Review: Apple iPad (third-generation)

Apple's new iPad is an incremental upgrade rather than a revolutionary one.

Apple's new iPad

Apple's new iPad

Apple's new iPad is an incremental upgrade rather than a revolutionary one.

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Retina display

There is one key feature that makes the new iPad a great device — the "retina" display. The resolution of 2048x1536 is double that of the original iPad. This gives it a pixel per inch (ppi) of 263, a significant increase over the 132ppi of the iPad 2. The display resolution is higher than most high-definition televisions.

If you couldn't care less about numbers, you should care about the end result — a brilliant, crystal clear screen. It's by far and away the best display on any mobile device I've seen. Text is crisp and clear with no visible aberrations, even when zoomed right in. Photos and videos look bright and vivid but not over-saturated like many other mobile displays. In fact, the iPad's screen is so sharp that it constantly highlights the low quality of many images on the Internet. After using the new iPad, going back to the iPad 2 (or most other mobile displays) makes text and images look blurry and low quality by comparison.

As a result of the retina display, iPad apps need to be updated by developers to take advantage of the higher resolution. Apple has naturally updated its default apps (like Mail, Safari, Calendar etc.) but many third-party apps have yet to be updated. You can easily tell which ones these are by simply looking at the logo on the iPad's home screen: they are blurry in comparison.

Most upgraded apps that support the iPad's retina display are significantly larger in size. For example, Apple's Pages app is now 269MB compared to the 95MB it was previously. For users with 16GB iPad models, its foreseeable that they will run out of storage space if they install a lot of apps. For this reason, it's disappointing that Apple hasn't released an iPad with a larger storage capacity than 64GB.

New iSight camera

There are a few other aspects of the new iPad that need to be mentioned. It has a significantly upgraded camera to the one on the iPad 2, which was a dreadful 0.7-megapixels. The new iPad's camera features some of the same technology used in the iPhone 4S, but in a 5-megapixel lens with backside-illuminated sensor. It also doubles as a full HD 1080p video recorder. Personally, I don't see the big deal about a rear camera on a tablet: taking photos with the iPad is simply impractical, but if you are to use it as a snapper it will do a relatively good job. Images aren't as sharp or clear as the excellent camera on the iPhone 4S, but they are certainly good enough for small prints.

The more important camera on any tablet is the front-facing one, and on the new iPad this disappointingly remains a low quality, VGA snapper. The front camera is used for a wide variety of video apps, including video calls over Skype and Apple's own Facetime application. While both of these particular apps work, the quality of video isn't great.

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