So what’s new for the world’s premiere tablet?
The big news is that the iPad has gotten a facelift with a new screen, given you and your friends new reasons to smile by updating the rear camera, and improved performance with a new quad-core processor.
Brand new screen, same old tablet
The iPhone’s retina display got a few looks when it debuted, and the iPad is set to turn heads the same way. Apple has doubled the resolution of the iPad 2, going from a 1024 x 768 resolution to a whopping 2048 x 1536 on the same 9.7″ LED screen. The new screen can be viewed even closer without seeing pixel edges, which for pictures is a huge boon, but the biggest change will be to text, which should appear much more crisp than on the previous generation of tablet.
Currently, there are no other top rated tablets that can compete with that kind of pixel density. Apple plans to take advantage of that with updates to their tablet specific iLife and iWork apps, as well as Apple exclusive versions of popular imaging programs like Autodesk.
Smile, you’re on iPad camera
While taking pictures or movies with your top rated tablet is still going to earn you a few odd stares (and possibly even a few sneers from photography purists), it’s no longer going to be a downside when it comes to actually posting or sharing those, thanks to the new iPad’s updated camera.
The new 5-megapixel camera (a significant upgrade from the 0.7-megapixel version on the current iPad) seems to be being taken directly from the popular 4S. Not only is the lens better at capturing detail, software changes like auto-focus and electronic image stabilization make it a valid choice for your next vacation or just grabbing images as they happen. A better camera also makes it easier to take advantage of improved photo utilities native to the iPad.
Faster, stronger, better
It’s not just the visuals that got an update — the iPad is getting a new quad-core processor that not only makes multi-tasking easier, but also allows for more advanced apps. The updated processor is also fairly necessary to handle the better screen.
While other top rated tablets have included a quad-core processor, this is the first time that iPad users will be seeing its effects. Games will be getting the most obvious boost from this, but productivity app developers will be able to take advantage of it, especially as evidenced by an impressive drawing app, SketchBook Ink, showed off by Autodesk.
But wait, there’s more
The new iPad will still be keeping a lot of its older features. Despite the higher resolution and better processor, battery life is unaffected, still clocking in at an impressive 10 hours (9 hours with 4G) of use. Upgraded cellular connection compatibility means that the iPad will be able to connect to 4G LTE, with versions available for both AT&T and Verizon networks (for those without an interest in a data plan, there will also be the Wi-Fi only version). The iPad also adds voice dictation, allowing you to speak into your iPad instead of using the keyboard.
For all its upgrades, there are a few minor casualties. An increase of weight by 0.11 lbs, and a .03″ increase to thickness mean that it’s not quite as thin and light as its predecessor — however, these seem like a very small price to pay.
Currently, pricing is set to start at $499 for a 16GB model with Wi-Fi only, all the way up to $829 for a 64GB model with 4G. Also announced was a price drop to the iPad 2, now starting at $399 (you can check it out here).