in failure because my fingers simply aren’t long enough to hold the tablet in that position and comfortably reach the center of the touch screen.

Aesthetically, it’s an iPad. I purchased the white model, but I’ve handled the black model as well. Both are beautiful. The build quality of the tablet is precise and there is no surface that looks as if it was forgotten at some point during design. Some Android tablets on the market aren’t hard on the eyes, but the iPad is still the king of quality. There’s nothing on the market that’s as attractive, nor is there anything that feels as nice in-hand.

Normally I’d talk about ports, but this is an Apple product, so there are none besides the charging connector. I could have a lively argument about this, but there’s no point. I’m sure that most people reading this review are aware that connectivity is a weak spot of Apple products in general and that the lack of ports is by design. That’s just the way it is. 

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