You're Nuts If You Think There's A Better Tablet Than The iPad [REVIEW]

new ipad new york times

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

The first tablet I bought was an iPad, the original model that launched almost two years ago. I loved it. It wasn’t long before I was using the iPad more than my MacBook. 

But within a year it felt outdated. Apple released the svelte iPad 2, making my old iPad look look fat and clunky in comparison. Even Android tablets like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and Asus’ Transformer Prime felt radically better to hold than my iPad. It wasn’t long before I was back to my MacBook Air for most things.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about whether or not Apple’s new, third-generation iPad is worth the purchase if you already have an iPad 2. My answer? Probably not. 

But for everyone else looking for a tablet, the answer is yes. A big fat why-are-you-still-reading-this-and-not-at-the-Apple-Store-buying-a-new-iPad yes.

So in short, I’m glad I made the upgrade to the new iPad.

I’ve tested and reviewed a lot of tablets since Motorola’s Xoom kicked off the flood of Android devices last year. Even with this “minor” upgrade, the new iPad is still the best tablet I’ve ever used.

Is it perfect? No. But it’s hard to find many things to complain about.

Click here for photos of the new iPad >
The Display
Let’s be honest. You’re mostly curious about the new iPad’s Retina display. Over the last few day’s I’ve seen a lot of debate over whether or not the Retina display is really as great as Apple claims it is

I’ll make it simple for you: it is.

It’s so good that you’ll have a hard time going back to anything less than the Retina display’s resolution. Don’t believe me? Try this: use the new iPad for just a few hours, then pick up one of the older models. You’ll see what I mean.

I discovered the difference almost by accident when I pulled out my old iPad the other day. When I switched it on, I felt like something was wrong with my vision. The graphics appeared blurry and pixelated, even ugly. 

Now, I’ve never had a problem with my old iPad’s screen. I’ve always thought it was one of the best displays on a mobile device. 3D games like Infinity Blade looked amazing. Streaming videos from Netflix were crystal clear. But in a few short days I’ve been spoiled by the new iPad’s Retina display, as if my eyes had been trained to find pixelated screens a complete abomination. (You can’t see pixels on the new iPad with the naked eye.) The critics weren’t lying when they said the Retina display was the closest thing you’ll get to printed paper.

new ipadText and photos look amazing on the Retina display.

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

There is one major downside to the Retina display though, at least for the short term. Most apps haven’t been updated to match the new iPad’s resolution, so they tend to look blurry. This will change over the next several weeks as developers update their apps. In the meantime, they look horrible. For example, the text in Wired Magazine’s app is so pixelated it’s unreadable.

But the apps that were updated in time for the new iPad launch look incredible. My favourite so far is the New York Times app. The text is so crisp, it really does look like it’s print. The photos look better than anything you’ll see in a glossy magazine.

That’s pretty much the experience you’ll get with everything else on the iPad. I can’t do the Retina display justice by writing about. I can’t do it justice by posting a bunch of photos, either. You have to see it. 

Everything Else
I only have one problem with the new iPad: the battery. No, not the battery life. That’s still excellent. The new iPad lasts just as long as Apple says, about 10 hours. 

The problem with the battery is that it takes forever to charge, almost 6 hours in my tests. That’s because the new iPad has a massive new battery to keep the power-hungry Retina display running. Apple didn’t want to sacrifice the iPad’s reputation for incredible battery life just so it could add a gorgeous display.

For the first few days, my iPad never made it to a full charge. I was using it a lot between small bursts of charging sessions, so it felt like my battery was constantly treading water at about 50%. I suggest charging it overnight so you can get a full day’s use out of it.

new ipad

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

And yes, the new iPad does heat up after using it for a few minutes. It’s not enough to burn your skin, but it’s definitely noticeable. From what I’ve heard from readers and other iPad owners on Twitter, it seems like the heating issue affects most, but not all iPads.

Besides the Retina display, the next biggest upgrade on the new iPad is its ability to connect to 4G LTE networks on Verizon and AT&T. The iPad I’ve been using is a Wi-Fi only model, but I can tell you from experience that both Verizon and AT&T have excellent LTE networks. Many times, LTE can be a lot faster than your cable or DSL connection. 

The drawback to LTE is that it’s not available in many areas. Verizon has the largest LTE network, available in about 200 cities. AT&T’s LTE network is much smaller, but growing rapidly. If you’re trying to decide which carrier to go with, check out this handy guide.

The iPad’s camera also got a nice update. Now it’s a 5 MP shooter that also takes full 1080p HD video. I’m not a big fan of using a giant tablet to take photos or video, but the iPad’s camera does the job well enough. Still, it’s not as good as the camera in the iPhone 4S.

Beyond That, It’s Still The Same iPad
As with any iOS device, the iPad gives you access to the same excellent ecosystem of apps and digital content you’ve been enjoying for years. The App Store’s app selection is still much, much better than what you’ll find on Android tablets. In fact, after more than a year of supporting tablets, Google has yet to find a way to convince developers to make solid tablet-friendly apps. With the new iPad, you’re guaranteed to get the best apps. Period.

new ipad

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

Overall, the new iPad’s performance is nearly identical to the iPad 2’s. Yes, it has more memory and processing power, but it seems like a lot of that is used to run the intense graphics on the Retina display. Keep in mind, this isn’t a bad thing. The new iPad is still zippy. It won’t choke if you’re running a lot of apps or have a bunch of browser tabs open. It’s nearly perfect.

Should You Buy It?
As I said in the intro, the new iPad is not a worth shelling out another $499 or more if you already have an iPad 2. Aside from the screen and 4G LTE data speeds, there’s almost no difference in performance between the two tablets.

Everyone else should know that the new iPad is still the best tablet you can buy today. Yes, a few Android fans will complain it’s missing things like expandable storage and other ports. But for the vast majority of people looking for a new tablet, that won’t matter. 

And if the iPad’s $499 entry point turns you off, you can still buy the 16 GB iPad 2 for $399.

Looks nearly identical to the iPad 2

But the display makes all the difference

Photos can't do the Retina display justice

Docking connector at the bottom

Volume, orientation lock, and sleep button

Headphone jack at the top

The speaker grill is the same as the iPad 2's

The new camera shoots stills at 5 MP and video at 1080p

You can see the camera on the new iPad is a bit larger than the one on the iPad 2

iPad 3 on the left, iPad 2 on the right. See a difference?

That's the original iPad on the right. Look how far Apple has come in just two years

App icons are super crisp and clear

The New York Times app really shows off how powerful the display is. It's like reading a glossy magazine

The best way to read

Some apps like Wired aren't ready for the Retina display. Here the text is blurry

Graphics on games like Infinity Blade look great too

HD video is a delight to watch

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