updated 08:30 pm EDT, Thu March 15, 2012
Electronista's first impressions of the new iPad
Electronista has been able to spend some time with the new iPad and can say that it is a worthy upgrade in many ways, but has its shortcomings too. In short, the stunning Retina Display encapsulates the new iPad experience. The super high (2048x1536) resolution is immediately apparent, as is the 44 percent increase in the color gamut of the display with colors and images 'popping' like never before.
However, what is also immediately apparent is the fact that the new iPad is slightly thicker and is also slightly heavier than the iPad 2. When we picked it up for the first time, the difference in thickness and weight were slight, but still noticeable. Where Apple was heading in the right direction with the reduction in weight and bulk over the original iPad with the iPad 2, it has taken a small, but significant step backwards with the new iPad. Apple is obviously hoping that the trade-off in size and weight is worth the addition of the Retina Display in the minds (and hands) of users.
So was Apple right to make the trade-off? We believe the answer is a resounding yes. Without the new Retina Display, the new iPad would have been a let down - unless Apple had been able to make it thinner and lighter. The addition of 4G LTE and faster graphics are welcome additions, but they are not game changing. By contrast, the Retina Display is a game changer, and it pushes mobile display technology into new territory.
As Apple has proselytized about the virtues of the new iPad display, the whole user experience really centers on it. The OS and the design of the device itself is meant to be 'transparent' and out of the minds of users when they are interacting with the device. Instead, users are meant to be drawn into the world of the app that they're using, with the rest fading into the background. This view could not be any truer than now, with the advent of the iPad Retina Display. All that matters is just how beautiful it is, and how much better using the device is as a result.
Electronista has also been spending some time with the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7, which until the arrival of the new iPad, had the highest pixel density of any other tablet on the market at 197ppi. Its large Super AMOLED Plus display with a full RGB array is seductive to say the least. Colors are vibrant and text appears crisp and Retina Display-like in many ways. By comparison the original iPad display and the iPad muster a pixel density of only 132ppi. While using the Galaxy Tab 7.7, we found ourselves reaching for that more frequently than the iPad 2 to enjoy the eye-candy and enhanced usability that a crisper, more color rich display offers.
The new iPad has a pixel density of 264ppi, which is still well short of the iPhone 4/4S Retina Display, which comes in a 326ppi. For the record, the iPhone 4/4S Retina Display has only recently been bested in the smartphone space by the Sony Xperia S and the HTC Rezound, which both sport pixel densities of 342ppi. However, on a tablet, the new iPad display only needs to be around 240ppi to convey the same level of resolution as a high-res smartphone as it is held further away in normal use.
With the arrival of the Retina Display on the new iPad, iPad users, like iPhone 4 and 4S users, won't care that they don't have OLED technology on their devices. The depth of the colors the new Retina Display offers, as well as the brightness, contrast and image clarity which means that it looks just as good, just as gorgeous as the best Super AMOLED Plus display out there, which happens to be the Galaxy Tab 7.7. However, it trumps that display by some way. The additional pixel density of the new iPad means that when viewed normally the pixels disappear, where they are still noticeable on the Galaxy Tab 7.7.
Everything looks better on the new iPad, from web browsing, to email, to watching movies and playing games. Right now there are at least 25 apps that have already been updated to support the resolution of the new iPad, and more will be updated over the coming days and weeks.
Overall, the new iPad could well be a winner in Apple's ever increasing stable of best-selling products. We can't see anything that would stop a user from considering the new iPad, added weight and thickness notwithstanding. Even though the iPad 2 remains a tempting value proposition at its new lower price, we strongly recommend that users consider saving the extra money to go for the new iPad if the budget can stretch that far. Android tablets will get closer, but they'll usually be slightly lower resolution (1920x1080) and larger-screened (10.1 inches) -- and more importantly, they're not yet shipping.