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First review: The new Apple iPad for 2012

By Valens Quinn | 12:00 pm 15/03/2012

Apple’s new iPad may not be the most revolutionary change the company has produced, but it’s certainly an evolutionary update that will please anyone buying a tablet.

Features

The latest refresh of Apple’s famed iPad line, “The new iPad” (as Apple is calling it) leaves most of what people love, while offering some much needed updates.

First up is the first thing that potential customers see: the screen.

Up to this point, all iPad screens have been 9.7 inch 1024 x 768 panels, but in the new iPad, Apple has quadrupled the pixels, increasing the clarity of the display dramatically. Here in the new iPad, you’ll find a 2048 x 1536 “Retina” screen, which with greater than 3.1 million pixels provides higher resolution than the two million-ish pixels offered by Full HD (1920 x 1080) televisions.

iPad 2 on the left, new iPad on the right: the difference under a microscope is very noticeable.

For the iPad, twice the horizontal and twice the vertical resolution means up to four times the pixels of the iPad 2 and many competitors. While the numbers may be confusing, all you really need to know is that there is a lot more visible detail on display, which has great benefits for ebooks and digital magazines. On-screen text is pin-sharp, even on web pages where you would normally need to zoom in to make the text legible.

Then there are the innards, with Apple moving from the dual-core A5 in the iPad 2 to the newer A5X, a processor featuring a dual-core CPU and quad-core GPU.

Wireless connectivity has been upgraded too, with WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n brought over from the previous generation, but Bluetooth moved to the new high-speed 4.0 standard. The top-tier iPad has also shifted from a 3G to a 4G modem, although in Australia, only dual-channel 3G (DC-HSDPA) is currently supported.

The much-criticised 720p rear camera that appears in the iPad 2 has been updated to a 5 megapixel camera with support for Full HD 1080p video capture. The front camera is the same VGA FaceTime camera from the previous model. The optics for the rear camera have been improved too, with an f/2.4 lens and a new infrared filter for more accurate colours.

New camera for the new iPad on the right, featuring a wider aperture than the camera on the iPad 2 (left).

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Price (RRP)

$539 (starting from) to $899

Pros & Cons

Product Pros

Astoundingly clear screen; Dual-channel 3G is faster than you realise; Compatible with quite a few of the iPad 2 cases; Much improved camera

Product Cons

No LED flash for the rear camera; FaceTime front camera is still VGA; Can get a little warm

Ratings

Overall

Features

Value for money

Performance

Design

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