Worthy of the Hype?

4/21/2012 3:48:00 PM

I was in huge need of a new iPad. The iPad 2 that I had just bought last June had a surface scratch on the screen, and also had a deep crack towards the bottom. Additionally, I had bought the smallest 16 GB version, and it was just proving way too small for me. I would have bought the new iPad when it was released a few weeks back no matter what changes they were making to it. Aside from the new one having an unmarred screen and larger capacity, was the new upgrade worthy of ditching my old one?

In one short word, yes. I haven't regretted my purchase once. There hasn't been one moment when I said, "It's great, but I wish..." As Apple usually does, I think it made the appropriate amount of changes and amendments to its product to make it worthwhile for people to upgrade.

The best asset of the new iPad has to be the Retina Display. Right out of the box, I noticed the difference and was quite impressed with the screen quality. And this is with eyes that are starting to fail me in my slightly advanced age. Once I put on my reading glasses, I was shocked at the clarity of this display.

Description: Compare iPad Models

The Retina Display is supposed to be such a tight showing of pixels that the average human retina can't see individual pixels. Despite having older eyes, they're trained older eyes. I worked in the printing business for several years and know what to look for to see if something is appearing pixelated. I haven't once seen that on the new iPad at all.

In addition to all the images being clear, the colors are deep, rich, and bright. They never seem dull at all, and that's even when viewing standard apps. Some apps have already been upgraded to take advantage of the Retina Display, and those now appear absolutely beautiful, but the ones that haven't been upgraded yet still display deeper, richer, and brighter than they did on the iPad 2.

To go along with this display is a camera that is much improved. Basically, any change Apple made to the iPad 2 camera would have been a great improvement. The old camera was severely lacking. Photos looked dull and grainy, especially ones that were taken in low light. Inside pictures at night were absolutely terrible.

I take screen-caps in my work, and I routinely picked up the photos in Photo Stream on my MacBook and put them through iPhoto in order to sharpen them up. Not only can I now do that within the new iPhoto app for iPad if I wish, but I really don't need to do it.

Hours after I received the new iPad, my husband was involved in an auto accident in his truck. Before we sent it off to be looked at by the insurance company, we wanted to make sure we had some quality pictures of the damage that was done to the truck. This was the perfect time to try out the new iPad camera. The photo above was snapped with the new iPad. Judge for yourself the quality. Pay particular attention to the detail you can see through the window to the other side of the vehicle.

While many people were expecting Apple to make Siri available on the new iPad, it didn't. It added a dictation feature, as if that was supposed to pacify Siri fans. It's not really enough, though, and doesn't even come close to comparing with Siri.

I have tried the dictation feature and it works well. If you speak very clearly and announce your punctuation and paragraph breaks, it will type your words for you. The way my brain works, I still find it easier to just type it up, rather than speak it. Assumably, I'm a better writer than speaker. But even for people who are the opposite, this doesn't make up for not having Siri. Other apps can do similar actions as well, but there just is no substitution for Siri.

The new iPad also features an improved processor, what is being called the A5X. I really haven't noticed much of a difference. I'm sure there is one, but it's just not noticeable, because it wasn't really lacking before.

My periods of slowness don't seem to be the iPad itself, but network-related. I have a fairly fast home network and don't have much difficulties with it at all (it pays to have a husband in the local phone business). When I take my iPad and use it away from home, I notice a slowdown, meaning it has nothing to do with the processor speed and is just whatever network I am using at the time.

That being said, I do have a few apps that quit on me occasionally. I assumed it was either the processor or the capacity, but those same apps are still quitting on me occasionally, despite the A5X processor and the 32GB capacity of this iPad. Maybe it's just the apps themselves that are unstable.

Description: The New iPad and iOS 5.1

The New iPad and iOS 5.1 

The new iPad has also been said to be slightly thicker. I use a keyboard case (one by Logitech that I like because all the important keys are where they should be), and setting the new iPad in the "stand", it fits exactly the same as the iPad 2. When I close it, the new iPad fits slightly tighter than the iPad 2 did, but it still fits and I actually appreciate the tighter fit more. It makes me feel as if it's more secure. It is the absolutely only time I have ever noticed the difference in thickness.

As far as battery life, Apple has promised with all the improvements that the battery will last the same amount of time it did in the iPad 2. I have found that to be true. Just as with the thickness, I haven't noticed a difference. It's lasting the same amount of time as it did previously, and it's taking the same amount of time to charge it up again.

When I add all of this up together, yes it was worthy of an upgrade to the new iPad. Yet truth be told, it has nothing to do with thickness, battery, processor or dictation. It's all in the Retina display and the much-improved camera.

While there aren't a lot of new toys to play with on the new iPad, the improvements are enough to keep me happy, and to have me still marveling days after unpacking the new iPad. I haven't had one moment of buyer's remorse, making it the same as every other Apple product I have owned.

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