The New iPad: Has Apple Reached the Glass Ceiling of Innovation?

Posted on March 27, 2012 by Joe Thomas

March 16th was a busy day for UPS and FedEx workers nationwide as they delivered millions of iPads to eager households.. But does the excitement of the iPad 3 last once you open the box and power up this new hunk of metal?

In my opinion, it doesn’t. And this is coming from a self-proclaimed geek of all geeks.

It seems that Apple may have reached a glass ceiling of innovation when it comes to the iPad 2. The form factor on the last three device refreshes hasn’t changed since Tim Cook took the reins.

New iPad Is Still The Same Old iPad

The new iPad doesn’t seem to do anything new. Does the iPad 3 do things better and faster than the iPad 1? Most certainly. But there is nothing revolutionary—or evolutionary—about the new device.

My iPad 1 can still do 99% of the same tasks as the new iPad. While text appears sharper, images are crisper, and apps open faster, is it really worth buying a new device? After all, money doesn’t grow on trees these days.

My First Hand Experience with the iPad 3

Chances are, you’ve already read an iPad 3 review by now. It’s hands down the best tablet on the market, but is it enough to justify the expense if you already own the iPad 1? I’m not even mentioning the iPad 2, because quite frankly, who can afford to buy a new tablet every time there is a new version?

I knew almost immediately after turning on the iPad and restoring my original iPad’s backup from iCloud that I’d be making a special trip to the Apple Store in the next 14 days. Don’t get me wrong, the display on the new iPad is gorgeous, but there is no added value for my use case.

Camera aside, there were no real improvements compared to the first iPad.

Yes, the iPad 3 has:

• More RAM
• A bigger battery
• A sharper screen
• Quad-core graphics

But these features don’t allow you to accomplish new tasks; they merely let you accomplish the same tasks more efficiently.

New reports indicate that the iPad 3 is hot. It physically runs hotter than previous generations. Consumer Reports indicates the iPad 3 can reach up to 116 degrees.

iPad 3 Retina Display: Does It Make Sense?

Does a Retina display really make sense on the iPad 3? The maximum resolution supported by high-definition video is 1080p (1920 x 1080). I’m overjoyed that Apple maintains the hand-friendly 4:3 ratio, but does such a high resolution make sense?

On a phone, I get it. The iPhone 4 display knocks the socks off of my antiquated 3GS. But on a tablet, we’re not holding the screen nearly as close to your face. Granted, on the iPad 1 it’s relatively easy to see the pixilation. Perhaps there’s a middle ground on the iPad 3 that Apple could’ve chosen?

Unfortunately, there’s not, unless the company changes the aspect ratio to 16:10—which looks and feels weird. When owning a Motorola Xoom for a few days (before quickly returning it), holding it in vertical mode just didn’t feel right. And I use my iPad in vertical mode 99.9% of the time.

Yes, the iPad screen is overkill. But it’s the right type of overkill. Rather than opting for a quad-core processor, Apple focused its resources where it counts: the screen.  Nothing is worse than seeing the pixels on text. The screen is the only option to upgrade, but it’s a darn good one.

The Pitfalls of 4G LTE

If you’re considering buying a Wi-Fi + 4G iPad, listen up. The 4G connectivity is ultra-fast. In fact, it’s faster than most public Wi-Fi networks. Web surfing is almost instantaneous on both Verizon and AT&T, but Big Red offers slightly faster connections. Netflix videos load extremely fast, as good as or better than your home Internet connection. It’s wireless heaven…but there’s a catch. And it’s a big one.

You’re on a tight leash. Both AT&T and Verizon meter their data, offering tiered plans with 250 MB, 2 GB (Verizon) or 3 GB (AT&T), and 5 GB (Both). You’ll blow through the 200 MB data plan in less than a day, and presumably eat through the GBs within a few hours if you’re watching Netflix. Essentially, the data plan is absolutely useless for anything other than email and web surfing.

This defeats the purpose of having LTE, doesn’t it? Going through 3 GB on AT&T using 3G is tough, but now that connections are 7 mbps or higher, the same metered model doesn’t make sense. Carriers need to reassess their LTE models. Perhaps 5 GB at a minimum for $30 makes sense, but realistically, users should have 10 GB to use.

You shouldn’t buy a 4G LTE model unless you’re a hardcore road warrior or have a long commute using public transportation. Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense. Especially given the expensive pricing from carriers. You may disagree, but think about how fast you blow through 2 GB of data on your current broadband Internet connection.

Should You Buy It?

If you’re a first-time tablet shopper, the new iPad is the most user-friendly, feature-rich slate available. If you already own an iPad 1 or an iPad 2, the decision is up to you. Or shall I say, your wallet. Coming from an iPad 1, the benefits are a sharper screen, faster processor and camera, but the advantages get a bit foggy if you already own the iPad 2. The new processor is clocked the same as the iPad 2, so the only real benefit is the quad-core graphics.

Let us know if you bought the new iPad and your first impressions. Find us on Facebook or Twitter @Nextag and don’t forget to download the Retina-friendly Nextag Mobile App for incredible savings on everyday products.

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