Hands On With The New iPad

I’ve just gotten out of a quick hands-on session with the new iPad (and yes, it’s just called the iPad), and have come away with exactly the feeling I expected to have: that I need to buy one.

The first thing you should know, and also the reason there aren’t many pictures, is that as far as weight and shape, it’s almost exactly the same as the iPad 2. They wouldn’t allow comparison shots — probably because the new iPad is a little thicker — but the dimensional differences are minor and the overall feel is near-identical.

Let me tell you why I’m going to buy the new iPad. Or rather, let me show you.

Open it in a new tab to see the pixels up close.

The top picture is the new Retina screen, the bottom picture is the original screen. This close up (about a quarter of an inch), you can see the pixels. But from a normal distance, the text is so clear and the overall visual effect is so smooth, I can’t help myself.

I would love to read books and magazines on the iPad. I’d love to work from it, do my photo editing on it. But reading text and viewing images just wasn’t ever good enough. Now it is. The sharpness is as good as you expect, the device otherwise is more or less the same. Were you hoping for a redesign? That will happen eventually. Don’t be greedy.

As for the new apps, which they demoed for me, they look great. iPhoto feels like a lot of fun to use, though professionals will of course prefer the more robust controls in something like Aperture or Lightroom. For everyone else (and perhaps me), these basic controls over exposure, color, and so on (non-destructive and fairly robust; the brushes are nice) will be more than enough.

Beyond that, what’s to tell? Objective benchmarks will appear when we have our own unit; performance of the updated apps will have to be evaluated by users of the old versions; the new apps and games will have to be actually tried (the new Epic game wasn’t available for testing and Infinity Blade wasn’t upscaling very well); 4G speeds and coverage will be progressively evaluated; dictation is worthless in a crowded hands-on room; the cameras can’t be tested properly in a dim room with little connectivity; the main fact I ascertained is that having my hands on the new iPad was a lot like having my hands on the old iPad.

But having my eyes on it? That’s another story.

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