Thursday, March 8, 2012

Apple announces third-gen iPad, calling it "the new iPad"

In the special event a few hours ago, on March 7 in California, Apple unveiled the third-generation of their flagship tablet line, the iPad. Instead of calling it the iPad 3 or the iPad HD as many predicted, they simply seem to be calling it the "new iPad". New features and improvements seem very underwhelming to me. Here's an overview.
Retina Display
The new iPad boasts an iPhone 4/4S like Retina Display, with pixels so small that the human eye cannot detect. This makes for extremely sharp graphics and crisp text. The iPad therefore has a screen resolution that is higher than computer monitors that most of you use and even higher than many HDTVs: 2048 x 1536. The iPad also now supports 1080p video playback.

The Retina Display was a long-awaited feature that will be a selling point for many. It was expected on the iPad 2, which never got it. This is the only really awesome feature on the new iPad.

Apple A5X system-on-a-chip
Of course, the new iPad has a better processor. Instead of an A6 CPU, they have come out with an underwhelming, still-dual-core A5X chip that powers the Retina Display. Apple says that it has quad-core graphics processing power.

4G LTE support
As rumored, the new iPad also boasts super-fast 4G cellular support on several networks around the world. When 4G is not available, you will be able to use 3G connectivity as well, obviously. As always, the iPad will be unlocked and usable when a micro-SIM card is available.

Moreover, the new iPad can also be used as a personal hotspot to provide an Internet connection to up to five different devices at once, just like the iPhone.

5MP iSight camera
The iPad camera has now been named iSight, like those on Macs. The third-generation iPad has a camera similar to the one on the iPhone 4S. Also, it can record video in 1080p HD compared to the 720p on the iPad 2. There is also automatic video stabilization to prevent shaking and blurs.

Other announcements
iOS 5.1
The new iPad will come with iOS 5.1, which is out now as an over-the-air update for devices currently running iOS 5.0.1. (To update, you can go to Settings, General, Software Update. If you don't see the update right now, you might have to wait before it shows up for you.)

New Apple TV
Nope, the rumored Apple HDTV is nowhere in sight. But Apple did announce an update to the currently available Apple TV set-top box. The new Apple TV will finally be able to play 1080p. it also has iCloud support. It will be available for $99 in the US and will be on sale next week on.

New apps and updates
Apple also released the iPhoto app (for $4.99) on the App Store for iOS, completing its iLife suite on their mobile OS. They also updated all of their iOS apps to support the new iPad's Retina Display. They also updated iMovie and GarageBand with some new features, such as trailer-creation for iMovie, and iCloud support and 4-device orchestra features for GarageBand.

The verdict
The new iPad is not really worth updating to from the iPad 2. But if you have the original iPad, I would say it is time to upgrade now. The lack of Siri, as per my prediction and the same old design (which even got ever-so-slightly thicker and heavier) along with only minor upgrades to several aspects have made for an underwhelming new model for me.