Apple’s third generation iPad will hit store shelves tomorrow, March 16, but the first wave of reviews are already out. The general consensus is that Apple still has the best tablet on the market, the Retina Display is beautiful, and LTE performance is amazing — but iPad 2 owners don’t necessarily need to upgrade.
Apple’s new third generation iPad
Overall, the first wave of iPad reviews say battery life is impressive, especially considering the power drain LTE usage can have. Compared to the iPad 2, battery life turned out to be nearly the same.
The new iPad’s screen is getting lots of talk, too. Walt Mossberg from AllThingsD said,
My epiphany came when I placed my iPad 2 next to the new model, with the same text on the screen. Letters and words that had seemed sharp on the older model five minutes earlier suddenly looked fuzzier.
Daring Fireball’s John Gruber said, “Pixels pixels pixels. Battery battery battery. Speed speed speed. That’s the new iPad.”
The new iPad’s rear-facing camera now takes 5 megapixel photos, and the image quality is far superior to what the iPad 2 offers. Casual users may appreciate the better camera, but it looks like most people will still rely on the much better camera in the iPhone 4S or other point-and-shoot cameras.
Wireless data access over LTE left the first batch of reviewers happy, and hotspot support was a welcome addition. Wireless data plans continue to run month-to-month, so users won’t be required to sign up for two-year contracts with cell carriers.
While the new iPad is a fraction thicker and heavier than the iPad 2, the real disappointment was that Siri voice control, introduced with the iPhone 4S, isn’t included.
“Unfortunately, there are still a couple of omissions, the biggest being Siri,” said Vincent Nguyen from SlashGear. “Apple’s personal digital assistant was introduced — in beta — on the iPhone 4S, but is still exclusive to the smartphone.”
Macworld’s Jason Snell echoed that sentiment:
I actually find Siri useful in many cases where speaking a brief command is more efficient than swiping to unlock, swiping to find the right app, and then tapping through an interface in order to get what I want. I use Siri to set alarms and timers all the time. I don’t see why that wouldn’t be relevant on the iPad.
Despite the minor increase in weight and thickness, and the omission of Siri, the first wave of reviews call the new iPad a winner.
Be sure to watch for The Mac Observer’s new iPad review next week. We’ll be putting the tablet through its paces and reporting back with our findings.