Apple's third generation iPad is now on shelves all over New Zealand, and PC World got hands-on time with the device.
The iPad is all about the screen. It's what you touch, and it's what you look at. So the improved 9.7-inch, 2048 x 1536 resolution display of the new iPad is a bit of a no-brainer, and it really is remarkably nice. With the brightness turned all the way up, the colours are vibrant, everything is sharp, and even when you zoom in to about 500% zoom, text is sharp and clear. That's only partially because of the screen - the text renderer is also working hard. As such, it's great for people with vision problems.
The new iPad also has an A5X chip - similar to the iPad 2's A5, but with quad-core graphics. While graphics performance is superb, we haven't noticed a massive difference in performance jumping from the iPad 2 to the upgraded device. The iPad 2 is just a touch slower than the new iPad when you're doing graphics-intensive stuff that might normally lag, such as cycling through photos quickly or turning the page on an ebook, but if you're gaming or watching video, the only difference you'll notice is the resolution.
Some of the new and improved apps are fairly impressive, although most will also work on the iPad 2. Garage Band has had a serious update, as Apple has added the ability to play with a full string orchestra, as well as individual string instruments.
iPhoto is another brand new app that can edit and sort photos in interesting and relatively intuitive ways. For example, you can use the colour mode to select an area of a photo with similar colouring by tapping on it, and change the contrast, saturation and brightness of just that part of the image by moving a your finger left, right, up or down. You can even fix skin tones quickly and easily this way, if the lighting has washed your photo out.
The new iPad's camera is the same as the one Apple packed into the iPhone 4 - the image quality is vastly improved when compared to the iPad 2's camera.
The iPad can also record in 1080p video, which can then be streamed through Apple TV, although we unfortunately haven't had the chance to test that just yet. It'll be included in our final review.
While our impressions of the new iPad are positive, for most people there isn't much of an incentive to upgrade from the iPad 2. The only noticeable difference is the display quality, which isn't going to sell everyone. While we'd really like to play back amazingly high quality 1080p video on a tablet, we probably don't need to spend $729 on it. But hey, these are just day one impressions - Apple has some time to change our minds.
RRP incl GST: From $729