Meet The New iPad: Third Generation

The new iPad is here. Apple's new tablet computer has arrived, and its ultra-sharp 2048x1536 retina display is enough to set it apart from anyone else. It's almost like looking at a glossy magazine page.

It also has much more powerful guts, with a much faster processor, graphics and more memory. And it's 4G ready. Sort of.

Retina display

The Retina display looks gorgeous. The screen has a 264 pixels per inch density. That's a total 3.1 million pixels in a full-colour IPS screen. The image colour seems a lot better too. They say it has 44 per cent more saturation than the previous IPS technology they were using.

Apple claims that it is still a retina display because, when you held it at a normal distance, you just can't see the pixels. That distance is 15 inches. For the iPhone, which has a smaller screen, it is 10 inches. I can't wait to test this thing with all my comics (I wonder if Marvel will have to upload them all again).

The demonstrated it running a new version of Autodesk Sketchbook Ink, a new painting app that is vector-based and resolution independent. It actually seems like you are painting on a real page.

Processor and graphics power

The processor is an A5x, which includes a quad-core graphics module. It's going to need all that graphics muscle if it has to push 3.1 million pixels.

According to Apple, it's twice as fast as a Tegra 3 and has "four times" the graphics performance. Hot damn.

New camera

The new iPad has a new 5MP camera on the back with a side-illuminated sensor, a 5-element lens and an infrared filter. It's basically the same configuration as on the iPhone 4S, with three fewer megapixels. Serious specs for a tablet camera — you can expect to see more people carrying around iPads taking pictures of things. Great.

<h31080p video recording

The rear camera, which Apple calls the iSight Camera (the front-facing one is the Facetime camera), is capable of capturing 1080p video, which obviously looks razor sharp on the iPad's display. The video, like the iPhone 4S, is also stabilised.

Apple says it has temporal noise reduction, which is a rather clever technique that greatly reduces the noise of video by comparing what pixels actually move and guessing what is noise and what is actual detail.

Dictation

The new iPad's operating system offers a new microphone button, which will allow you to dictate emails, presumably using technology related to Siri technology. There was no actual mention of Siri assistance.

iWork and iLife

To take advantage of its fancy new retina display, higher res camera and boosted processor, the iWork and iLife apps for the iPad HD have also been updated, adding new functionality and features boosting what a mobile app is capable of.

Garage Band now has something called Smart Strings, a note editor with integration to iCloud allowing you to save and share your creations in the cloud. And the ability to collaborate and play with other virtual instruments in real-time, presumably a wireless connection.

iMovie will also take advantage of the new iPad's ability to finally record videos in 1080P. In addition to being able to automatically generate trailers, filmmakers will be able to mock up and plan out storyboards before they start shooting, presumably using stills from the iPad's camera. But if you haven't been a fan of Apple's recent UI endeavours which make everything look like a pocket day-planner, you might be disappointed by iMovie's gratuitous use of binder rings.

Apple is also introducing iPhoto to the iPad's repertoire. For $5.49, available today, it turns the iPad's standard Photos app into a mobile version of Photoshop Elements. Letting you use multitouch gestures to adjust exposures, paint out blemishes, crop, straighten and navigate your galleries. It's even smart enough to group similar photos together, and can handle images up to 19MP in size from your DSLR if you need to perform a quick edit or adjustment on the road.

You can also create photo journals, which are of course heavily dependent on templates, but it makes it easier to create a more captivating way to share the photos from your recent travels. And like iMovie, it's heavily connected to iCloud and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

4G LTE connectivity

Apple says the new 4G LTE connectivity will give you 21Mbps on HSPA+ networks, 42Mbps on DC-HSDPA and 73Mbps on LTE. Of course, these speeds are theoretical. It will run on both AT&T and Verizon networks in the US. According to Phil Schiller, the new model "has the most wireless bands that has ever shipped". Unfortunately, the LTE features won't necessarily work in Australia.

Memory and other guts

Apple is not mentioning actual specifications for the guts of the machine, but it's pretty clear that the memory — not the storage, but RAM used for running the OS and the applications — has increased too, if only to handle the new resolution.

Mike Capps, from Epic Games, says that it has more memory than an Xbox 360 or a PlayStation 3. Presumably, his comment refers to graphics memory. We will know soon how much this is exactly.

Physical specifications

Surprisingly, they have kept the package practically just the same as the previous version: only 0.03 inches thicker than the iPad 2 at 0.37 inches (9.4mm). The weight is only 0.64kg.

Launch date

You will be able to get it on March 16, but the preorder starts today. It will be available in the US, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia on the same day.

Apple’s elected to retain the iPad 2 as its budget line model, in much the same way that you can get an iPhone 4 quite cheaply. If you want more storage you’ll have to upgrade to the new “resolutionary” iPad, but the base model 16GB iPad 2 will sell for $429 (Wi-Fi only) or $569 (Wi-Fi + 3G).

But that’s not what you’re keen on, right? The new iPad pricing starts at $539 for the Wi-Fi 16GB model; 32GB is $649 and 64GB is $759. 3G (and technically 4G) is a $140 premium, so the 16GB models run to $679, $789 and $899 respectively. Full Australian pricing and pre-order info at: New iPad And Apple TV: What’s The Aussie Picture?

One more thing

The name. Did you notice it? The name is not iPad HD. It just iPad. Which demonstrates two things.

First, that rumours are bullshit (but I always tell you that. All the rumours are when it comes to Apple. They just become true if you give them enough time).

Then, and most importantly, it shows that Apple has finally realised that this naming scheme was going nowhere. Does iPad 15 make any sense to you? No. Which is why they have just adopted the same strategy as they adopted with MacBooks and iMacs. Just call them by their name and attach a year number or some other descriptive string in your stock systems. It makes sense.

So much sense that I bet they will call the iPhone 5 just the iPhone. You heard that rumour here first, folks! BELIEVE IT!

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