Posted on15 March 2012 2:52 PM GMT

If you already have an iPad 2, is it worth getting the brand new 3rd Generation?

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New iPad’ (not ’3’!) was launched with the usual hyperbolic aplomb last Thursday - including axes- and context-free comparative charts, and weighing in at just a fraction more than its predecessor, as well as being a fraction thicker. Appearance-wise though, it looks as different to the iPad 2 as iPhone 4S does to the 4! Of course it’s available from the Apple Store tomorrow.

So what’s genuinely new?

  • Retina Screen - 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution - into a 9.7 inch screen - properly amazing!
  • A5X Quad Core Processor - Supposedly great for graphics handling, yet processor clock speed remains the same, at circa 1 GHz
  • 1GB of Ram - Finally Apple steps into line with the now majority of Android devices which boast 1 Gig of RAM
  • 5MP iSight Camera - Obviously improved rear camera, now available to record HD video too at 1080p and 30 fps
  • 4G LTE Support - 4th generation cellular network support - will find little use in Europe at the moment, UK 4G auction is not due until next year (2013)!

As to whether the new one is worth it - this is entirely dependent on how you use your device!

I’ve never used my iPad Camera for snaps, so it’s kind of irrelevant how high res the cameras are - as long as they work well enough for Skype! 4G is a non-starter for me as a UK citizen, in any case I would probably favour the Wi-Fi model, as I don’t take the iPad around and about so much in that sense, I more rely on my iPhone when I’m out and about.

I’m sure the RAM expansion will help, as will the improved graphics processor aid my enjoyment of High Res games and video. The real reason to update though is the vastly improved resolution, and thus increased real-estate of the screen.

I recently returned from vacation in Gran Canaria, and I took my iPad (2) along to keep abreast of emails and various happenings at work. The iPad is fine for scanning through emails, and summary replies, but leaves a lot to be desired as a proper work-horse (e.g. trying to work with interlaced browsing). The current screen resolution is too small, and the absence of Flash still hurts. I was at one stage trying to check opening times for some of the clubs in the area - and these still relied on largely Flash websites. There is of course a gradual shift over to HTML 5, but it is surprising just how much Flash there still is out there on the web.

Apple have updated their iBooks format to work with the higher resolution, and there are some new launch titles like ’Infinity Blade Dungeons’ which make use of the additional pixels, but for most, the initial advantage will come through better screen space for browsing and reading. It’s going to take a few months for most of the key apps to update to take advantage of the new screen.

For UK users, there really is no overwhelming pressing need to get a new iPad device. I will probably give it a few weeks before I contemplate upgrade. My iPad is used mostly for leisure activities, and thus qualifies as a second-tier device. As mobile devices go, my preferences are for iPhone and Amazon Kindle Reader when on the hoof; for travel, a slimline laptop (e.g. MacBook Air) is preferable, and for work, nothing compares with my iMac desktop.

When I initially reviewed the iPad I said it would best find its home in the lounge, bathroom and kitchen - for more casual browsing / use, I still stand by that. The iPad so far is a ’nice to have’ rather than an essential for me, I’m sure this will change with increased domestic automation etc. when the iPad will be used icreasingly as a domestic control dashboard, but that is still some way off now...

Posted by Stefan
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Stefan Stefan
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