Everyone's had a weekend to live with the new iPad. Or not, if they didn't pre-order or snag one from the limited stock at Apple stores, Best Buys, Walmarts, and other retailers. And everyone has blogged about it. And I'm doing my best not to join the chorus of "Holy Crap - this display is amazing!" Because, honestly, the display alone is enough to make me forget about every other tablet I've used (many of which I've really liked).
- New iPad's amazing display: I was blind but now I see
- New iPad Retina Display is a game-changer
- New iPad not a must-have, but an amazing display
Obviously, from the articles above, I'm not the only one floored by the new Retina display. It's stunning and the uses in higher education, ranging from a study aid for medical students to data visualization for computer science students are easy to imagine. It's overkill at the K12 level, where the iPad 2 (and countless other Android tablets) are great mobile internet devices, but there is one aspect of the new iPad that will make a difference for students everywhere: it's easy to read for long periods of time.
Since the advent of the original Kindle, people have argued the merits of e-paper and e-ink that simulate the printed word and help avoid the eyestrain that can result from staring at a bright LCD for hours at a time. The new iPad doesn't negate the need for some smart ergonomics, the use of computer glasses (I'm wearing the precursors of the Wi-Five model as I write this), or occasional breaks, the truly incredible crispness of the screen is an undeniable asset for people (like students) who need to read a lot.
In fact, although I always carry around a Kindle Fire or Motorola Xoom with me, the new iPad is the first tablet that has ever made me reluctant to break out a computer and put the tablet aside. Looking at a regular LCD (even those on my MacBook Pro or MacBook Air) is just disappointing. I downloaded the Khan Academy app on Friday and, even though it's not optimized for the new iPad's display, side-by-side comparisons of the app on the new iPad and my son's iPad 2 made me very glad he'd inherited my previous-generation model.
$500 isn't something that everyone can cough up and it certainly isn't within reach of many public schools (at least not at scale). Even $400 for the iPad 2 just isn't going to happen for many students. The $200 Kindle Fire is far more realistic. However, this is one tool that, especially for college students enduring countless late nights of study and reading, should probably be on the short list of requested graduation gifts or targeted for those handy student loan refunds.