As expected, Apple presented its third-generation iPad at a press event just a few hours ago (2:00 am, Manila time). The new iPad has, as many rumors predicted, a Retina display, a new processor, a higher-resolution camera capable of shooting 1080p video, voice dictation, and a 4G wireless chip. The biggest surprise was, actually, the name: not iPad 3, not iPad 2S, not iPad HD. Just “iPad.”
It looks like Apple is applying its standard hardware naming convention to the iPad, eschewing the version numbers it uses for the iPhone. As with its other hardware products (e.e.g, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac), we’ll just be referring to years (e.g., mid-2011 MacBook Air) to distinguish one version from another (“Which iPad do you have? The early-2011 model?”). That probably signals a regular once-a-year refresh of the tech specs.
Tech specs: iPad 3 vs iPad 2
Here’s a rundown of the main new features:
Retina display The new iPad has four times as many pixels as the iPad 2 (2048 by 1536, vs. 1024 by 768 on the iPad 2), beating even 1080p HDTVs in number of pixels (1920 by 1080). Those who’ve made the jump from an iPhone 3GS to an iPhone 4 or 4S will know how much more crisp text will be and how much better photos and videos will look on a Retina display. This is definitely the new version’s biggest draw.
A5X dual-core processor Apple has bumped up the processor specs as well, from the dual-core A5 in the iPad 2 to the dual-core A5x with quad-core graphics to drive the new Retina display. Amazingly, battery life remains at 10 hours, which means whole-day computing.
5-MP iSight camera The iPad 2′s 1-MP camera is useful, but not that much useful. The new camera on the new iPad has a 5-megapixel resolution, like the iPhone 4S, and now has automatic exposure and auto-focus, automatic face detection, automatic exposure lock, and automatic focus lock. The new chip also takes care of image stabilization, as well as shooting 1080p video.
4G wireless Just like the iPhone4S, the iPad has built-in radios for GSM and CDMA networks, and unlike the iPhone 4S, the new iPad features a 4G LTE chip, capable of up a blazing 73 Mbps download speed (under the most ideal of conditions, of course). And the new iPad now has the Personal Hotspot feature of the iPhone as well.
Smart has already started rolling out its LTE network, and reportedly has more than 30 LTE cell sites in Metro Manila, with more to follow. That should give it a leg up over Globe which only recently announced its LTE rollout.
Voice dictation Siri isn’t on board, but the system-wide voice dictation feature that debuted on the iPhone 4S is now available for the new iPad. Oh well, at least that’s one step closer to being able to use your iPad hands-free while driving (j/k).
Prices and availability
In keeping with previous practice, the new models with improved specs will be sold at the same price points as the previous generation models (update: we corrected the prices in dollars):
What’s new in the lineup is a $399 16-GB iPad 2 model (we’re guessing a Php18,990 price point). If you haven’t sold off your iPad 2 yet in anticipation of the new iPad, you’ll have to settle for a lower selling price in the second-hand market. That’s good news for those looking to finally give the iPad a try with a second-hand iPad 2 unit.
If all goes the way it did last year, local Apple resellers should have the new models in stock sometime in May, with tight supplies for the first few weeks, easing up about a month later. Since it’s going to be available in Hong Kong by March 16, and in 25 more countries (Singapore probably included) a week later, gray-market units should be in before the month is over, if you’re willing to pay up to twice as much as the SRP (based on last year’s gray market prices) to be among the first owners of the new iPad.
UPDATE: Complete tech specs:
Size and Weight:
Storage: 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB
Chip: Dual-core Apple A5X custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip with quad-core graphics
Wireless and Cellular:
Cameras, Photos, and Video Recording:
Battery and Power
Input and Output:
* Ambient light sensor
* Digital compass
* Assisted GPS and Cellular (for Wi-Fi + 4G models)
* Frequency response: 20Hz to 20,000Hz
* Audio formats supported: HE-AAC (V1 and V2), AAC (8 to 320 Kbps), Protected AAC (from iTunes Store), MP3 (8 to 320 Kbps), MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4, Audible Enhanced Audio, AAX, and AAX+), Apple Lossless, AIFF, and WAV
* User-configurable maximum volume limit
* Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound pass-through with Apple Digital AV Adapter (sold separately)
TV and Video:
* AirPlay Mirroring to Apple TV (2nd and 3rd generation) at 720p
* AirPlay video streaming to Apple TV (3rd generation) at up to 1080p and Apple TV (2nd generation) at up to 720p
* Video mirroring and video out support: Up to 1080p with Apple Digital AV Adapter or Apple VGA Adapter (adapters sold separately)
* Video out support at 576i and 480i with Apple Composite AV Cable (cable sold separately)
* Video formats supported: H.264 video up to 1080p, 30 frames per second, High Profile level 4.1 with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; MPEG-4 video up to 2.5 Mbps, 640 by 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile with AAC-LC audio up to 160 Kbps per channel, 48kHz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov file formats; Motion JPEG (M-JPEG) up to 35 Mbps, 1280 by 720 pixels, 30 frames per second, audio in ulaw, PCM stereo audio in .avi file format
Mail Attachment Support: Viewable document types: .jpg, .tiff, .gif (images); .doc and .docx (Microsoft Word); .htm and .html (web pages); .key (Keynote); .numbers (Numbers); .pages (Pages); .pdf (Preview and Adobe Acrobat); .ppt and .pptx (Microsoft PowerPoint); .txt (text); .rtf (rich text format); .vcf (contact information); .xls and .xlsx (Microsoft Excel)
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