Too often these days, we form an opinion about a person, situation, or purchase almost immediately. Let’s face it, most of us don’t have the time to be as deliberate as we should be. Sure, for a house or a car we take our time – though the process is anything but enjoyable. For other things like electronics, we tend to default to our pocketbook. When two things look similar, with the only immediately observable difference being price, we almost always go with the cheaper option. Electronics companies know this and take advantage of it. They regularly sell people significantly subpar devices for somewhat cheaper prices. It’s a race to the bottom for these companies; how cheaply can they make a product to undercut everyone else. And it works. Most people think $$$ before quality.
That’s what makes Apple’s success so unbelievable. Apple is certainly not the industry leader on price. Yet, when it comes to the iPhone, iPod, and iPad, they rule the industry. Customers continue to line up for Apple products despite competitors offering lower cost options. This has everything to do with quality and experience.
Yes, we like our Apple products here at applevangelist.com and we don’t hide it. Why is that important for you? It means our infatuation trumps our pocketbook and lets us give you some insights on certain products before you make a decision.
So if you’re in the market for a tablet, we’ve taken the plunge for you and are happy to offer our opinion of the third generation iPad. After a solid week, both at home and at work, we feel we have a broad enough experience with Apple’s newest offering to say its the best tablet on the market at any price.
Allow us to beg just a moment. When it comes time to purchase your tablet, cover up the price tags and just use them. Spend some quality time with them in the store. Apple makes this easy. Go into an Apple store and there will be no less than 10-15 iPads there for you to fondle. You really need at least 20 minutes on any device you’re considering to make even a cursory judgement. Open apps. Browse the web. Read an ebook. Watch a movie. Notice the little things: how fast apps open, how smooth you scroll through pages, how the screen looks from different angles, how easy it is to find what your looking for. And then look in its app store. Search for something that interests you (besides Angry Birds) and see just what’s available for that particular tablet.
If you do those things – and aren’t a fanboy of one operating system or another – you most likely don’t need to read the rest of this column. You’ve made your decision and chances are it’s an iPad.
There’s a chance, however, when the price tag blinders are removed, your discerning side will pass out. After all, in some cases, there’s a $300 difference in price between an iPad and competing tablets. Don’t let that influence your decision just yet. We’ve spent quality time with the new iPad and are ready to tell you why it’s worth the investment.
YOU WON’T BELIEVE YOUR EYES
The term Retina Display seems like nothing more than a typical Apple marketing gimmick…if you’ve never seen one. This display is really something you need to see. As I type this entry on the new iPad, the keyboard in front of me looks photorealistic. In the next couple of years, when apple implements their technology for environments to change with the position of your head, it will make the experience even more life like. Text and pictures look like glowing print. Even placing the device close to your face, you can’t tell that it’s a digital representation. We’ve placed some images in this post to help demonstrate this; the only problem being that you’re reading this on a device that can’t reproduce the resolution of the new iPad.
For those who favor ereaders to backlit screens, we can say without a doubt that the crispness of text on the new retina display results in significantly reduced eye strain. As you can see from the close up shots, pixel density makes a massive difference in readability. There are already studies being conducted to determine just how significant pixel density is on eye strain.
For anyone who uses photos in any way, the newest iPad has taken a huge leap forward in how those photos are displayed and edited. The resolution and color saturation on the new display present the most realistic representations of images on any mobile device (in reality, on an type of display, mobile or otherwise). Colors are more accurate and every detail of an image is observable. Unless you’re taking photos at enormous megapixel counts, you’ll be able to zoom to a level where each and every detail is visible. Pair that with the power of the new Apple processor and photo editing by touch is a very practical endeavor.
Gaming is enhanced as well. This screen is capable of presenting images more dense than on any full fledged gaming console. That’s not to say games on the iPad will be as robust as those on console systems. However, the gap between what is possible on the iPad and that of, say, an Xbox 360, is decreasing. If you’re not a hardcore “gamer”, you will find the quality, quantity, and experience of games on the new iPad to far exceed any expectations you might have.
FASTER THAN A SPEEDING BULLET
With the advent of the third generation iPad, Apple has finally introduced 4G LTE cellular capabilities. Many phones and a few tablets have had this for the last year. 4G LTE is a significantly faster cellular data service; reaching speeds up to 10-20 times faster than 3G in real world tests. In our own testing, we’ve had the ability to test 3G and LTE iPads side by side. Though results will very depending on your location, we have frequently seen download speeds up to 15-20 megabits per second on LTE in the same spot where we were only managing 1-2mbs on 3G.
This is a double edged sword, however. With data speeds this high, it’s much easier to watch YouTube videos, stream music, download apps, and play online games. 3G speeds in the past often stopped these activities short. Previously when we attempted to load a YouTube video, the slow buffering would often prompt us to find a wifi hotspot or simply wait to watch the video. Now, the video loads with ease and we’re well on our way to being entertained by a piano playing cat. But video eats up one’s data allotment. And those have not changed. In a single week of use, we have blown through half of our months data allotment. Part of this was due to testing just how fast the new iPad is. But several times we have caught ourselves watching a YouTube video on LTE when we normally would have switched over to wifi. Technically speaking, if our browsing habits remain the same (in regard to wifi and cellular usage) we shouldn’t exceed our limit. With the convenience of these speeds, however, it may take more discipline to do so.
A LITTLE HARD WORK NEVER KILLED ANYONE
When the original iPad was released in 2010, we here at ApplEvangelist went all in. Despite some limitations in functionality, we abandoned our laptops and worked solely on a desktop and the iPad. It was slow going at first. Word processing has always been available on the iPad, but any other means of content creation has been limited by software availability and hardware constraints.
Fast forward two years and there are now more than 200,000 apps specifically designed for iPad. That’s, more than likely, about 170,000 more than any other tablet on the market. And they’re no longer limited to document creation. Today on the App Store you’ll find apps for painting, movie editing, photo editing, graphic design, video conferencing, spreadsheet creation complete with 3D charts and graphs, presentation software with professional grade transitions, song writing, business analytics, stock trading, banking, point of sale, and much more. Photo, video, and other visual arts are enhanced even further on the newest iteration of iPad thanks to increased resolution and graphics processing power. We’ve included screen shots below of different productivity applications for the iPad.
There’s a good chance, whatever your field, that an iPad app exists to make your on the go work life more productive. We may never purchase a laptop again unless it’s to replace a desktop. Our iPads are capable of handling 95% of what we need to do for work. In many ways they make many of these activities more intuitive and natural.
AND ALL THAT JAZZ
Nothing has changed in regard to the iPad’s advantage in all of the overlooked categories.
Battery life remains stellar. 10 hours or better of constant use. No other tablet or laptop on the market can boast these numbers. Whether you’re playing games, watching movies, or getting work done, you can rest assured you’ll have enough charge to get you through.
Most LTE equipped tablets get significantly less battery longevity. Apple has made it a reality by downsizing internal components to make room for a significantly larger battery. It insures a long battery life but there is a trade off. This iPad takes at least 50% longer to reach a full charge. Much like the iPhone, you’ll find yourself in a routine of plugging it in every night if you’re using it during the day.
The design and build of the iPad is still unmatched. It feels solid in your hands; crafted out of a single piece of aluminum and glass. It’s not as light as an ereader, but then again it does so much more.
The rear facing camera has been improved significantly. Enough so that you could use it as a primary point and shoot in good light. Why you would do that, we have no idea.
Customer service and warranties remain a priority for Apple. They have extended their AppleCare+ service to the iPad. For $99 you get 2 years of coverage and support with the additional protection for accidental damage. Drop it in the pool or on cement and you can have the entire device replaced for $49. Apple still offers their $79 option without the accidental damage coverage for those of you who are a little more careful.
Another overlooked aspect of tablets is the quantity and quality of apps. We covered quantity above but there is a lot to be said for quality. Because of the tools Apple offers to developers and the reference software Apple itself has developed, the standard for what iPad apps should be seems to be much higher than that of other tablets. Take a look at the screen shots below for comparison. Apple highlighted just a couple of these at it’s iPad event earlier this month. The top images are the official twitter apps for android and iOS respectively. The second set is the yelp app for each as well. The iPad apps are more robust, more intuitive, and more elegantly designed.
WRAP IT UP
This is what it comes down to (stay with us on this):
If you’re looking to purchase a device to read ebooks, a kindle or nook touch would work.
If you want to play lots of games, you would be fine with an Xbox 360 or play station.
If you want to edit videos or photos, a powerful desktop machine would do the trick.
If you need to do work on the go, a laptop would suffice.
If you want to paint or sketch, well, um, how bout some canvas.
But if you want to do all of these things on one device, the iPad is for you. That price tag doesn’t look so bad now, does it?