Apple's new iPad hits stores, but is it really better?

Apple's new iPad hits stores, but is it really better?

Speculations were rife about its features. Externally, it might look similar, but that is where the similarities end - well, other than the similar battery life.

Kushan Mitra
Apple's new chief executive, Tim Cook, launched the new iPad recently, but do you have to get one whenever it comes to India? It happened on the night before Holi, and across the world techno-geeks and Apple fanboys were expectantly waiting for the latest iteration of the device that had revolutionised the way we use computers.

Speculation had been rife about what the next iPad would have. People even speculated on the name. Would it be iPad3? Or iPad HD? Or iPad2S? And at the end of it, Tim Cook just called it the new iPad.

Whatever he called it, the product represents a revolutionary upgrade on the previous generation.

Externally, it might look similar, but that is where the similarities end - well, other than the similar battery life. The new iPad has far better resolution, is much faster and can access next-generation mobile networks. Let us break down some of the big pluses of this great new device.

If you bought a high-definition television recently, you will be positively amazed at the screen of this new iPad, which is much sharper than traditional HD panels. The 2048x1536 pixel resolution signifies not just the end of blurriness, it also means that the new iPad is incredibly sharp.

Apple calls this the 'retina' display - any sharper and your eye will not be able to make the difference - and it has 264 pixels per inch (ppi). Four times as many pixels as the iPad2.

The new A5 processor is a quad-core unit, and Apple has apparently managed to rewrite the underlying software to take advantage of all the processor power that is used to deliver the improved resolution.

The processor also upscales existing applications to take advantage of the better resolution - so your Angry Birds HD app will become Angry Birds HD+.

GOING through the technical specifications of the new iPad with 4G, one can see that there exist two different models - one for AT& T and the other for Verizon.

Both won't be inter-operable on rival Long Term Evolution (LTE) frequencies. AT& T uses the 2,100 megahertz band to transmit LTE signals and Verizon uses the 700 megahertz band.

It is true that the Broadband Wireless Spectrum has already been auctioned in India (leaving no scope for a 4G scam for the time being) and it will likely be used to offer LTE services from later this year, but the government has auctioned this spectrum in different frequencies (2,300 and 2,500 megahertz).

If you buy a 4G iPad in the United States, it will not be compatible will Indian 4G networks when they launch; it'll however work on Indian 3G networks.

That said, given that Reliance Industries has LTE spectrum and are also an Apple Premium Reseller in India, it might be likely that Apple could produce a 4G iPad that works on Reliance networks when those go live.

But that is just speculation at this point.

The new iPad has a five-megapixel iSight camera and Apple claims that although it does not have the megapixels of its competitors to offer, its 'five element'lens allows the iPad to take better pictures than most point-and-click cameras.

With its improved camera and processor, the new iPad has a few stand-out applications. Not the least of which is the new iPhoto app that allows you to edit pictures at a touch (you can download it for $4.99 from the iTunes App Store).

There is sadly still no SD Card or USB slot, so you will need to use the camera attachment for the iPad.

Not having a distinctive numeric identifier is actually a good thing. Much like the automobile industry, Apple will most likely follow model-year nomenclature.

This therefore will be the 2012 iPad. We already effectively use that nomenclature for Apple's traditional computing products - I am, for example, typing this on a 2011 MacBook Pro 15-inch.

Apple hasn't raised prices of the WiFi-only model of the new iPad, keeping them on a par with the old sale prices of $499, $599 and $699 for 16GB, 32GB and 64GB, respectively.

The company, in fact, has dropped prices of the iPad2 by $100 in countries where the new iPad is being made available; even in India prices have dropped between Rs 2,000 and Rs 5,000, depending on the model. Keep in mind, these are prices before local taxes.

The 4G model costs $129 more than the WiFi-only model. The iPad2 had prices starting from Rs 29,500 for the 16GB WiFi-only model (Rs 24,500 after the price drop), but with the US dollar surging against the rupee, the new iPad could cost more than the old one.

The launches of Apple's Mac-Book and iPod lines take place instantly across the world, but the company has been staggering the launches for the iPhone and iPad. India is not in the first wave (March 16) or the second wave (March 23) for the new iPad. Expect WiFi-only models to hit stores by mid-year.

Published on: Mar 22, 2012, 11:20 AM IST
Posted by: Gaytri Madhura, Mar 22, 2012, 11:20 AM IST