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The new iPad (3) Review

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Thinking back to the unveiling of the iPhone 4S, we were all eager to find real 4G support, but it was sadly missing. Thankfully, Apple didn’t skimp out this time around, as they’ve blessed the new iPad with 4G LTE connectivity. Well, it’s actually two variants where one is meant to play nice with AT&T, while the other being Verizon (sorry, Sprint and T-Mobile customers, you’re out of luck for now). With our AT&T variant, it’s able to deliver some delicious speeds that are indicative of any LTE driven device. Complex pages like ours load in a jiffy, and to sweeten the whole deal, the web browsing performance is still as immaculate as before. Even better, the Retina display enhances the experience as it brings text and pictures to life.

Web browsing on the new iPad - The new iPad (3) Review
Web browsing on the new iPad - The new iPad (3) Review
Web browsing on the new iPad - The new iPad (3) Review
Web browsing on the new iPad - The new iPad (3) Review


Connectivity:

As we’ve pointed out already, AT&T and Verizon are blessed with 4G LTE enabled iPads, but for the rest of the world, they’re given a model that will be compatible with the many  HSPA+ networks out there. Rounding things out, the iPad has been outfitted with the usual suspect of incremental connectivity upgrades – such as aGPS, Bluetooth 4.0, and 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi. For those picking up Verizon’s version, you’ll be glad to find mobile hotspot functionality out of the box – and it’s free too!



Finally people! We remarked about the unfriendly nature of the iPad’s camera interface, but now that iOS 5.1 is here, it seemingly corrects some of the dissatisfactions we’ve had with it. Visually, it’s still uncomplicated and clean looking, as the on-screen shutter key is now positioned at a more accessible area on the right side – whereas before, it was annoyingly placed on the bottom edge. Still, it you prefer a physical response, you can accomplish taking a snapshot by pressing on the volume up button. As for the rest, it’s identical as touching the display adjusts focus and exposure accordingly – while long pressing enables AE lock. Some might complain about the lack of manual settings, but therein lies the iPad’s beauty as staying firm with a simplistic interface.

Camera interface - The new iPad (3) Review
Camera interface - The new iPad (3) Review
Camera interface - The new iPad (3) Review

Along with the friendly new placement of the on-screen shutter key, we’re ecstatic to find the iPad bearing a much more capable camera – whereas the one on the iPad 2 distracted us with its abysmal quality. Much like the iPhone 4 and 4S, the new iPad’s 5-megapixel camera is seemingly well adept to capturing those precious moments, though, it’s still kind of awkward to whip out a tablet in public to snap a shot. Overall, it delivers some exciting results as details are robust and colors maintain neutral tones to exemplify its prowess under perfect lighting conditions. It’s also pretty decent for low-lighting shots, seeing that it properly adjusts exposure to lighten and draw out details. However, it would’ve been nice to see an LED flash along for the ride, but it’s sadly omitted this time around.

There’s no arguing that the 720p video recording quality of the iPad 2 didn’t impress us, but rather, we questioned its validity since it was far from anything deemed as “high-definition.” Perhaps, Apple has learned from its hard lesson, as they’ve been able to sooth thing outs with the new iPad’s 1080p recording. Coughing up some crisp looking visuals, it’s indeed appealing to watch, even better when it’s complemented with clear audio recording, natural looking colors, and a smooth frame rate. Well, we can’t think of many occasions when it’s necessary to shoot video with a tablet, but if you find yourself in an unusual predicament where it’s needed, the iPad  delivers the goods.


Multimedia:

So yeah, the “Photos” app of the iPad is still the same one we’re familiar with, which is a shame in a way, but that’s just the way it is. Basically, its purpose is to display photos and videos (obviously), but beyond that, there are some basic editing functions for photos – such as rotating, cropping, and auto-enhance. However, you might want to look into purchasing Apple’s iPhoto app (or some other capable app) if you plan on doing some professional grade editing work with your photos.

The Photos app - The new iPad (3) Review
The Photos app - The new iPad (3) Review
The Photos app - The new iPad (3) Review


To tell you the truth, if there’s one area that sorely needs a visual upgrade, it has to be the music player of the iPad. Simply put it, the conventional look it has going is too tiresome at this point, and pales in comparison to the eye candy found with others. Like seriously, it needs a makeover to somehow bring Apple’s tried and true Coverflow mode found with the iPhone, to the big leagues with the iPad. Overlooking that, the iPad’s single speaker is still properly dispersing audio, since it’s placed at an angle.  Emitting a decent amount of oomph with its output, there’s no evidence of crackling or strain at the loudest volume setting.

The music player is good but old - The new iPad (3) Review
The music player is good but old - The new iPad (3) Review
The music player is good but old - The new iPad (3) Review
The music player is good but old - The new iPad (3) Review


Delighting us tremendously already thanks to its unbelievable high resolution, the iPad is more than capable of producing a wonderful video watching experience. Besides the hassle of having to convert videos to have them load properly on the 4:3 aspect ratio display of the tablet, our eyes are entertained by a visual masterpiece on screen. Many thanks can be attributed to its Apple A5x SoC, it provides the raw power to smoothly play our test video with no fluff whatsoever.

The new iPad produces excellent image quality thanks to the Retina display - The new iPad (3) Review
The new iPad produces excellent image quality thanks to the Retina display - The new iPad (3) Review
The new iPad produces excellent image quality thanks to the Retina display - The new iPad (3) Review
The new iPad produces excellent image quality thanks to the Retina display - The new iPad (3) Review


Requiring the aid of an optional digital AV adapter, just like the iPad 2 before it, we’re given the added functionality of having a mirrored experience on our high-def TV. Fortunately, the interaction with the iPad is instant with no delay or lag with its response.


Software:

The new iPad (3) Review
Witnessing very few new features thus far with the iOS 5.1 experience, we can tell you that nothing has changed with some of the customary software preloaded with the iPad. Whether its iBooks, Newsstand, Google Maps, or YouTube, nothing has changed with them in terms of functionality and presentation – they’re in fact, unchanged. Well, in order to experience some freshness, you’ll need to look at some of the Apple’s lifestyle apps that consist of iMovie, iPhoto, and Garageband, which all incur a $4.99 charge from the App Store. Some will grumble over the required out of pocket cost, but they do enhance multimedia aspect of the iPad.

One key area that’s bound to see an aggressive focus in the near future is gaming. There’s no hiding the fact that it’s an increasing venture for the iPad, especially now more than ever thanks to its four graphics processing cores, but as of right now with the current crop of titles, we don’t notice much of a drastic improvement – say like Modern Combat 3. However, we can expect developers to tap into the iPad’s new processing power to really accentuate new titles down the road.

Preinstalled software - The new iPad (3) Review
Preinstalled software - The new iPad (3) Review
Preinstalled software - The new iPad (3) Review
Preinstalled software - The new iPad (3) Review


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