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Apple iPad: The retina display redefines the tablet

Melissa J. Perenson | March 19, 2012
The 2012 refresh of the Apple iPad wows, but not for the reasons so often associated with Apple products.

On other metrics, including two other GLBenchmark tests and our Web-page-load and Sunspider tests, the iPad matched the iPad 2's performance.

[See "New iPad vs. Android Tablets: Is It Game Over?" for more in-depth analysis of how the new iPad stacks up to the top Android tablets.]

Ultimately, how good the iPad looks and performs will depend largely on the content you're viewing. Most things you view on the new iPad will look better than they do on the iPad 2. Books, magazines, apps, and Web pages all have the potential to look great, like nothing you've seen before, and games will be able to advance in graphical complexity beyond what we have today. It will take time, however, for developers to catch up and make that wholesale shift. Until then, be prepared: Your results will vary dramatically, ranging from disappointing to brilliant.

While this iPad lacks Siri support--an odd omission, given that last fall's iPhone 4S introduced Siri--it does add integrated voice recognition. I really liked using the built-in speech recognition tool, powered by Nuance. That said, I didn't like that I needed to be connected online, since, like Siri on the iPhone 4S, it makes calls back to the Apple servers to provide the service. But it was very accurate and responsive when I tested it. I also wish that the device had a way to perma-hold the microphone button on the keyboard (I didn't stumble across it, if one exists) so that I can dictate more than just a quick sentence here and there. I suppose, however, if that were the intent of the voice feature, I'd be using a dedicated app for that.

The Big iPad Stumble

For all of my raving about the display, I have to note that Apple broke with tradition and didn't make this iPad thinner and lighter than its predecessor. The new iPad is slightly thicker (0.37 inch) than the iPad 2 (0.34 inch), the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (0.34 inch), and the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime (0.33 inch). The Toshiba Excite 10 LE, which currently holds the crown as the slimmest tablet available, measures just 0.3 inch.

While I understand that the increased girth is to accommodate the new iPad's bigger battery, its 4G radio (on those models), and the Retina display, I'm more concerned about the iPad's weight. I surveyed more than a dozen editors in our offices, and all immediately noticed a difference between the new iPad and its competitors, including the iPad 2 and the lightest of the 10-inch-class Androids, the 1.12-pound Toshiba Excite 10 LE, plus the sleek 1.29-pound Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime.

 

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