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New iPad wins rave reviews

Network World Staff | March 16, 2012
The first hands-on reviews of the new iPad make it clear not only that Apple keeps the tablet crown but why it continues to do so.

John Gruber, at Daring Fireball: "It's not just sharp; the display also shows great bright colors without any saturation-gimmickry like you get with OLED displays. Photographs look amazingly good, but also amazingly true-to-life....Photos don't just look sharp when zoomed out — they look sharp when zoomed in."

One drawback, according to Mossberg: "One thing Apple hasn't fixed: like all glossy, LCD color displays, this one still does poorly in direct sunlight."

User experience: polished

Nguyen's observation about Apple's high-def app updating is part of the company's obsessive focus on the "user experience," a term that lacks any scientific meaning but something that users know when they experience it.

"User experience is where the new iPad really shines," Nguyen says. "Apple's holistic ecosystem has not only its own native apps but a legion of devoted third-party developers pushing out software that must pass stringent usability testing. It's a recipe for polish and consistency when you first pick the iPad up, as well as longevity as you explore the 200,000+ iPad apps, periodicals, books and multimedia content on offer."

"What is changed — and what is unchanged — in this newest iteration of the iPad reveals Apple's priorities," Gruber comments. "Most important: how things look on screen, how they feel, how smoothly they animate. Not important: a faster CPU. Important: faster graphics. (Those last two priorities emphasize the hole that Intel has dug itself. Their expertise — CPUs — is no longer the most important processing bottleneck for personal computing. Graphics are.)"

The Verge's Jim Dalrymple summed it up this way: "So, what did I like about the [new] iPad? Simple — the experience. Nobody in the market today can touch the Apple experience."

CPU: the right kind of power

As Gruber's comment above indicates, Apple wasn't concerned to match the quad-core CPUs of some rival Android tablets and even smartphones. It upgraded the dual-core A5 processor with a quad-core graphics engine, delivering a dramatic boost in graphics performance.

"[T]he third-generation iPad blows away every other iOS device in terms of graphics performance, " says Macworld's Jason Snell. "In our tests using the GLBench 3D graphics testing app, the third-generation iPad could draw a complex 3D scene at the full frame rate of its display, 60 frames per second, without breaking a sweat."

"Going beyond pure graphics performance, my tests found the new iPad to be roughly the same speed as the old one," Snell says. "The GeekBench testing app said the iPad 2 was slightly faster. The Sunspider JavaScript benchmark gave them both the same scores. And in my webpage-loading test, the new iPad was faster."

Slashgear's Nguyen ran some tests to show the new graphics power. "We shot a selection of videos using the new iPad and the iPad 2, and processed them in iMovie [an iOS app] to see how the old and new graphics chips compared," he says. "With a one-minute clip, a 720p HD clip recorded on the iPad 2 took 1 minute 2 seconds to export, while a 720p HD clip recorded on the new iPad took 52 seconds to export. A one minute 1080p clip recorded on the new iPad took 52.6 seconds to export."


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