Why the new iPad is the King of the Mountain

March 26, 2012 | Matt Edmunds
Why the new iPad is the King of the Mountain

Apple recently released the new iPad, dubbed solely just…the new iPad. It's a classic example of Apple's current tone, where they feel they don't need to compete in the market that they created: so much so that the version number of the iPad doesn't really matter. And yet, it's still the flagship product in the marketplace and nothing else comes close. 

Looking at the outside, the difference between the iPad 2 and the newest edition is fairly indistinguishable. They have the same overall styling, and nothing from a distance would give away the tricks that set them apart.

The inside is what makes the new iPad a great leap forward.

Where the new iPad differentiates itself is not in the newer faster processor or the quad-core graphics (though those are nice). It's the screen that the quad-core graphics power that's the game-changer. The resolution on the new iPad is double its previous generation's, in the same physical size, meaning 2 times more information being displayed in the same space. More specifically, a 2048x1536 pixel resolution at 264 pixels per inch. The term used to describe this concept is 'retina'. Apple helped coin it with the iPhone 4 to describe a display that at a normal viewing distance is so high resolution as to make the pixels that make up the screen's image indistinguishable to the human eye.

It's the technical way of saying, it comes close to, and in some cases achieves the sense that you're not looking at a screen anymore, but at a tangible object.

This is especially apparent with text and video that jumps off the screen. It really is amazing, and it really will redefine the category.

All other manufacturers will have to scramble to come close to displaying content to the clarity and fine detail that Apple now offers in thier tablet. When I first saw the concept on the iPhone 4, it was impressive, however it is nothing short of magical when seeing it in a larger size. Last week I was considering getting a Kindle primarily because my original iPad just isn't up to that task. The new iPad all but squashes that thought for the time being.  From a good 8-10 inches away its hard to tell it’s a screen and not the page of a book, a very magical book.

Applications will need to be updated to take full advantage, but what’s most impressive is that those that aren't updated yet still work and scale phenomenally well. It will take some time for everyone to catch up, and for the display to really shine. Watching the new premiere of ABC's "Missing" starring Ashley Judd, it was immediately clear how good even streaming video can look on the device. ABC pulled out all the stops to take advantage of the display. High definition content has never looked this good on a tablet.  If Hulu Plus and Netflix can produce similar results you might never want to watch TV on your TV again.

With its 5MP camera, and the ability to shoot impressive 1080p video it becomes a video camera and editing package with the largest viewfinder on the market. All kidding aside, for those that want to carry around one device, or creatively shoot limited budget independent films, the new iPad is a worthy contender.

Aside from all the specs, it is an impressive device. As time goes on in the next couple of months I think that will be even more evident as app developers catch up and provide a truly impressive experience that is capable of displaying content in such detail.

I'd be hard pressed to believe that Apple or anyone else for that matter can achieve another doubling of pixel density in the next several years, leading one to believe that this will be the format for some time. I'm sure android devices will come out touting similar claims, but for the time being this is the king of the mountain.

Keep in mind…

When selling 3 million of anything in just under 4 days, you're bound to have a few issues. It's come to light that under heavy sustained load, like playing a graphics intense game for 3-4 hours straight, the device gets warm. I can attest to that but certainly, at least not in my experience, it’s not uncomfortable, or hot. The everyday tasks one performs are fast, fluid and without any sense of struggle. The heat comes from the fact that the new iPad needs a larger battery to power it and still get 10 hours of use out of the device. This also accounts for the slightly denser feel and slight increase in thickness. When the battery is 70% larger, and the CPU several times larger and more powerful I at least have healthy expectations that such things can not come without a few tradeoffs. When placed in a case, as is the habit for most users, you won't even notice.

Images courtesy of Apple, Inc.

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