Since Apple launched the first iPad two years ago, the tablet market has evolved rapidly. While slate tablets were nothing new, the original iPad was the first serious tablet to be built around smartphone components and a user interface designed specifically for touchscreen input. The hardware was enough to run the OS smoothly while maintaining good battery life, the thin and light form factor lent itself to easy portability, and the touch-based user experience was miles better than earlier devices based on desktop operating systems. 

We take it for granted now, but this was all news back in 2010, and the iPad was practically in a category of its own, with no real competitors to speak of. After Apple started shipping the iPad, the segment basically exploded—we had Google jump in with Honeycomb, HP got into it (and then out of it) with webOS, RIM had a go with the PlayBook, Amazon pushed the Kindle line into the tablet space, and Microsoft created its next release of Windows with tablets in mind. Along the way, Apple updated the iPad, both on the software side with multitasking, a new notifications system, and a myriad of UI updates, as well as launching second generation iPad hardware. The iPad 2 was a comprehensive update, bringing a dual core processor, unrivaled graphics performance, cameras fore and aft, and a ground up redesign that brought a thinner and lighter form factor. 

The iPad 2 was a significant improvement over the original—faster, more portable, and generally a far more polished device. Not that it was perfect: iOS 4 still had issues with smooth multitasking and an archaic notifications system, the cameras were mediocre, and the XGA display, while a great quality panel, didn’t have the kind of pixel density expected of a premium mobile device. The iPad 2 hit market around the same time as Honeycomb (in Motorola’s Xoom) early last year, and at first Apple still held a major edge in terms of hardware. As more impressive Honeycomb devices like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the ASUS Transformer Prime were launched, along with Ice Cream Sandwich looming on the horizon, Android became a much more viable tablet alternative to iOS. And with Microsoft planning for a major push later this year for ARM-based Windows 8 tablets centered around the Metro UI, Apple has never faced such stiff competition in the tablet space. Which brings us to the third generation of iPad hardware.

It has a display resolution that dwarfs most high-end desktop displays. The panel also puts a real emphasis on quality, not just resolution. For a computing device targeted squarely at the consumer market, both of these things are rarities.

Its SoC is the absolute largest ever squeezed into an ARM based tablet. The chip itself is even bigger than what you find in most mainstream notebooks. It’s expensive, it puts out a ton of heat and it offers a tremendous GPU performance advantage over anything else in its class.

And it has a battery that’s larger than what ships in the current crop of similarly sized ultraportables and Ultrabooks.

The new iPad doesn’t significantly change the tablet usage paradigm, but it does put all previous attempts at building hardware in this space to shame. It’s the sort of no holds barred, performance at any expense design that we’re used to seeing from enthusiast PC component vendors—but in a tablet...from Apple. 

Welcome to the new iPad.

The new iPad
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  • name99 - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Compared to the iPad1, the screen is, IMHO slightly smoother and a lot more oleophobic (ie it's a lot easier to clean off fingerprints by wiping a cloth over it). I never had an iPad2 so I don't know if these improvements are new or came with iPad2. Reply
  • shompa - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    See = AppleTV
    Touch = Ipad.

    But there was rumors about touch feedback from the screen. Probably in the next Ipad.
    Reply
  • rakez - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    as long as they stick with 4:3 i will never buy it. Reply
  • darkcrayon - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    Similarly, that's one of the best things about the iPad. I can't see using a widescreen tablet in portrait mode, there is pretty much no popular content that works well there. On the other hand, 4:3 isn't as good for video, but the net effect is that the video is just smaller. I'll take properly positioned and scaled documents and smaller video over larger video and tiny documents. Reply
  • shompa - Friday, March 30, 2012 - link

    You know that 16:9 is interesting if movies is the only thing you want to do.
    If you want to work on a tablet 16:9 does not work. You cant use landscape mode and see enough of the screen when you type. The 4:3 sceen is a bold move against tech nerds. I bet you are one of the tech nerds that screems when there are black bars on the side on you 16:9 TV. "why aren't the TV shows using the whole screen".
    Then stupid TV people listen to you and crop 4:3 TV shows to fit 16:9 and cutting of large part of the picture.

    The whole 16:9 debacle is actually a step backwards for the computing industry. Apple introduced widescreen displays early 2000. Steve made a great choose in 16:10. 2004 Apple invented the 2560x1600 screen. 16:10. Today its almost impossible to get a 16:10 screen. We all use TV LCDs for our computers = 16:9. 2560x1440. You loose 10% of real estate.
    Reply
  • KoolAidMan1 - Saturday, March 31, 2012 - link

    4:3 is better for web browsing and applications on a screen that size, the vertical room in landscape is great. It also makes for a much better balanced feel when holding it in portrait mode.

    Do you also like 16:9 on a desktop monitor? I sure don't, not unless it 27" 2560x1440
    Reply
  • rakez - Saturday, March 31, 2012 - link

    it's hard to argue with isheep and their products designed by god. i am pretty sure i know what i like more than someone else would know what i like. that being said, once again i prefer to not have 4:3 on my tablet. to each his own, Reply
  • Formul - Saturday, March 31, 2012 - link

    starting with isheep and ending with "to each his own" ... you do love your bipolarity, don't you? Reply
  • rakez - Saturday, March 31, 2012 - link

    sounds like i hit a nerve. go ahead keep following the herd. in the meantime i will buy what i want. Reply
  • PeteH - Monday, April 02, 2012 - link

    Out of curiosity, what do you dislike about the 4:3 aspect ratio, and what's your preferred aspect ratio? Reply

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