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

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.

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TOPICS: iPad, Mobility
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(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

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104 comments
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  • Got mine too.

    I agree with everything you have said. The screen is breathtaking. Now I just hope all the app devs get onboard asap.
    Grammarphile72
    • Why?

      The screen size hasn't got bigger. Are you saying the devs should make things smaller? Wouldn't that be harder to touch?

      Or do you mean the buttons? Is that it. You want to look at hi res buttons that you obscure with your finger to touch.

      How awesome.
      Bozzer
      • ?

        Bozzer: Are you new to computers? Adorable.
        phronk
      • We'll cut you some slack because you use Windows which

        is slave to pixel resolution, meaning you've probably had to squint at microscopic text on your laptop. However, iOS is resolution independent, which means all screen elements stay the same size; they just look crisper. If you want a real-world example, print out a web page on a 120 dpi dot matrix printer, then print the same page out on a 300 DPI laser printer.
        baggins_z
      • @baggins That's only partially true...

        If the graphics are vector graphics, then the upscale would not present any noticeable pixelation, but on standard graphics (i.e. images and icons based on raster images), there will not be a "crisper" image where a larger image size is not available. The same goes for graphics and games, where a scaling effect and line doubling may occur, but this will not result in a "crisper" display.

        The TV shows where they state "enhance this image" doesn't happen in real life, and neither in Apple's magical world. If the additional image data to fill in the resolution isn't available, you can't just magically make programmatic assumptions and fill it in.

        HOWEVER, saying all that, I'm sure Apple has taken this into consideration, and game manufacturers, etc., so there will likely be rapid development in the area of making use of the full potential of the screen.

        Take your example: Scale an image up from its native 120DPI to 300DPI and print it out. You are not going to get a better proof doing that.
        thoiness
      • That's Why They Doubled Vertical and Horizontal

        @thoiness
        They doubled the vertical and horizontal resolution so that they could map lower resolution images to a higher resolution screen and there would not have to be any more interpolation than before. Each pixel on the old screen exactly matches four pixels on the new screen. If they had changed the resolution to something in between (which would normally make more sense, since the new resolution is significant overkill for the size screen it is), then the only way to scale old apps would have used interpolated graphics, and they would appear less crisp and/or have odd added pixels making some lines slightly wider than they ought to be.

        As it is, old apps won't look any better on the new screen than they did on the old one. You will probably only see differences with graphics/photo and HD video apps for a while. Other apps won't look any better until new versions of the interface are made, and even then, it won't make any significant difference for most apps that are not graphics or HD video related. In fact, it will be in the best interests of many app makers not to make any changes until lower resolution iPads start to really become obsolete.

        The old resolution for iPads was only just adequate. The new resolution, since it's overkill, makes it so that there's no reason to ever have to update the resolution again (barring a screen size change).
        CFWhitman
      • @CFWhitman Yeah...

        That's what I was saying... But as is the case with line doubling (in this case, by a factor of 4), I think "jaggies" will become more apparent for a while until the developers rise to the new standard.

        I agree that the resolution is likely overkill on this size of a screen, but none-the-less impressive they were able to pull it off.
        thoiness
      • @thoiness

        text is vector in iOS, so the benefit there is immediate, which is the thing that immediately struck the author. Bitmaps not enlarged to take advantage of the higher resolution yet will look no different than they do now. All iOS bitmap elements have been updated with iOS 5.1, so the overall interface (in addition to the text) will look as crisp as a laser printed page. And, no, you won't see any jaggies on "legacy" bitmaps precisely because of the pixel doubling. There will be no degradation in image quality from iPad 2 to iPad 3.
        baggins_z
      • @baggins Line doubling does not fix...

        jaggies on legacy images on rounded corners, it proliferates the issue, unless the pixels are beyond that of the human eye's ability at perception (in which case, the whole PPI upgrade would be irrelevant to discussion).
        thoiness
      • It goes to show...

        How fanboys can't face facts. They downvote harmless, but true statements while upvoting anything, even if completely incorrect that adds puff to their product. (as if there could never be any issues with any technology as long as it has the right logo on it :P )

        I myself think the iPad 3 is innovative in its screen technology, and brings some great things to the table we have yet to see in the mobile industry, but the facts I have outlined are no less true in spite of that. Hell, another -$100, and I'll buy an iPad 2 myself.

        And before we get all excited about that, I get downvoted in the Android blogs all the time as well when I make truthful observations. Same happens in Windows, and everywhere else. It's more of a testament to the undying loyalty to the logo, where the technology and facts become insignificant, and almost beside the point in the argument.
        thoiness
      • @thoiness

        You are simply wrong on this. Bitmaps are the physical dimensions on the iPad 3 as they are on the iPad 2; you will not see any image degradation. To test it for yourself, open a picture in photoshop at 100 dpi. Resample it to 300 dpi. Now view it at PRINT size, not pixel size. You will NOT see ANY difference in the image quality.

        If you want even more proof, look at non-retina app on an iPhone 3GS, and then on an iPhone 4 or 4S. Again, you will NOT see any degradation in image quality.
        baggins_z
      • @baggins It is impossible

        When dealing with a higher PPI screen (even with upscaling) for there not to be a jaggie effect, unless assumption is being made through the program. If I have a 10 pixel, rasterized, rounded corner over a 50 pixel area, and I double that without feathering the corners or using some other kind of trickery, to 100 pixel area over the same visible area, the rigidity of the edges will become apparent in respect to native resolution images (assuming my eyes can differentiate), because I can now visibly see the 4 pixels in the space where the 2 were used in contrast to the native image where a 20 pixel rasterized corner would be used to take its place.

        Assuming I can differentiate the newer resolution, then the newer image will look better. With games and legacy applications that took advantage of the old resolutions, they will appear jagged compared to anything created natively (unless beyond human perception).

        It may not look "worse" than the previous version, but it will be far more noticeable on a sharper screen, unless the glass or the OS incorporates some sort of blurring effect.

        So, if I were not taking advantage of the screens capabilities at its native resolution, would you state that images of poorer resolution than the capability of the screen become "sharper," or "stretched?" If it were the case that they became sharper, what would be the point of ever implementing higher resolution development? (XBox would be the pinnacle, we could just up-convert everything with higher resolutions and never have to worry about AA and smoothing techniques to fix jaggies when ported to the PC).

        An 800x600 image does not look better stretched across a 1024x768 screen, regardless of line doubling. (in fact, due to the increased sharpness of the screen, I'd argue it looks worse than on a screen with native resolution to that image). And yes, it does get doubled when stretched, as interlacing would be apparent if it didn't.

        Now, if you're arguing that all games and apps use vector based images (which is not the case), then you'd have a point.

        Can you tell the difference on Windows between an icon on Windows from the 16 bit days that has been doubled, vs a 32 bit one from today occupying the same space? Does the doubled version still appear smooth? Granted, I'm positive that Apple took care of that problem before releasing the iPad 3.

        Run an emulator on an old video game, do the jaggies stand out more, or less with line doubling?

        Edit: Also, if the iPad was using some algorithmic progressive scan feature to fix all of its applications, wouldn't this create significant processing overhead?
        thoiness
      • it won't degrade...

        think about this.

        they doubled the X and doubled the Y int he same screen size. This means each pixel is 25% of the size of the old pixels.

        If your using an old image made for the 1024x768 screen, it'll use 4 pixels stuck together instead of single pixels. People say that will make it look more jagged because its using more pixels... but they aren't taking into account that 4 pixels on the new screen are physically the same size as 1 pixel on the old screen, meaning it would physically look identical to the old screen.
        doh123
    • So it's all about the screen now, that's BS

      It wasn't about the screen with the iPad 2 because it's resolution (1024x768) was lower than other Android tablets that had better screens. No, back then it was about the "eco-system." The Transformer Prime with it's 1280x800 screen is still a better tablet than the new iPad.

      Hi res screen alone doesn't the best tablet make. Besides, how bright is the new screen on the new iPad? Same 350 nits as the iPad2? Well, the Transformer Prime screen is 600 nits. You can easily use it outside and still the brightest screen on any tablet. Being able to easily use it outside would be more important to me than a hi res screen which is overkill.
      mrxxxman
  • It has a home button!

    Oh, look, it has a home button!

    Remember all of the hubbub of supposedly not having one? Because of a SINGLE screenshot that was enormously zoomed in and heavily cropped?

    ZDNet: Not giving you good tech news. Just lots of entertainment as we fumble around the craziest rumors on the internet.
    CobraA1
  • Confirmation

    Talking about confirming everything Apple fanboys are about .. wonderful the iPad 3 (err new iPad) LOOKS amazing. Do Apple people sit around and stare at their machines all day? How about figuring out functionality wise how did the increased resolution improve your usage?

    "Tablet manufacturers, are you paying attention? Anything less than a retina display is simply sub-par now"

    This is the problem with Apple fans, it's borderline pompeous. Do you understand it's a huge market and there are many considerations on what a consumer purchases? If people felt like this about cars, everyone would drive a luxury car and 1080p 240hz TV's wouldn't sell less than $250 720p 60hz sets?!?

    Perhaps now that Apple has the perfect display they can work on some of the glaring things still missing on the iPad.
    MobileAdmin
    • If those were cars..

      What do you think? If you had the choice to purchase and safe, high performance and luxury car at the same price that an junk car is offered, which one would you chose?

      The junk car, right ;-)
      danbi
      • Low end doesn't = junk

        My point is the difference between the low end tablet market (RIM, Amazon) and Apple is a big gap for some consumers. What amazes me is in a poor economy Apple is selling at the clip they do, so either the economy is not as bad as thought or a lot of people bury themselves in debt for their Apple "fix".
        MobileAdmin
      • Well, if you are a Fanboy of MS or Android, you will buy that I guess

        Even if it is junk, you will buy an MS or Android tablet (LOL). However, it turns out that there are more Apple Fans than MS and Android Fans put together. It also turns out most are "closet" Apple Fans secretly lusting after Apple products.
        GoForTheBest
      • Newsflash.

        They are not cars.

        So your point is worthless.
        Bozzer