Rico Cruz's Blog
Rico Cruz male Staff Writer
Rico is the newest member of the HardwareZone team, having joined in June 2011, lured by his love of all things technology. He has been an avid follower of technology news since his high school days and is therefore no stranger to technology trends, past and present.
Right after its launch, we put together a special feature detailing all the new features of Apple’s new iPad. However, I thought that maybe it might be too technical for most people, and with the incredible amount of interest with the new device (much like any other major Apple product launch), I think it's a good idea to lay them all out again in more layman terms.
In the run-up to Apple’s March 7 iPad event (March 8 in Asia) the Internets were buzzing with two main names for Apple’s next tablet. Some called it the iPad 3, which made the most sense, since the then current model was the iPad 2. For the people who had been diligently checking the rumor mills, they called it the iPad HD, as the rumor that seemed to be most likely true (and turned out as such) was that new tablet would feature a screen with a much higher resolution.
While the second camp got the feature right, neither were on target for the name. It was announced as the “new” iPad, the word “new” isn’t really part of the name. If you look back at Apple’s product history, they never really put number designations on them until the iPhone 4 and iPad 2 came out (the iPhone 3G doesn’t count because 3G refers to the phone’s new 3G network capabilities). We’re not so sure why they started doing that, but they’re hitting the brakes hard with the new iPad.
You see, it’s basically a branding thing. The MacBook, the iMac, the iPod, etc., never had numbers attached to them, and so there’s no reason why the iPad should too. By calling it the “new” iPad, Apple effectively puts it in line with the rest of its products. While the move does create some confusion now, it's a good move for the long run. Consumers have made sense of the different generations of Apple's other products by putting the year or "nth" generation after the name in parentheses. For example, there's the MacBook Air (1st generation) and there's the MacBook Air (2011). This also helps push old stock out of inventory since the difference between the new and old models is not as apparent, unless you really do your research. So, if anyone asks, just say 2012 iPad or 3rd generation iPad.
The biggest (quite literally) new feature of the new iPad is its screen. The previous two iPads had a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels, which is basically the same resolution as the majority of computer displays today. The new iPad's display has a resolution of 2048 x 1536. Simple mathematics will show you that it is exactly double that of the older models. While we have yet to see it for ourselves, we can kind of already tell from the photos that this is a big deal. A good number of people have played down this new feature since it doesn't mean the new iPad is thinner or lighter (it's actually 0.1 pounds or 45g heavier), but we already know it is going to make a huge difference. Why? Go to YouTube and pick out an HD video. Watch it first in 360p, then switch it up to 720p or 1080p and you'll see what we mean. Once you go higher up on resolution, you don't want to go back.
There is one caveat though, and that is vector graphics. Some games for iOS are drawn using this technique, which adapts to any screen resolution, which means they will look pretty much the same on an iPad 2 and the new iPad. When you think about it though, that's just a small part of what people use their iPads for. Everything else, like photos and video get much, much clearer. Apart from clarity, the new display also has 44% more color saturation. Even I can't imagine what 44% more of anything is like, but more saturation in general means that greens will be greener and reds will be redder, giving images more "pop" than on the older iPads.
Also updated on the new iPad is its rear camera. The iPad 2 was the first model to have one, which could record video at a pretty decent 720p. Apple doesn't mention though that for still images that means 0.92 megapixels. How many megapixels does the new iPad have? Five. That may not be enough to replace your handy point and shoot, or the 8-megapixel shooter on your iPhone 4S, but it is more than good enough for casual snapshots for Facebook and is definitely better than zero-point-nine megapixels. Not only that, the camera on the new iPad can now record in full HD or 1080p. This makes the new iPad a more serious option for taking pictures and video, even though one still looks rather ridiculous doing it.
The New Chip
During the keynote, Apple's head honchos were keen to compare the new iPad's A5X chip to the quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor found in its closest rivals like the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime. They claimed that the new CPU was four times faster than the Tegra 3, without actually showing any hard benchmark tests to prove it. So what do we know? Well, the A5X is similar to the A5 found in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4 because it also has two cores. The man difference is that it comes with a separate quad-core graphics processing unit, which helps speed things up when running graphics-intensive applications(which is why Apple says the new iPad has "quad-core graphics.") This is all well and good, but if you factor in the new iPad's doubled resolution and 5-megapixel camera, then it means that the new chip has just the right amount of power to run the show . This would account for the many first impressions of the new iPad as being just as snappy as the iPad 2, with no discernable difference. As for Apple's claims over NVIDIA, we'll just have to wait and see if they really are true.
The reaction to the new iPad's launch reminds us a lot of the reaction to the iPhone 4S, that is, one of general disappointment. I can understand why, because just like the iPhone 4S, it looks exactly the same as the older model, while Apple talks up its upgraded innards. While I am under the opinion that the upgrade from iPhone 4 to the iPhone 4S is hard to justify, I firmly believe that (even just on paper) the new iPad is leaps and bounds better than the iPad 2. It may not feel much faster (so they say), but in most other aspects, the upgrades are dramatic enough to warrant a purchase. The best person to be right now is the one who held out on buying an iPad. As for the first generation iPad and iPad 2 owners, the hurdle is being able to sell your model in the secondary market as soon as you can, as we're sure that it will be flooded. Unless of course, you don't mind having two iPads.
For more information, please visit the official Apple website.