iPAD 2 Dying to know what the new iPad has to offer? Vinod Kurian Thomas has the answer.

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Over the last 2 years, there have been drastic changes in consumer behaviour after the tablet computer explosion worldwide. It started with the original Apple iPad of course, carried on with the iPad 2, which had many competitors playing catch-up. Now, Apple has unleashed its latest offering, the iPad 3, upon millions of loyal customers. The future of tablet devices is very bright, and has only scratched the surface when it comes to changing our world. Tablets and sophisticated mobile devices coupled with cloud computing applications are changing the world every day.

Ever since the launch of the iPad 2, hype has been building up about the next iteration of the iPad. It was widely expected that there would not be any drastic changes to the form of the iPad since there is only so much one can do about a rectangle piece of hardware which is what a tablet should be. 15.4 million iPads were sold in the last quarter – more than any PC manufacturer worldwide. There are 200,000 iPad apps in the App Store. iPads, iPhones and iPods made up 76 per cent of Apple's revenue in the fourth quarter of 2011. They sold 172 million of the devices last year.

When Apple launches a new product, you don't see some run of the mill press conference but the staging of an entire event around it, going so far as to even close their online store, so that everyone knows something important is happening and they need to pay attention. And that's exactly what millions of people such as myself did following the latest launch of the iPad on, March 7 2012 through live blogs and internet streams.

So what is the new iPad all about? Well I've just gotten my hands on one of the first pieces sold in India, and it has made some very good first impressions.

Apple calls its new product ‘resolutionary'. The 3rd generation iPad adds a Retina display, the new Apple A5X chip with a quad-core graphics processor, a 5 megapixel camera, full HD 1080p video recording, voice dictation, and 4G (LTE).

The major tech company claims that the battery can provide up to 10 hours of video, 140 hours of audio playback, or one month on standby.

Differences

It looks very similar to the iPad 2, even though the new one is slightly thicker. The key difference lies in the Retina display (as compared to an LED backlit IPS display on the iPad 2) with many more pixels - 2048 x 1536 pixels as compared to what feels like a meagre 1024 x 768 pixels on the previous gen tablet. There is a huge step-up in text crispness, the overall sharpness of the display and the vivid colours.

Web browsing and reading eBooks will be a sharper experience. And those of you who watch a whole bunch of videos and photos on the tablet will be delighted. This is probably the biggest reason to pick up this tablet over the existing iPad 2 It should be duly noted that Samsung must get its credit for supplying the retina display for Apple.

The new iPad screen offers a considerably increased contrast and gamut, meaning colours are not only brighter and more striking but more accurate. This is truly a spectacular display, and in typical IPS fashion it doesn't disappoint at odd angles. Frankly, the cameras on the iPad 2 were pretty bad. Thankfully, Apple has finally raised the game on the rear shooter—a 5-megapixel unit consisting of the same five-element, f/2.4 lens and stabilization processing wizardry found in the iPhone 4S.

Video has stepped up a good bit too, to 1080p from the previous 720, and again we saw a nice increase in quality over the former iPad. While many may not take to the idea of taking pictures or videos with a 9.7-inch display, if you must you will at least have great results now.

The gaming element of the new iPad 3 has been enhanced once more with the addition of the A5X chip which comes with quad-core graphical capabilities. After playing a few games like Sky gamblers, Infinity Blade and Angry Birds it's undeniable that the new iPad can really give dedicated gaming consoles a run for their money.

The new iPad doesn't do anything substantially better or particularly different than the iPad 2, offering the same rich world of content as before. But, it's the amazingly high quality window into that world the new iPad offers that is completely unmatched.

New iPad vs iPad 2:

If you already own an iPad 2 I can see little point buying this new one – unless it's solely for bragging rights – you can wait until the next iteration. But if you're sitting there with just a laptop and wondering whether to take the plunge, then it's a no contest. Go out there and get your iPad. Yes, it's really that good.

Pricing

The new iPad is available in two colours: black and white. While the 16GB model Wi-Fi models are available for Rs.30,500, the 32GB model costs Rs.36,500 and the 64GB model is priced at Rs.42,500. The next logical question is: should you spend the extra 8400 rupees and go for the Wi-Fi + 4G variant of whatever storage capacity iPad you've zeroed in on? The answer depends on where you would be typically using the iPad. If you plan to use it at home, or office, or anywhere else with Wi-Fi access, congratulations, you just saved yourself some money! However, if you like the idea of being connected no matter where you go, consider popping up the extra cash and go for the 4G version. But it makes very little sense in India right now so one can utilise only 3G services as yet.

The iPad wi-fi, 4G tablets are available for Rs.38,900 for the 16GB model, Rs.44,900 for the 32GB model and Rs.50,900 for the 64GB model.

With Apple dropping the price of the iPad 2, it looks a great option, especially for a first time buyer. iPad is available for Rs.24,500 for the 16 GB wi-fi model instead of Rs.29,500 and Rs.32,900 for the 16 GB wi-fi + 3G model instead of earlier pricing of Rs.34,500.

Apple currently retails its products through authorised retailers like Reliance iStore, Croma, Univercell and other stores.

Verdict: The new iPad is in a class by itself, just as its predecessor was. The iPad continues to stand head and shoulders above the competition. With the addition of the Retina display, LTE, more memory, and a more powerful CPU, Apple has held onto the iPad's market position as the dominant player and product to beat. For a first-time tablet consumer, it's a must-have gadget…for now.

Vinoo Kurian is a 23-year-old IT professional.