Five New Features In The 'New iPad'11:58 AM EST Fri. Mar. 09, 2012
Apple's latest iPad was unveiled this week with all the pomp, circumstance and anticipation that accompanies every major launch by the company. While perhaps disappointing to those dreaming of an iPad with Siri, wireless charging or a beefier front camera, the response has for the most part been quite positive; Apple packed in more communications, screen pixels and processing power while keeping the starting price at the original iPad 2 level of $499 (which now lists for $399).
Apple raised the bar on handheld displays at about this time last year with the release of the iPhone 4 and its Retina display. Now a screen with pixel density that more closely matches that of the human retina, there's an eye-popping resolution of 2,048 x 1,536. That's significantly greater than that of the monitor you're looking at right now. At 264 pixels per inch, the new iPad's display is a thing of beauty, literally doubling the pixels of its predecessor while maintaining the same multilanguage and fingerprint resistance characteristics of the iPad 2.
There's good news and bad from Apple about the new iPad's cameras and capture capability. The good news is that the main, back camera (now classified as an iSight camera) can capture 1,080p video at 30 fps with audio and image stabilization. This is due to a new 5-megapixel sensor and is a big step up from iPad 2's 720p capability. The bad news is that the front, FaceTime camera still grabs the measly 640 x 480 resolution of the decade-old VGA spec (albeit at 30 fps) for video and stills.
There's almost no physical difference between the new iPad and its predecessor, the iPad 2. They're identical in terms of height and width; the new iPad is .03 inches thicker. That's about the thickness of eight sheets of printer paper. The base unit weighs 1.44 pounds -- 0.11 pounds heaver than the iPad 2. Add another 0.02 pounds for the 4G radio.
With the addition of four graphics cores in its A5X system-on-chip, one might think that the new iPad would sacrifice a bit of its great battery life. Such is not the case according to Apple, which claims the same 10 hours of Wi-Fi Web surfing or media consumption and nine hours of cellular use on either device. Both the A5 and A5X circuits include ARM Cortex-based dual-core processors that are designed according to Apple's performance and power specifications.
Cosmetics aside, the biggest difference to consumers and resellers of the new iPad is in its communications capabilities. Like prior iPad models, it will be available for both AT&T and Verizon networks, but devices will not be interchangeable between networks and may not be network-compatible between iPad generations. Check with the carrier.
A new version of iOS now allows the iPad to be configured as a Wi-Fi hot spot for as many as five devices. What's more, iPad 2 offered Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, while the new iPad is equipped with Bluetooth 4.0, which adds high-speed and low-energy protocols and is backward-compatible. Wi-Fi capabilities are identical between old and new models. Pricing starts at $499 for Wi-Fi-only models and $629 for 4G. Availability is set for March 16.