I’ve been using the “new” iPad for about a week and it’s definitely a great device. There are some definite improvements, and some rather less than optimal changes to the 3rd Generation iPad.
Before I delve into what I have found to be good and bad, I thought I would go into my purchasing decision. I have owned each of the iPads. The first one was a 64GB original iPad that was Wifi only that I walked right into the Apple Store on April 2nd, 2010 and purchased. The second was a 64GB iPad 2 with AT&T 3G (I wanted a 32GB Model but the store didn’t have any). I ended up waiting in line, on launch Day March 11th, 2011, for this one, which was not too bad. It only took a couple of hours. This time around I opted for a 32GB 3rd Gen iPad Wifi with AT&T 4G service, and I pre-ordered this one for delivery. It was scheduled to be at my house by 3:00PM on March 16th, 2012 and arrived at 2:10. Next time I think I’ll just have Fedex hold my package and I’ll go and pick it up and get it bright and early. You maybe wondering why I chose AT&T. Living in the Western Suburbs of Chicago, AT&T coverage is supposedly it is better where I live compared to Verizon.
The iPad 3 has a couple of significant improvements over the previous iPad generations. The first, and most noticeable is the screen. The screen resolution on the 3rd Generation iPad has been doubled both vertically and horizontally. The new resolution is 2048×1536, compared to 1024×768 for both the original iPad and the iPad 2. This improvement makes ALL applications look better. Yes, even applications developed for the iPhone and using 2X zooming. ALL applications look better. It will be most apparent in the screenshots I have below.
As a developer, I was most excited to see the retina display to see just how well my apps would look with the better graphics. Since they’re text-only applications the applications look fantastic on the new iPad. Text is not the only place where you can see a vast improvement.
Many applications have since been released to include Retina graphics and support for the iPad’s new screen. Netflix is amongst this group. While Netflix still does not stream 1080p to the iPad, we know it is only a matter of time because 3rd Generation Apple TV does stream 1080p from Netflix.
Cellular performance is definitely better with the 4G connection over the 3G connection in the iPad 2. The screen shots below demonstrate this fact. The top is a set of results from the 3rd Generation iPad, the second is the results from my iPad 2, and the last is my iPhone 4S. You should be able to see the result difference. AT&T is ‘claiming’ that the iPhone 4S can support ‘4G’, but in all reality it’s HSPA+ and not any form of actual 4G. Although, to be honest, LTE isn’t 4G either, it’s barely 3G. But that is a whole other article. There have been reports that LTE is faster than some landline connections, while this is has not been my experience on AT&T, it is possible that this is the case in some areas of the country.
There have been a couple of issues with the 3rd Generation iPad. The first is using a Bluetooth keyboard with the iPad. I have used the same Apple Keyboard with my iPads since the initial iPad in 2010. With my original iPad and iPad 2 I had no issues with using the bluetooth keyboard, unless I forgot to change the batteries. The keyboard never lost connectivity nor did it not function. However, this has not been the case with my 3rd Gen iPad.
I have had issues using both my own application as well as the Screens app. With my own applications the keyboard would just disconnect. I would then reconnect it and it would work for a while but ultimately disconnect again. With Screens despite the keyboard being connected I could not get the application to work at all. The keyboard would just not respond. If I changed and used the on-screen keyboard it worked without issue, but trying to doing things via the on-screen keyboard makes the process of typing a bit trickier. If I could use the physical keyboard I would be able to be a bit more productive.
Overall the 3rd Generation iPad is not a bad product. If you have an original iPad you should definitely upgrade. LTE does not live up to the ‘hype’ of how fast it can go. Maybe it’s just in my area because there have been other reports of rather fast LTE service. The screen is worth seeing, even if you do not upgrade. It will change the way you look at all screens and realize just how crisp and clear text and graphics can truly be.