Advantages The Retina display, its fast, thousands of apps, user friendly
Disadvantages The Retina apps take up a lot of room, price of the 3g models
|Look & Feel|
|Memory / capacity|
|Comfort & Portability|
I have resisted buying an iPad since they first came out because I had an iPod touch and although I loved the actual touch I hated with a passion the fact that I was so reliant on iTunes for all my content.
I bought my first tablet which was a Samsung galaxy tab 7, then I upgraded to a Blackberry playbook which didn’t last long mainly due to the fact it had no decent apps available for it and then when deciding on which tablet to buy myself I finally decided to just give in and buy an iPad and I am so glad I did as I absolutely love it.
The new Apple ipad is the tablet’s 3rd incarnation and was released in the UK on Friday March 16th and I was lucky enough to get mine on the release day instead of having to wait a few weeks for stocks to replenish.
For anyone who is familiar with the iPad 2 the iPad 3 isn’t a huge upgrade on what came before it in terms of looks and it still has the gorgeous curved styling of its predecessor and side by side there are only a few small changes to distinguish them. Most of the changes come in the form of upgrades to the inside of the iPad making it faster and more powerful.
The new iPad is available in a variety of different storage sizes which are 16GB, 32GB and 64GB and you can get these in either WI-FI only or Wi-FI and 3G.
I picked the 32GB WI-FI only version as I didn’t feel I needed to pay the extra £100 for the 3G version as my phone acts as a mobile hotspot and besides I didn’t want to be forking out extra every month on a data plan.
Obviously the higher the storage the more you are going to pay with the lowest 16GB WI-FI only model costing £399, the 32GB version costing £479 and the 64GB version costing £559. For 3G add £100 on top of each of the prices.
Power is provided by a dual core A5 chip which Apple say is capable of giving the iPad quad core graphics. There is also 1GB of RAM to make everything run smoothly.
I have always been a fan of Apple’s design and the new iPad is no exception. I think it is absolutely gorgeous looking and it doesn’t have the cheap look and feel to it that so many other tablets have.
It is basically a rectangular shape with a thick bezel of either glossy white or black running the whole length of the screen.
Around the back it is made of aluminium and slightly curved. It is very minimal in its design with only the barest minimum of buttons on it. There is the home button which is positioned right in the middle of the bottom part of the bezel then there are only the on/off button on top and to the side the volume rockers and mute button. Other than buttons there is only a small lens for the backwards facing camera and upfront a tiny pin prick hole which is the front facing camera used for video chats.
The screen on the new iPad is the most impressive feature for me personally. The screen is 9.7 inches and Apple have given this newest iPad a Retina upgrade. This just means that they have packed in a huge amount of pixels into the screen. 1536x2048 is the exact number. This means that the iPad is now a proper HD tablet capable of playing even 1080p video as it is meant to be seen.
To me personally it isn’t quite as nice as the screen on my Samsung Galaxy S2 smartphone but this is mainly due to the fact that it just isn’t quite as bright and vivid but it is still stunning and the amazing thing about it is that there is absolutely no pixilation on anything. Even when I zoom right into text or a picture I can’t see even the slightest hint of a pixel and everything looks so clear and smooth that I could easily forget that I was looking at an electronic screen.
I also find that viewing angles are excellent so that when I am browsing the internet or watching a film I can see all the action even without having to position it at a certain angle. I can also make out everything on screen even outside though I do have to make sure that I have brightness turned up to maximum.
The only problem with the screen is that it is a magnet for fingerprints even though it is supposed to have a finger print resistant coating and within a few minutes of using the iPad it is already covered in them which is a bit of a pain as the smudges from my fingers does distract me when I am trying to concentrate on something on screen.
The iPad is designed to be used as a multi-media machine and this is basically what I am using it for. I am not using it as a replacement for my laptop (though there are some excellent apps which does make the need for a laptop less and I can see in a couple of years tablets making desktops and laptops obsolete) but I am finding that I am using my iPad for a lot of things I used to rely on my laptop for.
Internet is one of the main things I am using the iPad for instead of my laptop. Performance is really fast and web pages load up just as quick and sometimes a lot quicker than they do on my laptop and they look excellent on the screen. I find that the screen size is almost perfect for the internet and I very rarely have the need to zoom in to read what is on the screen which is something I hate having to do on my mobile.
The on board Safari browser is user friendly and I find that it fits my needs fine as I am able to have multiple tabs open at once and go back and forth between sites easily and bookmark all my favourite content. There are several options for other browsers in the app store though if you decide that you want to use a different one.
I have read in some reviews about the new iPad that some people were complaining about the WI-FI reception but in my experience I have had no problems with the iPad being able to pick up my signal and in fact it can pick up the signal further away than I can with my laptop. It also doesn’t lose the signal very often either.
I have loaded up a few HD movies to my iPad and several television shows to watch when I am away from home and these look amazing on the screen.
There is still the old problem I remember from when I had my iPod touch with having to convert everything to be able to watch them on the included media player as Apple still hasn’t bothered to make their products media friendly and they only support a few formats and not even the most popular ones like Xvids.
It is a total pain to convert videos and it takes absolutely ages to do it but I have got around this by downloading a different media player from the app store which supports all sorts of files so I can now just drag and drop my videos into the media player in iTunes and they are put almost instantly onto my iPad for viewing whenever I want.
Music is done through iTunes and this is still one of Apples strongest points. You can either buy your music from iTunes or else import your CD collection. You can also play your own music files you might already have on your computer as long as they aren’t DRM protected. This is all easy to do and music sounds excellent on the iPad.
One of my favourite things about the iPad is iBooks. This is an app that allows you to read books and magazines on your iPad. I have a kindle which I still use for heavy reading as the E-ink is better for my eyes but I have several books and magazines already on the iPad and I use it loads for when I am travelling on the train etc.
I love the way my books look on the app and they appear on a shelf which does make them look really good and it is so easy to find the one that I want. They also look lovely when reading them either in landscape or portrait mode and I like the fact that when my iPad is in portrait mode the screen mimics an actual book with double pages.
iBooks can also read PDF files which is how most magazines come and these get their own shelf. It is great to be able to load up a few magazines and be able to read them whenever I want. They look great and swiping between pages is really smooth.
Again you can either buy books and magazines straight from Apple or else you can add your own as long as they aren’t DRM protected and this is simple to do from iTunes.
You can find almost any kind of game you want for the iPad and Apples claim that it offers quad core graphics looks to be correct as there are some amazingly complicated games available. There is of course the basic games like angry birds which are fun and kill time but you can also buy games such as Infinity Blade 2 which really make use of the Retina display and look as good as any game on a console.
The only problem that I personally have is some of these graphic heavy games also have complicated controls and I can’t really get my head around playing them on a touch screen even though the controls on the iPad are the best I have ever used.
Content is really where Apple have the edge over everyone else in my opinion. Unlike with my Saumsung and definitely with my Blackberry no matter what I want I can find it on the app store. There are literally hundreds of thousands of apps to choose from and there are some amazing apps in there. Getting them on the iPad is also simple as it just involves me going to the app store from my iPad and downloading the app. This doesn’t take long and is pretty much idiot proof. The stores are also a revelation for me compared to the mess of the google android store. Everything is laid out in an easy to use way and the search function is great. I can check on what popular apps are available and what other people are buying and it really is a joy to use.
One of the reasons that I resisted getting an iPad for so long was that I remembered iTunes being such a hassle to use and how restrictive it was. It seems that it has been much improved since then and I am finding it to be much more user friendly and more streamlined than before with it being much easier to add my own content without having to purchase everything direct from Apple.
I am finding the battery life to be amazing so far. I probably use my iPad for about 2 to 3 hours a day and I can manage about 3 days without having to charge it up. Obviously if you are using it all day then you are probably going to have to charge it every night but when the iPad is in sleep mode it uses practically no battery power so when I forget to charge it overnight I know that I am still going to have enough juice to get me through the day.
Once it does need charged though I find that it takes absolutely ages to charge fully. Probably about 5 or 6 hours from flat to fully charged which is annoying as I would like it if Apple had done something to the battery to make it charge quicker.
Performance is excellent and I can have several apps open at once and I have never once noticed it lag or struggle to keep up even when playing the most graphically demanding games. Video runs smooth with no juddering and so far I have yet to find anything that is too demanding for it to handle.
There are so many features on the new iPad that I could easily write another 5000 words on it but as nobody wants to know all the geek things it can do I will try and stick to the main points.
On the back there is a 5 mega pixel camera which does a fairly decent job of taking snaps but to be honest who is really going to use a tablet of this size for taking pictures. It is handy to have in a pinch but not something I personally consider to be important. Much more useable is the front facing camera for video chats. The iPad is perfect for video chatting but unfortunately the camera is really low quality and I wish Apple had put a better on there.
A neat little feature is dictation which I think I am right in saying is new to the iPad 3. This is a feature which you tap when the onscreen keyboard is up and instead of typing you just dictate to the microphone and the iPad will type what you say. In theory this sounds great and I have had some fun using it but more often than not it doesn’t catch 100% of what I say and I do have to use the keyboard to correct it. Perhaps this is to do with me being Scottish but if they can just refine this a little I can see this being a fantastic selling point for the iPad especially for lazy typers like me.
Talking of the onscreen keyboard it is a pleasure to use and is really accurate and after using it a couple of days I got quite fast on it and now I have no trouble knocking out a long email really quickly with it. I am still going to buy myself a physical keyboard at some point but because the virtual one is so good there is no desperate rush.
I am completely in love with my iPad. I love my gadgets and this has gone straight to the top of the pile as far as genuine usability goes. I use it every day without fail and it isn’t one of those things that you buy and then use for a couple of days before putting it in a drawer and forgetting about it. Sure there isn’t anyone who actually needs an iPad but it is one of those items that once you have you will wonder why you didn’t get one earlier.
There is absolutely nothing that would stop me highly recommending the new iPad to people other than probably the price which I personally don’t think is bad when you compare it to what most tablets are selling for.
It can get slightly uncomfortable when holding it outstretched for long periods of time but I get around this by just laying it on my lap.
You might have read about people complaining about the iPad heating up and I can confirm that it does get warm on the back after using it for prolonged periods of time. However it is only a slight warming and it is never hot and certainly isn’t uncomfortable so I have no idea what people are complaining about.
If you can afford one then I really do recommend buying this over a cheaper one as from my experience it has been so much better to use and does absolutely everything that I think I could want in a tablet.
One last piece of advice that I could give to people who are considering buying the new iPad is to get one with as much storage as you can afford as unfortunately due to the beautiful Retina display the apps are bigger and HD movies take up a lot of room. I was originally going to get the 16GB as I thought this would be enough for me but I’m glad I went for the 32GB as you will want s many apps and it really does start to fill up fast.
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