Apple iPad (Third-Gen): The Catrachadas Evaluation

As widely expected, Apple unveiled the third generation iPad on March 7th at the Yerba Buena Art Center in San Francisco. Analysts speculated that we would see the iPad 3, or maybe the iPad HD, but Cupertino defied everyone in attendance by simply calling it "the new iPad".

It's an overly oversimplified but strikingly bold decision that perhaps only a company as confident and charismatic (or perhaps cocky) as Apple can make. Personally, I thought it was a lazy choice when I first heard about it, but now that it has had some time to establish itself and given some of the terrible product names that are already on the market (say the majority of the HTC smartphones), it's more like a breath of fresh air. Steve Jobs himself would be proud if he wasn't directly responsible for finding the name before he passed away prematurely last year.

Similar to the announcement of the iPhone 4S about five months ago, Apple unveiled a tablet that is best described on paper as an evolutionary update in the product line. The new iPad is aesthetically almost identical to the iPad 2, and with both devices turned off, you'll find it hard to tell visual differences as you walk by.

There is a 9.7-inch display, a home button and a camera on the front, a 30-pin connector on the bottom, a power and headphone jack on the top, an orientation lock switch and a volume rocker on the right, as well as an aluminum back, a speaker connector and a Camera there. Apple accessories like the Smart Cover are compatible with the new iPad if you want to protect the screen from dust and scratches.

A closer look shows that the new iPad is 0.6 mm thicker and 51 g heavier than the iPad 2. This would generally go against Apple's mantra, but it's a reality for the new iPad, and there are compelling reasons to support the increased scope.

Apple put a 70% larger battery in the new iPad (42.5-watt-hour versus 25-watt-hour in the iPad 2), which is necessary to maintain the same 10-hour battery life while surfing the internet over Wi-Fi videos or listening to music and 9 hours of running time when using a cellular network.

Three new features on the latest iPad are more powerful than previous generations.

The new dual-core A5X SoC doesn't differ that much from the dual-core A5 SoC in terms of CPU, but the quad-core PowerVR SGX 543MP4 graphics subsystem (the same chip used in the Sony PlayStation Vita) does ) certainly needs more energy. During their media event, Apple claimed the GPU was twice as fast as the one in the iPad 2 and four times faster than Nvidia's Tegra 3. This didn't go well with Nvidia executives, who thought the no-benchmark claims were lifeless.

4G LTE connectivity has a long history as a battery hog and may be one of the reasons Apple hasn't implemented it in an iPhone yet. US users have two options when it comes to 4G LTE connectivity: AT&T or Verizon Wireless. There's no doubt that the tablet will be lightning fast over 4G at theoretical speeds of 73Mbps, but with two antennas tuned to 12 different bands, there are plenty of other networks you can access if you are are out of range of a 4G network. Apple has also combined cellular models with personal hotspot functions, if the network operator allows this.

We believe the new Retina display is the main culprit for battery drain. The rumor mill has nailed this feature to a tee. The display on Apple's newest slate works with 2,048 x 1,536 pixels – more than almost any computer monitor under 30 inches and HDTVs of the current generation. The display contains more than 3.1 million pixels – more than 1 million more than the iPad 2. It's the most famous new feature on the iPad, and for good reason. Put simply, it's unlike anything you've ever seen before.

The rear view camera also received an upgrade. The 5-megapixel shooter, now known as the iSight camera, has a rear light sensor with a larger aperture of f / 2.4, a 5-element lens integrated in the SoC, an IR filter and an ISP. This makes the camera comparable to the iPhone 4S (although with less MP), one of the best phone cameras on the market. Oh, and it also records 1080p HD video with image stabilization. The front-facing camera in VGA quality remains unchanged.

Some people expected Apple to support Siri, but given that an internet connection is required to communicate with Apple's servers, it didn't cut it this time. Instead, we get help dictating. You can click the microphone icon on the keyboard, speak into the device, and the iPad will translate what you said on the screen. Apple touts a great way to text, email, and search the web with just your voice.

This rating is based on testing the 16GB white model with only Wi-Fi. We may compare it to a 32GB iPad 2 with only Wi-Fi.

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