Apple iPad (3rd generation, Wi-Fi)

9.0
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Reviewed by ChristianO (Currently owns)

Apple’s iPad (2012) does not betray much newness on its surface -- only an eagle-eyed observer can really distinguish it from the iPad 2 when the screen is off. But once you light up that display and begin swiping, pinching, and zooming, any doubts about sameness are washed away by a wave of eye-popping color saturation and high resolution.
 
Some improvements are not significant or even nonexistent: CPU is essentially unchanged, front camera is still VGA, and the speakers are a tad louder but still just mono, and hardware design is virtually identical. Yet these are relatively minor gripes because they do little to degrade the overall experience. Moreover, the lack of change in some specs speaks volumes for how impressive the iPad 2 was and still remains.
 
But back to that screen: the new iPad’s retina display is an absolute marvel of engineering. I unboxed my new iPad right next to a relative's iPad 2, and the room took a collective gasp when I compared the two screens. Just luscious. No display currently in production really compares in the tablet (or any other) space. And being that the screen is the iPad's true raison d'être, its astonishing beauty shapes the entire experience. What’s more, I believe the retina display is the kind of killer feature that will future-proof the 3rd generation iPad – in five years, this iteration will likely still hold up well assuming good software support and optimization. It’s that good.
 
On the performance side, Apple’s trademark buttery smooth software experience remains the norm. Videos look crisper, retina-optimized games pop even more, and the beefed up battery holds up through all that graphical heavy-lifting.
 
In sum, despite outsize expectations driven by the media and the vox populi, the new iPad is an unqualified triumph. Once again Apple pulls even farther ahead of the competition by avoiding spec-by-spec one-upsmanship and focusing instead on refining an experience that was already the industry standard. I know most outfits say it’s not worth it to upgrade if you already have an iPad 2, but I disagree. Save your change, sell what you must, trade up, whatever. Just get the new iPad and you’ll see that it’s more than just an iterative upgrade -- it’s a glimpse into the future of computing.
 

The Breakdown

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  • Design 9
  • Display 10
  • Camera(s) 8
  • Speakers 8
  • Performance 10
  • Software 9
  • Battery life 10
  • Ecosystem 10
  • Dock 9
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