New iPad stretches Apple lead - review

2012-06-12 10:00
Apple has confirmed the South African pricing for the latest generation iPad. (Apple)

Apple has confirmed the South African pricing for the latest generation iPad. (Apple)

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Cape Town - Apple has cemented its dominance of the tablet market with the latest generation iPad.

With sales well in excess of 20 million, the US company has moved the goal posts further away from its competitors with the device.

On the surface, there doesn't seem much to distinguish the third generation of the iPad from its predecessors, but after using the device, one can see that Apple is playing attention to what consumers want.

The biggest hardware improvement has all to do with graphics capability: The display is noticeably clearer with the Retina Display, making games look better and boosting image and video quality.

But the technical specifications don't matter as much as the conversations that the brand is able to generate.

Operating system

"Oh is that the new iPad?" a stranger will ask on the train or in the hotel lobby. That is often followed by how much they want one, or are going to buy one soon.

And it's not limited to geek types either. Children will point at the device and nudge their friends; people will look at the iPad over one's shoulder, co-reading content, and even older people choose it above traditional photo albums or small cellphone screens to see pictures of their grandchildren.

That is the success of the iPad: Regardless of how you may feel about Apple and its product policies, the iPad is a winner and the company is not resting on the accolades, but has moved the goal posts further away from competitors.

The new operating system on the iPad feels much more like a real computer than a tablet toy. Folder organisation, business and productivity apps make living with the device easier and more functional.

The fact that children love the tablet has not gone unnoticed in Cupertino. The iPad has a raft of educational and gaming apps to appeal to younger children.

For (much) older children, games like Real Racing 2 HD and Air Supremacy show off the graphics capability of the device and Machinarium puzzles boggle older brain cells in brilliant definition.

Apple has included a higher spec 5 megapixel camera because the company found that several iPad 2 owners were using the device to take pictures, even though it wasn't intended as a camera.

Battery life

The latest generation iPad is slightly heavier than its predecessor, but hardly noticeable and hours of game play doesn't leave one tired of holding the device.

A relatively unadvertised feature of the new iPad is that it plays YouTube videos with ease (over Wi-Fi networks), and it is unclear whether the modification is due to Google, Apple or web standards, but it is a welcome change that immediately makes the device great for instant video sharing and communal viewing.

Still, there are some issues with the iPad that require a mention: The lack of a micro-SD memory card slot is a shortcoming especially as downloading hundreds of apps and related content filled up 32GB on the review unit rather quickly.

Apple may be saving that feature for the fourth generation device and hopefully it will also include GPS.

One area that the iPad scores full marks is the battery life: Some may think that the better display will compromise the battery, but the device runs for more than two days with real world use.

This makes it an effective tool for the road warrior who chooses the iPad over a laptop.

As rivals plan an assault on the Apple product, the California company has kept them from competing effectively by offering the iPad at the aggressive price point of R4 999 for the 16GB version with Wi-Fi.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

Read more on:    apple  |  ipad  |  mobile

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