Well, iPad2 owners are bound to be a tad disappointed that the “New iPad” (as Apple calls it) is no slimmer and actually a bit heavier than the previous model. Without any true stylistic changes, that sci-fi dream of a super-slender, light-as-air pane of computerized glass seems even further away. But, it’s not like the thing was a cinderblock to begin with, and the new iPad still a remains a more beautiful object than any other tablet. Design-wise, it’s a draw.
The brilliant, unequaled user experience of the iPad is fundamentally unchanged. The new OS is an upgrade, not a revolution. Then again, no other platform – Windows or otherwise – even comes close to matching the iPad’s elegance and functionality. Another draw.
Where the New iPad truly outshines the previous models is its “Retina” screen. Without getting into specifics, the new display is just short of HD, meaning that it could become the primary source of video entertainment (film, television, etc.) for its owners. Much like how iPod and iPhone made owning a stereo less attractive, the New iPad – and the ones that will follow it – may make owning a television a secondary concern (really, who needs that big rectangle on their wall when they could have similar video quality on their table or lap?). TV watching is already well on its way to being a private experience, and displays like this could close the deal. Even if you like the big screen, the new model can stream HD content directly to your TV.
There’s also a seriously sweet camera on the back, much more memory, a far faster processer, vastly improved wifi and mobile internet capabilities, photo apps to accommodate the improved resolution, and a chorus of somewhat less-than-vital bells and whistles. But does all that make the upgrade worth $499?
Look, if you already have an iPad or iPad2, what you’ll really be missing out on is speed and video resolution. Owners know that the video content is pretty darn good on the iPad and the speed’s nothing to complain about either. If you’re not ready to give up your TV or you're just not a huge video consumer, then there’s really no reason to invest.
Indeed, a friendly expert in electronic fun, Gizmodo's Brent Rose (who you might remember from this crime against humanity), made the whole issue pretty clear for us: "This isn't Gizmodo's official word (we haven't done a full review yet) but here's my bet: If you own an iPad, it might be worth upgrading if you're a serious gamer. If you're a casual user, it's probably not worth it. If you own an iPad 2 it's almost definitely not worth it."
Meanwhile, Paul Miller at The Verge, another expert, is slightly more upbeat: "I think the new iPad is incredible for people who want to do a lot of reading on the iPad or play with photographs or iMovie on that crazy new screen. Anyone else should be fine with an iPad 2. And if you've managed to avoid the iPad craze so far, I commend your strength of character, but you're missing out."
Finally, Terrence O'Brien, from the esteemed Engadget, positively gushes, "If you want your apps to look as good as your tablet, the retina display makes the new iPad a no-brainer (especially if you've already drank the Apple Kool-Aid.)" But even he admits, "It is a bit crazy to buy a new iPad if you already own an iPad 2."
The experts agree, it's all about resolution. So ask yourself: Are you a "serious" gamer? Are desktop photo or video editing and reading books on paper or the Kindle harming your mental health? Do you need Angry Birds to look razor sharp? No? Then take that $499, spend most of it on shoes or spring clothes (or rent) and save a lil’ bit for the fourth of fifth iteration of our favorite consumer electronics product.
That said, if you don’t already have an iPad, spend the extra $100 to get the new one and then let us play with it. Pwwweeeeese?
Photo: via Apple.