I got to the Oakridge Apple store at 9:55 p.m., and asked if they still had any new iPads in stock.
"Yes," they replied, "But not all models. Like...we don't have the 16GB Wi-Fi version in white."
But they have most of the models still in stock, so I guess that's an iPad launch day fail. (My guess is that if there are any "sold out" Apple stores in the Silicon Valley area, it's probably the one at Westfield Valley Fair -- which is the mall that is, conveniently, located across the street from my apartment. Sometimes, even Steve Wozniak shops there. In case you're wondering, that mall closes at 9:30 p.m. on weekdays.)
Anyway, I went ahead and checked out the new iPads that were sitting around the store and I was...not super-impressed. Don't get me wrong -- it's new, and it's better than the last one, but it's not so much better that I feel compelled to upgrade. Heck, I don't even feel compelled to upgrade from the original iPad.
Here's what's different:
The Screen -- The new iPad gets a screen resolution jump, up from 1024 by 768 pixels to an impressive 2048 by 1536 pixels. This is a "retina" display, which basically means that the pixel density is so great that you can't see individual pixels. Does the screen look good? Yes. Does the screen look better than the iPad 2's screen? Absolutely. Can you tell that it's a different screen, even if you're not holding them side by side (as I was, since the Apple stores haven't upgraded their iPad docks that show you all the info about items)? Sure, why not.
|Yeah, the screen is noticeably different...but...I don't really care, and you probably don't either. (Image credit: Macworld)|
The Weight/Thickness -- The new iPad is slightly thicker and heavier than its predecessor, the iPad 2. The extra thickness isn't really noticeable, but the weight is. Of course, I have an original iPad, so who am I to be complaining about weight?
4G LTE Connection -- Well, I didn't really test out the 4G connection in the store, so I'm not sure if this is really all that impressive. I don't even use my iPad's 3G connection anymore, anyway -- I have a 4G Verizon phone, so I just tether my iPad to that. But...4G LTE is the future, or so they say.
A New Processor -- Apple unbiasedly claims that the new processor in the new iPad performs better than Nvidia's Tegra 3 processor. I guess we won't really know if that's true for awhile, though, because none of the game developers I talked to at GDC knew much about optimizing games for the new tablet (after all, the new tablet was released during GDC).
As for web browsing and other things that require fastness, well, I find that connection speed is much more an indicator of web browsing ability on the go than is processor speed. So that's back to the ol' 4G LTE connection question.
A 5MP Camera -- I think cameras on tablets are kind of a dumb idea anyway, but again -- my tablet doesn't have a camera, so what do I know? I'm sure the new iPad's front-facing camera is super snazzy, but the Oakridge Apple store has this awful, harsh overhead lighting that makes everyone look like crap, so I'm not certain I am qualified to judge that.
Some other stuff -- Apparently the new iPad has a bigger battery, but not more battery life? To keep up with the screen and the 4G LTE, presumably. And probably some other stuff. Like a processor that's manufactured by Samsung (so...about those lawsuits...) and extra RAM. Woo.
Bottom line: If I were going to buy an iPad right now...I would probably just get an original iPad. They're like $300 at the Apple's refurb site (and probably less, elsewhere), and that way I could also get a cheap Android tablet.
Don't get me wrong -- Apple's new tablet is pretty cool...but it's not that much cooler than Apple's first tablet. This is not like, original Zelda vs. Nintendo 3DS Zelda, or anything. It's more like Nintendo 3DS Zelda with the 3D turned off vs. Nintendo 3DS Zelda with the 3D turned on. The 3D is really cool! But not super-useful, and so not really something I'd pay hundreds of dollars for (instead, I got my Nintendo 3DS after a trade-in).
But, if you did happen to pick up the new iPad (or you have an old iPad), my buddy Alex has a good piece on iPad Tips & Tricks over at PCWorld.