March 15, 2012 at 12:13 PM ET
The new iPad will be available on Friday, but reviews of it are already floating around — courtesy of those lucky enough to chosen by Apple for a sneak peek of the device. So what's being said about the latest Apple gadget? The same things that are said about any upgraded Apple gadget, of course.
The basic message sent by the early reviewers is that the new iPad is faster and better than its predecessor. Oh, and that it has a significantly improved screen.
No surprises there, right?
Once one reads past all the usual ooh-ing and ahhh-ing, it becomes clear that this batch of reviewers was very intent on finding some sort of faults with the new iPad. And that makes perfect sense, doesn't it? After all, Apple does a great job when it comes to telling you why you should want a new iPad — someone needs to figure out if all the claims made are true and whether there are any hidden imperfections.
So what have the early reviewers discovered so far?
The New York Times' David Pogue thought it irksome that apps designed for the new iPad's high-resolution Retina display require significantly more memory than the current ones. "Tests performed by Macworld.com revealed that the graphics in Retina-ready apps consume two to three times as much of the iPad’s nonexpandable storage than pre-Retina apps," he explains. "To update their apps for the new display, software companies must redo their graphics at much higher resolution, which means much larger files."
Despite declaring that the "new iPad makes Apple's tablet domination clearer than ever," TechCrunch's MG Siegler has a couple of things to pick on. "I’ve found it takes quite a bit longer to charge the new iPad," he writes. "[S]everal hours — you’ll probably want to do it overnight."
Siegler also called attention to the device's tendency to get a bit warm. "One other slight downside which I have to assume is related to either the battery or the LTE functionality is that unlike previous iPad models, the new iPad does get noticeably warm in the lower left corner after prolonged use," he explains before adding that "[i]t’s never hot, just warm."
The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg mostly focused on specs when it came to the iPad's shortcomings. "Mostly to make room for a larger battery, the new iPad weighs about 8% more and is about 7% thicker than the prior model," he writes. "While the weight gain was noticeable, I didn't find it a problem even for long reading or video-watching sessions. The extra thickness was barely discernible."
Like Mossberg, Macworld.com's Jason Snell seemed irked by the new iPad's slight weight gain. "In my review of the iPad 2, I suggested a rule of Apple product evolution I called 'Jobs’s Law' — that the latest version of any Apple product is likely to be thinner and lighter than its predecessor," he tells readers. "The third-generation iPad breaks that law."
Snell also found that the device didn't really run much faster than the iPad 2 in tests. "Which is not to say it’s slow — they’re the two fastest iOS devices ever," he quickly clarified though.
The Verge's Josh Topolsky expressed his appreciation for the timeless design of the iPad, but — while he doesn't mind that the third-generation device looks like its predecessor — he was a bit annoyed that some minor design quirks still exist. "I'm sure there are many reasons why Apple chose to put the 3.5mm port in the upper left-hand corner of the device (in portrait)/lower left-hand corner (in landscape), but I feel like it would make a lot more sense on the bottom of the device," he explains. "Secondly, it would be nice to be able to dock the iPad in landscape mode, but that would require a second 30-pin dock connection on the side of the tablet."
Topolsky's colleague Dieter Bohn adds that there's one more pesky thing about the new iPad: It won't allow you to use FaceTime over LTE. " It's the exact same behavior that iOS devices on 3G networks have always exhibited, but it's doubly frustrating as Verizon's LTE plans for the new iPad include Wi-Fi hotspot functionality at no extra cost," he clarifies. "In other words, you could easily initiate a Wi-Fi hotspot from your new Verizon LTE iPad and use it to successfully make a FaceTime call from an iPhone — likely with little to no degradation in video quality as compared to a Wi-Fi connection, since LTE is so fast."
SlashGear's Vincent Nguyen's main qualm appears to be the absence of Siri. "Apple’s personal digital assistant was introduced — in beta — on the iPhone 4S, but is still exclusive to the smartphone," he explains for those who might be unfamiliar with the feature. "The new iPad instead gets voice dictation, with a new microphone button on the keyboard that does speech-to-text in apps."
USA Today's Edward Baig notes that the iPad's diction feature "almost always spits out results right away, but doesn't always hear correctly." "For example," he elaborates, "the word 'maybe' was heard as 'baby.' But more often than not the accuracy was decent enough that it wouldn't take long to manually fix errors. Even the commas were typically put in the right places."
No major faults so far, right? Like, the headline says, the new iPad certainly foiled reviewers attempts to find something wrong.
What it boils down to, in the words of Pogue, is that the "new iPad doesn’t introduce anything that we haven’t seen before, either in the iPhone or in rival tablets ... Apple just took its white-hot iPad and added the latest screen, battery and cellular technologies."
He's not saying that you shouldn't buy it though. Of course you should buy it — unless you already have one.