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I’ve been more or less inseparable from my new iPad since it arrived last Friday, and I’m happy to report that it’s another magical Apple device.  The obvious reason to upgrade to this iPad is its retina display, and I can tell you first hand that it IS worth the price of admission.  I’ve never seen digital imagery look so clear and detailed in my life, and I make it my personal mission to always possess the latest and greatest technological gear, so I have an ample amount of devices to compare it to.  Apple wasn’t f*cking around when they said that the new iPad’s display is even more HD than your HDTV sets!

Sure the display is great, but the new iPad also has some vast performance gains with its A5X quad-core chip, and the inclusion of 1GB of RAM, which are immediately realized while playing high-end games, or doing some multitasking.  If you’ve been undecided on the need to upgrade to the new iPad, or make the jump to the penultimate tablet, then I urge you to read my full review below.  Trust me, there’s no better tablet on the face of the Earth at this time, and if you don’t believe me it’s because you haven’t awaken from your PC dreamworld yet!  I used to have the same close minded views on Apple products, but after adopting the iPad 2 last year I’ve had an epiphany, and will never look back.  Their sh*t just works! Believe it!

 

The new iPad

EB 9 out of 10 Buddhas

The Awesome: Retina Display, Overall Performance Gains, iSight Camera

The Not so Awesome: Dimmer Display in Low Light, Crap Front Camera, Lack of Retina-ized Apps

 

The Awesome

Retina Display

Without a doubt the most awesome new feature of the 3rd-gen iPad is its retina display.  It’s so amazing looking that you owe it to yourself to at least demo a unit at your local Best Buy to take in its glory.  Pixels are almost non-existent to the naked eye, and the only way you’ll see them is if you are using a non-retina-ized app, or less than high quality wallpaper.  If you have an iPhone 4 then you know what to expect in a retina display, but when you see one on the much larger iPad, your jaw will drop as if a bus full of naked supermodels just pulled into your driveway with a sign saying, “Do Us!”

Unless you’re viewing this review on the new iPad you won’t even begin to realize the retina display’s quality

Gaming graphics, especially if the game has been bumped up to the new resolution, are simply breathtaking.  I promise you that you’ve never seen a more graphically crisp game than Mass Effect: Infiltrator, or Infinity Blade II in action when they’re running on the new iPad.  The images and action are so clear that you feel like you’re looking at a living picture in the palm of your hands.  You’ll notice screenshots throughout this review, and they look great, but you can’t even begin to realize how solid they look unless you have a retina display to view them on.

The retina display on the new iPad also makes text look sharper than it seems in print.  It’s so refined that I even find myself reading more just to appreciate the amazing clarity of the digital book pages.  With this new larger retina display Apple has laid down a challenge to digital screen makers around the galaxy.  After using it your other HD gadgets will look subpar, and leave you wishing for an Apple TV display that also sports this amazing achievement in resolution.  Like Apple said, the new iPad’s display is truly resolutionary!

EB looking boss on the new iPad!

Overall Performance Gains

In addition to the immense visual improvements in the new iPad, it also has other impressive performance gains that can’t be looked over.  The inclusion of the new A5X chip with quad-core speeds is easily noticed while playing some of the higher end games that I mentioned above.  These games both ran fine on the iPad 2, but on the new iPad they’re smoking.  Load times are noticeably faster than the deuce, and I haven’t noticed any chugging occurring during some of the heavier action moments experienced in these games.

The same can be said for some of the more process intense apps like iPhoto, iMovie, Safari, and Youtube.  Each one of these apps seemed to handle whatever actions I threw at them without skipping a beat.  I think I’m most impressed with how much faster Safari seems.  I’m not sure if its a placebo effect from owning the new iPad, or actually a better performing app on the 3rd-gen tablet, but Safari browsing seems faster than ever.  I can say the same for the native Youtube app as well, which also seems to load videos much quicker than before.  Obviously, these noticeable gains in performance are due to the increased RAM and newer CPU, so if you’ve been feeling like your old tablet is getting more sluggish than you’d like I’d recommend putting a plan together to buy the new iPad.

new iPad (3rd Gen) Performance Demo: Gaming, Net, Youtube

iSight Camera

The iPad 2 has a rear camera, but it is sh*t.  The same can’t be said about the new iSight camera found in the new iPad.  The tablet itself still feels awkward to use as a camera, because its size isn’t conducive to photography, but now that it’s upgraded I can say that it takes some solid pictures and videos.  I’ve used both the video camera and still camera in both indoor and outdoor lighting, and I was pleasantly surprised with the results.  In fact, I was so impressed with its 1080p video recording capabilities that I finally decided to download iMovie for iOS.  I can now see a use for it due to the much improved iSight camera.

Indoor shots

Outdoor shots

You can view some of the comparisons below, and I think you’ll be impressed, especially for those of you that owned the iPad 2.  I can honestly say that I was just impressed with the new iSight camera as I was with the retina display on the new iPad (Ok maybe not as impressed, but close).  It’s just another reason why the new iPad is better than your old tablet!

The new iPad (3rd Gen) HD Video Camera Demo: Indoor/Outdoor 

 

The Not so Awesome

Dimmer Display in Low Light

Some may not see this as a negative, but I must warn you about it.  If you enable auto brightness on the new iPad, which you should, you will notice that it gets much darker in low light conditions.  When I say much darker I’m referring to the iPad 2’s display in the same lighting conditions.  I’d imagine this is an intentional effect that Apple employed to help maintain the 10 hour battery life with the demands of the new retina display, so like I mentioned this may be a good thing to some of you.  I just found the display in dark lighting to cause me to strain a bit more than I’d like, but in the end it’s worth the sacrifice to keep my battery humming for hours on end.

Notice the drastic difference between the new iPad (top), and the iPad 2 (bottom)

Crap Front Camera

Unfortunately, the 1990’s web cam quality returns with the front facing camera on the new iPad.  For the life of me I can’t figure out why Apple didn’t at least try to upgrade the megapixels slightly in the front camera.  It’s low quality clashes with the excellent looking retina display, and while using it you look like a pixelated figure that doesn’t come close to echoing Apple’s approach to cutting edge technology.  It’s a minor complaint, but definitely one that prevented the new iPad from receiving a perfect score.

Lack of Retina-ized Apps

I wouldn’t blame this issue entirely on Apple unless they didn’t inform their app development community about the incoming new iPad retina display.  I was disheartened to find out that there are only about 47 apps that have been retina-ized.  I would have thought that most app devs who got the notice about the incoming super HD display would’ve updated their app’s graphics, but that just isn’t the case.  This is not to say that all of the apps for iPad look like sh*t, but they don’t exude the graphical quality that the new retina display can support.  I’d imagine that this will be addressed over the next few weeks, but currently you shouldn’t expect to have all of your apps in retina display quality when you load them onto the new iPad.

Retina enhanced apps = eye sex

 

The Final Verdict

If you’ve been telling yourself that you don’t need the new iPad because it doesn’t offer that many improvements over the 2, you’re in denial.  I get it, not everyone can piss money away on gadget upgrades every year, but don’t tell me that you aren’t getting the new iPad because it isn’t that much better than your old one.  It’s a bullish*t excuse, just say you can’t get it because your strapped for cash, because the new iPad is without a doubt heads and tails better than the iPad 2, as well as all of those other knock off tablets from the likes of Samsung, Sony, and Motorola.

The retina display and improved performance are worth the price of admission alone.  I promise you that you’ll drool all over yourself when you see this thing in action.  The new iPad has managed to make all of my other HD enabled devices look like things of the past.  With the much improved iSight camera and increased RAM, taking and editing high quality photos on your iPad are more efficient than ever.

Outside of some minor issues with the dim display in dark light, the cruddy front facing cam, and the lack of retina-ized apps, the new iPad is another amazing piece of Apple tech that will drive their profits into space.  For this I give the new iPad an EB 9 out of 10 Buddhas.  It really is worth upgrading if you have some cash lying around, or even better, a Best Buy card, so if you’ve been on the fence about picking one up, I hope this review has pushed you to one side or the other!  I love mine and have no regrets, and so will you!  You’ve been thinking that you should really get on the tablet bandwagon at this point in time…

The new iPad Unboxing: White 64GB WiFi [HD]

The new iPad Photo Gallery

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Tags : Best OfImpressionsRetina DisplayThe new iPad
Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of EntertainmentBuddha.com where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he's not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB's Star Wars Time podcast show.