Vivek's Impressions

Over the last two-plus years, I’ve had an interesting relationship with the the iPad. I never intended to buy the original iPad, but I ended up getting one simply because the "oooh shiny" factor was too much to resist. It was a little buggy, a little slow, and mostly useless. In a footnote that may or may not be related, I returned it 12 days later.

After my experience with the original iPad, I was keen on revisiting the experience a year later with the iPad 2. I appreciated the industrial design and performance boost, along with the thriving iPad-specific application ecosystem, though I noted that the XGA display wasn't aging well. I said I wanted to give it a shot at being a real productivity device, and bet that I wouldn't end up returning it. Thankfully, I'm not a betting man, because if I was, I would have lost my money. I used it a lot the month I got it, as well as the month leading up to my iOS 5 review, but other than that, it ended up sitting around my house until I sold it in December. It just didn't function properly in my usage model, nothing about a tablet fit into my workflow.

And it wasn't just the iPad; I had more than a dozen other tablets go through my hands over the last 12 months. iOS, Honeycomb, webOS (R.I.P.)...it didn’t really seem to matter, I just couldn’t get a tablet to feel like anything other than an accessory that made my computing setup that much less streamlined. I've heard Anand and Brian convey similar thoughts multiple times over the last couple of years. We're writers; as devices without keyboards, tablets work for us as laptop replacements roughly as well as wheel-less bicycles would do as car replacements.

Regardless of that minor concern, I ended up at an Apple Store on the launch day of the new iPad for the third year in a row (at 6AM, no less). And for the third year in a row, I ended up purchasing the latest and greatest in Apple slate computing. It's relatively rare to see Apple compromise form factor in favor of more screen, more GPU, and more battery, but Apple breaking from the tradition (philosophy?) of sacrificing anything and everything at the alter of thinness has resulted in a device that's actually very interesting. 

I liked the iPad 2 hardware. It was a better tablet experience than the original, and the new iPad builds on that. Adding the Retina Display and LTE gives the form factor a breath of fresh air, but there’s another 16,000 words describing how and why. The main points: it’s new and it’s great to use, but the question is (also asked by Anand), will I be using this in six months? The answer for the original iPad was a resounding no; for the iPad 2, the answer was still no, but getting there. The new iPad? We’ll see.

The new iPad comes into my life at an interesting point—I got rid of my MacBook Pro because I felt like changing things up, and since then I’ve been bouncing from notebook to notebook (mostly review units) for the last eight weeks. With my mobile computing situation in flux until the next MacBook Pro launch, what better time to see if the iPad can really fit into my life?

To find out, I picked up a Logitech keyboard case for it, one that turns the iPad into something approximating the world's greatest netbook. Early returns are promising, I've gotten more written on the iPad in the last two days than I did in the entirety of the 9 months I owned the iPad 2. Shocking, that having a keyboard would make it easier to write, but in all seriousness, it allows me to be as productive on the iPad as I might be on a netbook. Probably more so, in fact. Also helping the case: dumping Google Docs Mobile (mostly terrible) for Evernote (less terrible). Multitouch gestures make switching between tasks less of a pain and the screen is finally crisp enough for the iPad to be a viable ebook reader. The new usability enhancements and the keyboard have significantly changed the usage model for me, now to the point where it has a daily role as a primary mobile computing device. 

I don’t know how long it’ll last, but finally, the iPad is actually playing a meaningful part in my life. 

What's Next: 6th gen iPhone, Haswell & Windows 8 Final Words
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  • sjael - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - link

    On the 'A5X vs Tegra 3 In the Real World' page, you mention Modern Warfare 3 as a iOS+Android game.

    I think, since I haven't seen this game ported to phones/tablets, you *might* be thinking Modern Combat 3.

    And then of course you show the market page for it further down..
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - link

    Correct - thanks for the heads up!

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Celestion - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - link

    Looks like the 3rd gen iPad was CPU limited in that first GlBenchmark test. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - link

    That would be vsync :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Celestion - Saturday, March 31, 2012 - link

    I see. Thanks! Reply
  • Kevin G - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - link

    Memory bandwidth tests just seem to be off for what you'd expect a quad channel 128 bit wide memory bus to perform as. Performance didn't move from the dual channel 64 bit wide bus in the iPad 2. Could there be a software bug (Geekbench or iOS) limiting performance there? It'd be nice to revisit the memory tests after the next major revision of iOS and in conjunction with a later release of Geek Bench.

    Any chance of getting the exact resolution that Infinity Blade 2 runs on the rev 3 iPad? I'm assuming it'd be either 1536 x 1152 or 1368 x 1024 for quick scaling purposes.
    Reply
  • slashbinslashbash - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - link

    They addressed this in the article.

    "It would appear that only the GPU has access to all four channels." - Page 12

    The GPU is hooked up to the RAM controllers. The CPU communicates to the RAM through the GPU. The GPU gets all 4 channels, the CPU only gets 2. The benchmark measures CPU-RAM bandwidth, not GPU-RAM bandwidth.

    It's actually kind of interesting, as it's an inversion of the typical architecture that we're all used to from PCs. But it makes sense, since the new iPad is basically a very nice screen with a smartphone CPU attached. The very nice screen requires a very nice GPU to drive it, so the GPU is more important (and would be memory starved with only 64 bits). The CPU just has to be "good enough" while any shortcomings in the GPU would be magnified at this resolution.
    Reply
  • tipoo - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - link

    Which way is the PS Vita configured? That has the same quad core GPU and a quad core CPU as well. Reply
  • tipoo - Wednesday, March 28, 2012 - link

    Huh, the Vita actually has 128mb dedicated video memory, can't find the bandwidth though. Reply
  • pickica - Monday, April 02, 2012 - link

    We should also consider a possible higher clock on Vita. Reply

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