First impressions of my new iPad: it's absolutely gorgeous

Summary:I landed myself a new iPad just after midnight, and after spending some time with it, here are my first impressions. Hint: I absolutely love it so far.

(Credit: Apple)

(Credit: Apple)

As I type these first words, it is 1:31 AM EST on March 16th, and I've just spent the past hour with my new iPad after landing one from Walmart (they went on sale at midnight). To my astonishment, there was a whopping total of only nine people who showed up for the early launch, so my arrival almost 2 hours early was only good for some entertaining conversation with the other 2 people who were there when I arrived. What's with all the hype about mobs of people camping out to get their hands on one? I guess that's only at Apple stores, but no matter, though; I left with what I sought to purchase: a brand new iPad.

After arriving home and fervently shredding my way to the goods, I turned on the device, walked through setup, then landed on the home screen of the new iPad. As I sat there and gazed, I could absolutely tell a difference -- or so I thought I could, at least. To make sure, I fired up my iPad 2, set the wallpapers on both to be the same, then gave them a good side-by-side comparison. The difference really is astonishing. And to think, before I landed a new iPad, all I could think was that it couldn't possibly be THAT much better than the iPad 2. I mean, the iPad 2 looks great already, right? Yes, it does, but the retina display on the new iPad makes the iPad 2's display look like pixelated yesterday-ness.

Unfortunately, no amount of screen shots or pictures will do this screen justice, but here are two pictures of the same ZDNet article on each iPad (top pic is the iPad 2; bottom pic is the new iPad):

While you can certainly see a difference between the two screen shots, you quite literally have to see the new iPad screen in-person to see its brilliance -- especially next to an iPad 2. On the new iPad, text looks like it's literally floating on the page. Everything Apple stated in their keynote is wholly accurate: text POPS like you wouldn't believe, colors are vibrant, and there's a certain smoothness to everything that makes the new iPad look like it's slippery. I know that sounds odd, but again, you just have to see it for yourself.

As for how apps look on it, I purchased a couple from Apple's latest App Store promo banner and they look equally as stunning as everything else has thus far. I need to spend more time with them, though. I must say, the way text appears to float on a page with such crystal-clear clarity is something I can't stop thinking about...

But enough about the screen; what about the iPad's form factor/hardware? Well, put simply, the new iPad looks and feels just like the iPad 2 -- with the exception of a slightly larger camera lens on the back and an ever-so-slight increase in thickness, as I took a picture of below:

Because they're so similar, the size/weight differences aren't worth a hill of beans to argue about. Another question that's been burning in people's minds is if the iPad 2 smart cover would fit the new iPad. Well, I'm happy to report that they DO fit! Also, the power cable is interchangeable between the two.

Something else that's awesome is you don't need to hook the new iPad up to computer that's running iTunes before you can get into the thing. All you need to do is just hit power, run through the initial setup of your iPad, then you're good to go! Also, mine came with a 78% charged battery, if you're wondering.

So, with my first impressions out of the way, here are some of the things I will be mindful of as I make thorough use of my new iPad over the coming days/weeks:

1 - Battery life: Supposedly 10 hours, I will certainly put that to the test.

2 - Retina display apps: I'm curious to see how long it takes app devs to recompile apps (and/or develop new ones) to really take advantage of the new display.

3 - Photos: Using an iPad as a camera has never appealed to me whatsoever, but I will certainly put the new iPad camera through its paces and compare it to the iPad 2 to see how much better it performs.

4 - Audio: From the little bit of game play I performed, the speaker sounded great; but I need to listen to music and see how it sounds.

5 - Video/Movies: This weekend, I'm going to watch a 1080p movie/TV episode to see how the new iPad handles it.

6 - 4G functionality: I opted for a WiFi-only iPad, but I'm curious to see how 4G functionality/connectivity performs for those who utilize it.

In closing, I must concede that the iPad has once again raised the bar for tablets. Tablet manufacturers, are you paying attention? Anything less than a retina display is simply sub-par now. And, honestly, I kind of hate that, because it leaves me wondering what's next. How could it get any better than the iPad 2? The new iPad, that's how. But now, I can't see it getting any better than the new iPad! Such a vicious cycle. Overall, I am THOROUGHLY impressed with everything I have personally experienced with the new iPad, and I have a feeling that trend will only continue as I delve further into its gorgeous depths. Oh, and apologies for the 100% lack of criticism. I'm simply too blown away by what I'm looking at right now!

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Topics: iPad, Mobility

About

Stephen is a freelance writer and blogger based in Charlotte, NC. His contributions to ZDNet cover topics related to security, gaming, Microsoft, Apple, and other topics of interest with a tech/SMB skew.

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