It looks like early reviews for Apple’s third-generation iPad are out, and there’s a lot to love by early tech pundits out there who have gotten some early and extensive hands-on time with the slate. Reviewers are heralding some of the new features of the new iPad that keeps the device sitting squarely with its best in class title, including the Retina Display, fast 4G LTE mobile broadband connectivity, new camera system, and Siri dictation. With early positive reviews, those who have pre-ordered an iPad 3 for this Friday’s official launch will have a lot to look forward to.
According to MacWorld, the new iPad isn’t reinventing the wheel and adds some new polish to an otherwise successful product from Apple.
But the changes Apple has wrought with this iPad aren’t about making it thinner or lighter or faster, but about making it better. And on nearly every front, the third-generation iPad is markedly better than its predecessor.
One of the first changes that users will notice on the iPad is the new high-density Retina Display, which has more pixels than your HDTV sitting in your living room packed into an even smaller screen. “Yes, this display is outrageous. It’s stunning. It’s incredible,” Joshua Topolsky of The Verge writes. “I’m not being hyperbolic or exaggerative when I say it is easily the most beautiful computer display I have ever looked at. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that you hold this in your hands, or maybe it’s the technology that Apple is utilizing, or maybe it’s the responsiveness of iOS — but there’s something almost bizarre about how good this screen is. After the launch event, I described the screen as “surreal,” and I still think that’s a pretty good fit.”
Walt Mossberg of All Things D agrees with the Retina Display, noting that “It has the most spectacular display I have ever seen in a mobile device.” The iPad 3 also has better saturation on the screen as well: “The same photos I had enjoyed on the older model looked much better on the new one, not only because of the increased resolution, but because Apple claims it increased color saturation by 44%.”
Mossberg claims that the small improvements made help to make the overall package a lot better: “If you already own an iPad 2, and like it, you shouldn’t feel like you have to rush out to buy the new one. However, for those who use their iPads as their main e-readers, and those who use it frequently while away from Wi-Fi coverage, this new model could make a big difference.”
A caveat here is that while the increased resolution will be a gain for many users, David Pogue of the New York Times cautions that apps and content will consume more space: “Tests performed byMacworld.com revealed that the graphics in Retina-ready apps consume two to three times as much of the iPad’s nonexpandable storage than pre-Retina apps.” Essentially, users will want to have more storage for the new iPad, and the 16 GB base model may not be the best fit in the end.
Another improvement that Apple is touting is the new A5X processor, which many reviewers say deliver the same processing power as the iPad 2, but comes with improved graphics performance. Apple is saying that it’s a quad-core graphics chip.
Reviewers are also highlighting Siri dictation, which doesn’t handle your voice commands, but can type for you if you don’t want to use Apple’s on-screen keyboard. Along with Siri dictation, users are also happy with 4G speeds. 4G speeds were noted to be slightly slower on Verizon’s network, though Verizon offers a larger coverage footprint, than on rival AT&T’s smaller network. However, as we have noted in our reviews of 4G LTE networks with Android smartphones and tablets, the speeds are a joy and will make consumption of data more pleasurable. Just be careful as that pleasure will cost you with tiered, non-contract data plans.
No matter which network you choose, though, 4G will be fast. TechCrunch’s MG Siegler writes, “Yesterday, I clocked the new iPad using LTE at over 40 mbps down and 20 up on Verizon’s network. That’s about twice as fast as my current home cable broadband. For good measure, I tethered the new iPad to my iPhone 4S to compare it to Verizon’s 3G speeds. It’s about 40x faster for downloading.”
There’s also the improved camera system which takes iPhone 4-quality photos with a lens system designed for the iPhone 4S. With 4G connectivity and apps such as those in Apple’s iLife and iWork suite, users will have a system that’s just as good for content consumption as it is for production. Titles like Pages, Keynote, and Numbers will help corporate users adopt the iOS slate while iPhoto and iMovie, coupled with the new iSight camera, will help creatives take the tablet to new challenges. And for musicians, there’s also Garage Band as well. All these titles are optional App Store add-ons that will highlight the A5X processor and Retina Display on the new iPad.
Topolsky seems enamored enough with the tablet that when one reader asked, “Is it worth spending the extra $100 on this iPad instead of the iPad 2 for a new owner,” Topolsky responded with a terse, “Yes. Hell yes.” Combined with the iTunes ecosystem, plethora of apps and content, and iTunes Cloud, The Loop‘s Jim Dalrymple writes, “So, what did I like about the iPad? Simple — the experience. Nobody in the market today can touch the Apple experience.”
Notably absent from the early batches of review is Engadget’s.