Early reviews of the new iPad are in. While most still find the iPad superior to other tablets, this new version lacks a specific "wow" factor that's been common to Apple products.
goes on sale March 17, and the early reviews are in. People like
it. It's really nice. Apple made some great updates to the iPad 2. The screen
is impressively sharper, and where there's Long-Term Evolution (LTE) access,
it's really much faster.
Still, no one was super,
Apple-style blown away. No major tingles up the spine. No "one last
thing." It's just a really nice updatewhich is the type of thing
consumers have come to expect from Microsoft, or maybe Samsung, but not Apple.
Is this the moment we begin
really wondering about Apple without Steve Jobs?
Either way, there's no bad
news here. The New York Times'
David Pogue and The Wall
Walter S. Mossberg, two of the most venerable
reviewers in the industry, agree that Apple's is still hands-down the best
tablet money can buy.
The iPad's greatest new
feature is its Retina Display, which has 2 million pixels more than an HD
videos look dazzling," writes Pogue. "This is the worlds first
tablet that can actually show you hi-def movies in full 1080p high
Mossberg called it "the
most spectacular display I have ever seen in a mobile device." Using it,
he added, "is like getting a new eyeglasses prescriptionyou suddenly
realize what you thought looked sharp before wasn't nearly as sharp as it could
But there's a downside to
this. Two, really. Apps that haven't been updated to high definition, like
Netflix's streaming movies, suddenly seem a bit disappointing. Like how
painting one room in a house can suddenly make the others seem shabby.
Mossberg, holding the iPad 2
and the "don't call it an iPad-3" side-by-side, which most people
won't do, writes that "letters and words that had seemed sharp on the
older model five minutes earlier suddenly looked fuzzier."
The sharper display also
eats into storage, in again more than one way. Pogue explains that Retina-ready
apps use two to three times more of the iPad's nonexpandable storage than
pre-Retina apps. To take advantage of the new display, developers must rework
the graphics at a higher resolution, which makes for much larger files.
Worse, continues Pogue, the
new apps actually also means less space on iPhones as well, as the new apps sit
alongside the old, moot apps, on the iPad as well as the iPhone, since many are
written to run on both.
"In other words,"
says Pogue, "iPhone owners, too, will wind up losing storage space because
of this graphic-bloat ripple-down effect."
But, more pros: The lame
sub-1-megapixel camera on the back of the iPad 2 has been replaced with a 5-megapixel
version and a feature that helps work around users' shaky hands.
There's a speedier processor
and that added 4G LTE connectivity on AT&T and Verizon Wireless networks
are together said to make the new iPad run "buttery smooth,"
according to Mossberg. On the Verizon network, the new iPad can also work as a
tether, enabling users to connect other WiFi-enabled devices. (AT&T, as it
said for years about tethering on the iPhone, is working on it.)
Apple also managed to add
these new battery-devouring features while keeping battery life consistentthough
that too comes at a price. The new iPad is a smidge thicker and heavier8
percent heavier and 7 percent thicker, by Mossberg's maththan its predecessor.
If you have the original
iPad, or another tablet, or no tablet at all, the new iPad will surely seem
light and lovely. But if you have an iPad 2?
"Its a very slight
difference," says Pogue, "but fingers used to handling the old iPad
will feel it, and thats too bad."
Also too bad, Apple added a
button for voice dictationusers, particularly those less fond of typing on the
on-screen keyboard, can dictate text messages or emailsinstead of fully
bringing Siri on board, as many expected. The transcription, performed by
servers somewhere, is said to be good though not incredible; words like "baby"
and "maybe" can be swapped.
In summary? Mossberg writes
that since the 2010 launch of the iPad, Apple has offered the world's best
tablets. "It still holds that crown."
Pogue pointed to some silver
lining: Apple took its excellent tablet and made it "better looking,
better integrated and more consistently designed than any of its rivals."
That means that if you have an iPad 2, instead of feeling bummed out about
being so quickly left in the dust, "you don't have to feel quite as
obsolete as usual."
To squeeze in a last-minute,
third perspective, USA Today's
Edward C. Baig offered a
"No extra storage or
expansion options, no smaller-screen model to compete against the likes of
Amazon's Kindle Fire. Still no Adobe Flash, and no camera flash, either. Not
even Siri ... " wrote Baig.
He went on, as though anyone
were ever worried about Apple: "No big deal. Apple may have left a few
things out. But Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster estimates Apple will sell up
to 60 million iPads this year."
It's the consistent wow
factor that consumers around the
world look to Apple for, that more of us may quietly be worried about.