So here’s what it looks like: an iPad 2 with a facelift.
Lest that sound like a small deal, let me clarify — a major facelift. Imagine Joan Rivers finally attained complete botox nirvana, her face a seamless high-definition sheen. Now imagine Joan Rivers as an iPad. You’re getting close.
After playing with the new iPad at the Apple launch event Wednesday, I am certain of three things. First, I am going to get heartily sick of calling this thing “the new iPad.” Secondly, the new retina display looks absolutely gorgeous in any app you care to name. And thirdly, not a single other thing about the device’s outward appearance has changed.
Home button? Check. Single speaker on the back? Check. Headphone port, volume and screen lock buttons in exactly the same place? Check.
Counting the iPhone 4S and Apple TV, this is the third Apple product launched under the tenure of Tim Cook that has not physically changed one bit. Either Apple’s legendary industrial designers are getting paid a whole lot to sit around doing nothing, or they are working on some seriously cool changes for next year’s model (the new new iPad?)
No doubt when Apple actually lets us compare the devices side by side — ie. when we buy one on launch day — we’ll really notice the 0.6 millimeters of extra thickness and 0.11 lb of extra weight. The new tablet did feel slightly heftier in my hands than I’m used to, which is a shame. The iPad 2 is already just a tad too heavy to hold in one hand for long periods of time.
As for the 4G speeds and the battery life, which Apple says is still in the 9-10 hour range: these claims will also require more extensive testing than Apple would allow in its hands-on area. We’re looking forward to playing battery-hogging games for 10 hours at a time to properly test it out.
All I Wanna Do Is Read
But what I can confirm is how incredibly gorgeous that resolution looks. You can’t tear your eyes away from it. Photos and videos are far more life-like. Games feel closer to reality, too. And books? With a retina display, books seem more attractive on the iPad than in any other format. And I’m not just comparing them to the Kindle, the Nook or the iPad 2; my frame of reference includes physical books, too.
I’ve built up a pretty extensive library of iBooks, and I’ve been enjoying blasting through them on the iPad 2. But after a while — say, an hour — the lower-resolution text starts to have an effect. I wouldn’t say my eyes get strained, exactly; it’s more of a restlessness, a desire to look at something else, that doesn’t happen with physical books.
I don’t have that problem with iBooks on the retina display of the iPhone 4S. But who wants to read a whole book on an iPhone? The iPad’s form factor is where it’s at, as far as we bookworms are concerned. Now I can get truly lost in a good ebook.
Sorry, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, you are going to have to up your game. The Kindle’s old e-ink screen isn’t nearly as readable as this, even in direct sunlight (and the Kindle Fire? Fuggeddaboutit.)
Obviously, this is all good news for the nascent iPad magazine industry. Not to mention the still-rumored category of shopping catalogs, which seems a no-brainer on the new iPad.
In short, reading just got real again.
What else would you like to know about the new iPad? What’s the first thing you’ll try when you get your hands on one? Let us know in the comments.
Photos on the New iPad
Images show up sharp and clear on the iPad's new Retina Display.