iPad (2012) Review from a Guy who's Never Owned One Before

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Introduction

So the iPad is available now. (By the way, it's not called the 'new' iPad, simply iPad.)

There are basically only three major alterations to this model compared to the last:

  • The screen
  • The cameras
  • The battery

There are also miscellaneous changes that I will consider, but they shouldn't be decisive in impacting on whether you decide to buy one or not.

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So read on for my (semi) full review.

I. That Screen

The iPad doubled its screen resolution from 1024 x 768 on the iPad 2, to now being 2048 x 1536. With this, it quadrupled the number of pixels from 786,432 to 3,145,728 pixels. This results in an increase from 132 ppi (pixels per inch) to 264 pp.

Do you necessarily care/understand this? Probably yes. But you hate looking at numbers, don't you? So Apple's marketing gurus simplify all of this and just dub the screen as having a 'Retina Display'. Which is super advertising. What was otherwise somewhat of menial consideration (the screen resolution, that is) is now something that is spoken about every time. There is a movement away from statements like "That screen looks sweet" to "Is that a Retina Display? It's not? Well then it sucks". And this is somewhat of a placebo effect as well - there is an expectation that the screen should be beautiful so you automatically are tuned to believe that it is.

In any case, is the screen amazing? Yep. Probably enough alone to make you want to buy the new iPad.

II. The Cameras

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Rear-facing camera

The sensor for the iPad is now 5 megapixels, similar to that of the iPhone 4 released in 2010. Why, in 2012, Apple introduces a camera that was introduced in 2010, and not the one in 2011 (the 8 megapixel sensor in the iPhone 4S)? I don't know. Perhaps to maintain its profit margin. But do you need that 8mp sensor? Probably not. The camera on the new iPad is good - check out the tester photos I took. It produces quite decent macro shots, deals relatively well with low-light and takes in enough detail in landscape shots. Do you need more from a tablet? (The answer is no.)

The rear-facing camera also improves from last year's iPad in terms of video recording, improving from 720p to 1080p recording.

So are the videos better? A little bit.

Front-facing camera

This is where I am pissed off. Whilst every other review emphasises the improvement of the rear sensor, the front-facing camera is brushed aside even though it remains the same. Some argue that the reason for keeping it the same is so that there is no lag in video calling (otherwise dubbed FaceTime by Apple). But this is bullshit. Firstly, FaceTime is only available over Wi-Fi (a problem in and of itself - in America, there is 4G on the new iPad, a network which sometimes produces speeds better than some people's home broadband). Given that it is only available over Wi-Fi, there won't be such a lag in video output. And Apple knows this - they did, after all, improve the sensor in the Macbook Air, Macbook Pro and their Cinema Display to 1.3 megapixels for video chat. Why not for the iPad? I see no reason not to.

Further, a fun app is Photo Booth. And this is basically only used via the front-camera.

If so, shouldn't the sensor be at least semi-decent? Yes. Yes, it should.

III. The Battery

This is something of a boring area, but it is as important, if not more important, than any other development in the new iPad. The iPad still maintains 10 hours of charge over Wi-Fi, and 9 hours over 4G. This basically equates to roughly half-a-week to a full-week of usage without having to charge. And this is amazing. I'm certain, at least in America, that 4G was not introduced in the iPhone 4S because of battery issues. Android devices are notorious for having the capability of running on a 4G network. But they are also notorious for holding a charge for only a few hours. And this doesn't equate to 'usage' for a consumer. What's a feature worth if I can't even turn the device on?

It's even more remarkable given the fact that the new iPad now has to power through four-times the number of pixels compared to last year's iPad.

IV. Miscellaneous

Size of Apps

The size of apps (in terms of the amount they will occupy with respect to the capacity [16, 32 or 64 GB] you purchase) will jump as they begin to optimise to display icons, pictures and graphics to align with the Retina Display. At the moment, there is a slow rollout of apps that are optimised for the increased screen resolution. And those that haven't been optimised look really shit on the new screen. Lets hope for a quick rollout so that we don't have to put our eyes through the pain of seeing pixels. My eyes!

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Future-proofing

A related point to above, you should probably get the 32 GB if you had initially planned to get the 16 GB. This is especially the case if you plan to hold all of your music library on the iPad. As more and more apps begin to be upgraded, you will find that you will have less and less space on the iPad. And it sucks to have to pick-and-choose which apps to keep and which apps to get rid of in order to stay within the gambit of your capacity.

Graphics

Graphics have improved. So games will move along smoother. And the types of graphic-intensive games available on the iPad will improve. Cool, ey?

Choosing White

The white model of any Apple device (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) looks wonderful. But just be aware that there is a 'gap' between the display and the white frame. Put in other words, what you see is: screen -> black border -> white frame.

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iOS Glitch

There is a glitch on iOS 5.1 when you split the keyboard in the Search screen. I'm sure this will be gotten rid of with iOS 5.2.

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Lack of HDR

There is no HDR in the iPad photo app, unlike in the Photo app on the iPhone. I don't know why this is the case. I guess even Apple thinks you shouldn't be using your iPad as your go-to device in public to take photos because you will look like a complete tosser.

Future Apps

With the improvement of the sensor of the iPad, will camera app developers begin to make iPad-optimised apps? Here's looking at you Instagram and Camera+.

Conclusion

In conclusion, this is an amazing device. Let me foreshadow what tech blogs will say as Android and Android hardware manufacturers begin to introduce tablets aiming to compete with this device:

  • It's shit, so buy the iPad;
  • It's good but not as good as the iPad, so buy the iPad.

So for me, if you are in the market for a tablet, buy an iPad. Don't wait for alternatives that may be better. They won't be.

In terms of should you upgrade, I'm not that sure. This is the first iPad I have owned. But my brother has an iPad 2. And after playing on my new iPad, and then playing on his, I pity him. The pixels... the pixels!! So be cool - buy the new iPad (if you've got the money - which you would have if you were smart enough to sell your iPad 2 prior to the announcement of this new iPad... but here we are).

Note: 4G/LTE is not available in Australia, where I have written this.

I'd like to hear your thoughts so leave your comments below!

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