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Monday, May 28, 2012

iPad 3 reviewed

The iPad 3 comes with an amazing 2048 X 1546 pixel Retina Display. 

I know I shouldn’t start off with a cliché, but you really do get what you pay for. During my time on this planet as an American consumer, I have found this proverb to be especially true in two areas: toilet paper and electronics.

And fortunately for you, I am not reviewing Charmin.

I was, however, finally able to grab hold of the iPad 3; and in short, it doesn’t disappoint.

The latest version of the iPad continues Steve Jobs’ legacy of creating very user-friendly products in an extremely simplified package with the best components on the market. And to top it off, the Verizon version of the iPad — which I tested — had access to the company’s blazing-fast 4G service, which makes the iPad a complete package.

At first glance, the iPad doesn’t look much different from previous versions. It still comes with a single button on the bottom, a headphone jack and power switch on top and volume buttons on the side, but Apple was able to squeeze all of this into a remarkably thin design. 

Measuring less than .37 inches in thickness and just slightly thicker than the previous iPad, the iPad 3 is one of the thinnest tablets I’ve ever used. I am amazed at how they are able to fit all of that technology into such a small package — a package that gets smaller with each generation. My only complaint about the design is that, because it is so thin, it can be difficult at times to plug your cable into the dock connector. The connector is not flush with the side of the iPad as it was in the original version. The connector is at a small angle, which means that part of your cable is actually sticking out slightly when it is fully plugged into the port. It takes some getting used to.
The iPad is about .37 inches thick.

Under the hood, this puppy is loaded. The statistics on the processor are somewhat tame, with a 1 GHz dual-core processor, but it’s the supporting cast that makes this star shine. The iPad 3 is loaded with a quad-core graphics processor, which allows for lightning-fast draw times and super smooth graphics on the new Retina display.

Speaking of the display, you just can’t get a more defined picture than with what the iPad can give. The Retina display’s 2048 X 1546 pixel depth is second to none and gives you an extreme amount of detail – even when you are holding the iPad very close to your face. There is also 1 GB of RAM and built-in storage of 16GB, 32GB or 64GB. Couple that with Apple's cloud-based storage and you have plenty of storage options available. In addition to the processor and storage, the iPad also comes with the other standard options, such as built-in Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, accelerometer, gyroscope and front- and rear-facing cameras (5 and .3 megapixels, respectively). All that, and it weighs in at a little over 23 ounces.

There are very few things the iPad lacks, but Apple’s insistence on keeping things simple means there are a few bells and whistles you won’t find on an iPad that you do find on Android-based devices. For example, there is no HDMI output to connect your tablet to a large screen HDTV. You have to buy a rather expensive video cable from Apple and use the dock connector to get the same results. There also is no microSD slot for expanded storage.

Another missing feature that some people have complained about is a USB port, which could connect to your computer. However, because it uses the basic same cable as Apple’s iPod and iPhone, I already had a ton of those cables lying around, so I don’t really miss a USB port.

Despite all of these impressive features, what might be my favorite piece of hardware is also the biggest: the battery. Routinely, you can get 9-10 hours of life out of your iPad on a full charge. This is amazing. I rarely found myself needing to charge my iPad, but when it would start to run around 35-40 percent, I would just plug it into my computer for a few hours, and it was back up to 100 percent.

One of the biggest advantages Apple has had and continues to have over Android and Blackberry is software. Apple’s App Store has the largest selection of applications available for tablets and continues to add more constantly. 

There are myriad apps available for iOS 5.1, which comes pre-loaded on the iPad. Many of those apps are free, but of the paid apps, a boatload of those are priced at $.99 or $1.99. Some exclusive titles such as GarageBand make it hard for competitors’ to match the iPad’s fun-factor. I found myself playing with GarageBand for hours and was able to make my own short song in about 45 minutes.

And despite the fact that there are so many apps available from the App Store, one of the things I like about the iPad was the absence of apps when you first start it up. Many Android-based phones come pre-loaded with tons of unnecessary apps that are put there by the phone manufacturer, service provider or from Google itself. The iPad, however, comes with about a dozen or so basic apps that you need to get started — a Web browser, email, iTunes

Overall impressions
Although the newest iPad looks very similar to previous incarnations of the popular device, it’s what’s inside that counts. And, Apple has packed a lot inside this little machine.

The attention to detail and care that was taken by Apple to make one of the best tablets on the market is very clear. Apple has gone above and beyond to create the best tablet they could make, and they continue to outdo themselves with every new generation released.

You might pay a little more for the iPad than what you would for a Kindle Fire, but what you get with the iPad 3 more than makes up for the difference in price.