The new iPad is an improvement on an already good thing, but its real potential will be known only when developers come up with more high definition Apps
Nothing you've heard about the new iPad or seen on web videos can quite prepare you for the sheer brilliance of the Retina display Apple has achieved in its third generation of the most successful tablet PC.
The mobile device that packs more pixels on a 10.1-inch screen than a high-definition television does on a 32-inch screen lives up to the tag line of being ‘resolutionary'. The HD wallpapers on the new iPad just warm you up to what is to come. Some of the popular free Apps such as Angry Birds and Cut the Rope have already released the HD versions of their games for the new iPad and, needless to say, they look gorgeous.
Some 3D game titles such as Real Racing 2 HD and Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy are the ones that really crank up the device to exploit the capabilities of the A5X dual core processor with a quad-core graphics engine. Though I am not much of a fan of flight simulator games, I did try out the free Sky Gamblers: Rise of Glory App to see how far the iPad could deliver top-notch graphics. The detailing bordered on the spectacular and the gameplay was pretty smooth while delivering console-quality effects.
Freely available Apps
But the best high resolution experience, at least among the freely available Apps that I could check out within the first week of unwrapping the new iPad was the interactive multimedia book “Life on Earth” by American biologist and researcher Edward O.Wilson's Biodiversity Foundation. The 1 GB electronic book, available as a free download on Apple's iBooks platform, combines HD videos, interactive high-resolution images and charts to provide readers with a special experience. Apple seems to have used it to provide a proof of concept on just where education could be heading in the era of tablet PCs.
The other big improvement in the new iPad, apart from the Retina display and the A5X processor, has been with the 5 MP back camera that Apple has branded ‘iSight'. Capable of full HD video capture and face detection, the camera performs admirably. Though the only thing I found odd was the tablet's form factor being ill-suited for photography.
One of the most talked-about issues with the new iPad has been pertaining to overheating of the tablet, especially when playing 3D games over a long period of time. I did experience this while playing some games over a sustained period of time — say, two hours at a stretch. The heating was not unmanageable but the new iPad, slightly heavier than the iPad2, just became a bit uncomfortable to handle.
Apple has already reacted, almost in a tone similar to iPhone's famous ‘Antennagate' by saying that the high temperatures while engaging in high-performance activities were only natural and that the device itself is safe to operate. A few independent tests by popular technology websites have proved that the new iPad does notch up a couple of degrees more than its predecessor the iPad2.
One of the biggest complaints Apple has faced ever since the iPad was launched in 2010 was that the device was excessively biased towards consumption and did not help much in terms of creativity.
Coinciding with the launch of the new iPad in March this year, Apple has extended its popular iLife (iMovies, iPhoto and Garageband) and iWork (Pages, Keynote and Numbers) suites to work on the iOS platform. But unlike with the iMac or Macbooks, the iLife does not come pre-installed and is priced. While the iLife apps are priced at $4.99 each, the iWork apps are priced at $9.99 each.
I found the onscreen keyboard a little difficult to get used to when I tried to use the iPad as a writing device. But when paired with a bluetooth keyboard, it does a pretty decent job.
The best thing about the iPad, apart from all the eye candy, is its battery life. Despite being a powerhouse of graphics, it delivered close to 10 hours of usage. For a mobile device, that is a serious differentiator.
Bottomline: Without a doubt, the iPad is neck and shoulders ahead of competition. Its premium pricing can be overlooked if one wants to experience some of the latest, cutting-edge Apps out there.
● The ‘iSight camera’ not only captures full 1080p HD video, but also does a bit of face-detection up to 10 faces in a frame. That makes it good for group photos.
● The new iPad comes in two iterations: wifi and 4G (4th generation) connectivity. The latter is only just making its entry into India, with Airtel having introduced it in Kolkata last month followed by Bangalore earlier this week.
● The new iPad introduces dictation as a mode of input. However people with very Indian accents may find it tough to use. Also it requires constant data connectivity.