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FAQ: What you need to know now about the 'new iPad'

Gregg Keizer | March 9, 2012
Now that Apple has unveiled the new iPad and is touting what's changed, like the screen, and what hasn't, like the prices, you've got questions. We've got the answers.

Like the A5, the A5X is Apple-designed, and based on the ARM low-power processor architecture.

You mentioned the screen.... What's special about it? Apple quadrupled the number of pixels in the 9.7-in. display, which now sports a resolution of 2,048-by-1,536 pixels. (The first two iterations of the iPad used a 9.7-in. screen with a resolution of 1,024-by-768 pixels.)

Apple slapped its "Retina" label on the new iPad's screen -- the same term it's long used for the iPhone's display -- to describe a pixel density sufficient "that the human eye is unable to distinguish individual pixels when [the tablet is] held at a normal distance."

While that may be somewhat of a stretch -- the new iPad's pixel density of 264 pixels-per-inch, or ppi, is about 20% less than the iPhone 4S' 326 ppi -- analysts have said it's not worth quibbling over.

So, four times the number of pixels, but only twice the graphics performance? What does that mean in the end? Sadly, we won't know until the new iPad is in the hands of testers who can put it through its benchmark paces.

What about a faster connection to the Internet? The new iPad has that covered. Unlike last year's model, the 2012 version supports the faster LTE -- also dubbed "4G" -- networks many carriers, including Verizon and AT&T in the U.S., have either deployed or are in the process of rolling out.

The new tablet supports LTE, as well as 3G standards such as HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA. LTE's throughput maxes out at 72Mbps (megabits-per-second), but as always, your mileage will definitely vary. Coverage is the issue, of course, as well as the additional cost of a data plan.

Verizon has rolled out LTE in about eight times as many markets in the U.S. as rival AT&T, for instance, but it still isn't available everywhere. (For Verizon's coverage, check out this map or fill in your address in the on-screen form. AT&T's is here ; click on "Coverage" on that page.)

As far as what a data plan costs and its rules and regulations, check with your mobile carrier. Verizon and AT&T, for example, will retain their current data plan pricing for the new iPad. (Apple's posted some of the data plans for those two carriers on its iPad ordering site .)

What if I can't connect to an LTE network? In that case, the new iPad downshifts to 3G.

Is the new iPad the same size as the iPad 2? Not quite. It's a tad heavier -- just under two ounces heavier -- and about a quarter-inch thicker. The width and height of the new tablet are identical to its predecessor.


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