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The (yawn) New iPad vs iPad 2

Posted By : Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on March 9, 2012 3:06 PM

Question

In your opinion, is the iPad 3 worth it or should I just buy an iPad 2 and save money?

- Kyle

Answer

This question was answered on March 9, 2012. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

The recent announcement of the upcoming New iPad (it’s not being called the iPad 3 or iPad HD as widely rumored) has a lot of people asking the same question.

The primary ‘upgrades’ to the new iPad include a Retina display (much like that of the iPhone 4S), a better rear facing camera, support for 4G LTE and a faster processor.

The New iPad comes in the same physical package as the iPad 2, so it won’t look any different.

Despite Apple’s attempts to label this a revolutionary product, I don’t see this as anything other than an evolution of the existing product line.

Retina Display

The new display technology is bound to be more impressive and faster, especially if you were to compare it side-by-side with an iPad 2, but the reality is that you won’t use it that way.

The display on the iPad 2 is pretty darn good for reading your e-mails, surfing the web, watching movies, playing games and using apps (many of which are still stretched versions of iPhone apps anyway).

If you’re an avid reader of ebooks, want to play the newer action games that support higher resolutions or really want to zoom in on text to see if it will stay smooth (one of Apple’s demos), you’re likely going to benefit from this new display.

iSight Camera

The upgraded 5 megapixel rear facing camera that they are calling an iSight camera is a vast improvement over the iPad 2’s laughable 0.7 megapixel camera and the video capture capability goes from 720p to 1080p (the front facing VGA camera remains the same).

Having said all of that, I’ve used the camera on my iPad 2 a handful of times in the year that I have owned it, not because of the poor quality images but because it’s just not a great form-factor for taking pictures and videos. In fact, I feel kind of foolish using an iPad as a camera, especially shooting video because it’s so unnatural. Shooting video outside with an iPad can be especially challenging since the display is hard to see in direct sunlight.

4G LTE

If you really want to pay for yet another data plan, you certainly will be surfing, streaming and downloading faster than us iPad 2 owners. You can only get 4G LTE service on the New iPad from AT&T or Verizon and I’d highly recommend you make sure that actual 4G service is available in the areas that you frequent (home, office, school, etc.) before you sign up for another data plan.

I’ve always purchased wifi only iPads and used my existing laptop USB data device with Cradlepoint’s personal hotspots ( http://goo.gl/c8Oc2 ) whenever I’m not near a wifi connection. This way, I can use all my mobile devices (up to 16 at a time) on one data plan.

A5X Dual-Core Processor

We don’t have any specific published speed differences from Apple when it comes to the actual processor, but what is significant in the A5X is the quad-core graphics support that will make high-resolution gaming look amazing and smooth.

So for me, most of the ‘enhancements’ aren’t enough of an incentive to dump my iPad 2. Only the display and graphics performance would be, if I was a gamer but I’m not.

If you own an original iPad or nothing at all, you have to decide if any or all of the 4 main differences are worth the $100 bump.

Note: The iPad 2 is now only available with 16GB, so if you plan on storing a lot of music, photos and videos, you should either step up to the New iPads (16, 32 or 64GB) or step down to a refurbished iPad 2 (hidden deep within Apple’s website http://goo.gl/fysWV ).

I don’t normally recommend refurbished electronics (I refer to them as ‘pre-broken’) but since the iPad is a solid state device with no meaningful moving parts, I’m comfortable making this suggestion.

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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on March 9, 2012

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