Apple’s new iPad is upon us. Does it deliver? The bar is so astoundingly high for Apple that anything less than jaw-dropping translates to a disappointment. So where does the new iPad fall?
When the iPhone 4s was released last October, the upgrades were strong, if predictable, but lacked the titillation we had come to expect, often via a new physical design. The playing fields between these two devices are quite different, however. The iPhone, while massively popular, has significant competition. Several Droid phones are proving to be a valid alternative and even out-tech some of the iPhone’s lofty specs. The iPad is a different animal altogether; it is without peer in the post-pc tablet space. Much in the way the iPod dominated despite competition on all sides from wannabe MP3 players, the iPad has become a platform unto itself. This notion may have motivated the move from the iPhone’s style of naming and renaming (3G, 3Gs, 4, 4s) to the iPod’s lack of suffix. With each release, the latest iPod was simply “the new iPod”. During the keynote, Apple CEO (and uber power gay) Tim Cook rather deliberately dropped the “the” in reference to the iPad and simply called it “iPad”, further underlining this notion that this is not merely a tablet device called “an iPad”, it IS “iPad”, hear it roar.
And roar it does. Already a processing powerhouse, the new iPad has doubled again it’s processing speed and with the adoption of the super high res retina screen, it needs the horsepower. Coming in under the iPhone’s stunning 362 pixel per inch display, the iPad still boasts an impressive 264-ppi screen, earning it Retina Display status. The new specs give the 9.7” tablet a higher resolution screen that the 52” HD TV in your living room. In fact, about 1,000,000 pixels higher. This means full-resolution content streaming from your iPad to your television would actually have to be scaled DOWN.
A handful of other enhancements were also announced, including a higher res camera capable of recording full HD video, though as with all such announcements, one listens as closely to what is not said as to what is said. Absent was the usual ballyhoo over the device’s thin profile, the reason being that the new iPad is actually .03” thicker than the iPad 2. Hardly a deal breaker but notable nonetheless. It’s also slightly heavier, with the new iPad weighing in at 1.44 pounds and the iPad 2 at 1.33 (for the WIFI-only models, the 3G/4G versions are slightly heavier still).
Gamers, notoriously snobbish and admirably loyal in their tech choices, have begun to embrace iPad as a valid gaming platform. With games as stunning and eminently playable as Galaxy on Fire 2 and Infinity Blade rocking iOS, it’s hard to argue otherwise. All eyes were on Nintendo with the release of it’s 3DS handheld, as it was the first major portable release in the post-iPad/iPhone gaming era. Based on the impressive first-year sales number of 4.5 million units sold in the US, there is some life yet in handheld game-dedicated devices, though the next 3 years will be very telling indeed.
When the iPad initially launched, many early adopters (myself included), struggled to find it’s place in our technology mix. The platform has matured, however, and not only eaten up mobile market share, but created an entirely new space all its own. In 2 short years iPad has transcended its core consumer market and spread into education with iBooks textbooks, medical apps that aid doctors in patient care, and beyond. As severe as the lame factor is for sporting an MP3 player (even the term seems archaic, doesn’t it?) other than an iPod or iPhone, so it will be to have a tablet device on your lap besides iPad. A few eReaders have a reprieve here and carve out a piece of the market; most notably, the popular and well-priced Kindle Fire – but we aren’t going to see these devices in the boardroom, operating room or the laps of tech enthusiasts anytime soon.