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The “new” iPad – What we expected and what we really got…

Apple last night finally took the wraps of its new iPad… and interestingly, simply called it the iPad.

No iPad 3, no iPadHD or iPad HD, just iPad – with the iPad actually now newer than the iPad 2. Confused? Well, don’t be.

All that matters really is what it can do and if you’re unsure why this third-generation Apple tablet is better than the one that came before, then here’s a quick rundown.

What we expected… a better screen.

What we got… an amazing screen.

The Retina Display first seen on the iPhone 4 is now on the iPad and brings with it the highest resolution found on a mobile device at 2048×1536. It has 3.1 million pixels within the display, a million more than massive HD TVs. It’s certainly the pick of the feature upgrades and the one that will certainly give original iPad owners reason to trade up. Being four times then quality, still may not be enough for iPad 2 owners though, who might well be better to wait for the iPad 4, sorry new new iPad.

What we expected… a better camera.

What we got… a better camera.

The pretty basic iPad 2 camera now has 5 megapixel quality and the same optics as found in the excellent snapper on the iPhone 4S. Now called the iSight like on a Mac, it more usefully can record video in 1080p HD, taking full advantage of that stinking Retina Display. 

What we expected… a quad-core processor.

What we got… a quad-core graphics processor.

The A5X is a step-up from the A5 in the iPhone 4S with its quad-core graphical power but it’s not a full quad-core chip. That will obviously be saved for the A6. This was needed though to ensure the Retina Display works as well as it should and helps designers create some of the best-looking mobile games around.

What we expected… a thinner device.

What we got… a fatter and heavier device.

Well, only slightly. With all that extra power consumption and speed, the iPad has had to put on a little bit of weight.  The Wi-Fi-only model is now 651g rather than 601g with a depth of 9.4mm over the previous 8.8mm.

What we expected… longer battery life.

What we got… the same battery life.

With the iPad being far more hungry for juice, you’d have thought Apple might have tried to use this upgrade to add to the time you can use it for. But it’s stuck with the 10 hours it claims it can work, which considering the negligible increase in size, is probably the best you could have hoped for without the iPad becoming overly fat and heavy with a much larger battery cell.

What we expected… 4G.

What we got… 4G that’s pointless in Britain.

But while Americans celebrated Apple’s announcement of the superfast LTE wireless technology, in Britain it’s the most redundant feature of the new machine. It will be at least a year before the UK even gets a sniff of next-generation mobile connectivity and by that time there will be a new iPad anyway. If you travel to the USA a lot, it might be a bonus for you.

What we expected… NFC wireless mobile payment technology.

What we got… a Personal Hotspot.

The iPad can now be turned into a hotspot to connect up to five other devices using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, to share the internet connection. Whether that’s going to be of much use, remains to be seen. Most iPad owners also have a 3G-enabled smartphone too and it’s unlikely you’ll have a laptop as well as your iPad to share that connection with.

What we expected… Siri.

What we got… Voice Dictation.

It’s not the personal assistant on your iPhone 4S but it at least saves you some time. Tap the microphone icon on the virtual keyboard and speak your words. The iPad will then convert it to text for messages, notes, the web and third-party apps, such as Facebook and Twitter.

What we expected… new software.

What we got… iPhoto.

Bringing iPhoto to the iPad was a glorious move. What better way to show off all of those pictures on the new Retina Display. With improvements to GarageBand and iMovie too, the iLife suite is now complete and along with iWork is up there with the best and most useful mobile software ever created.

What we expected… a display you can feel.

What we got… nothing so futuristic.

Last-minute rumours the iPad would feature a haptic display, that allows you to “feel” what’s on the screen, were unfounded. But there’s rarely any smoke without fire and that could be something in the works for the next iPad generation, which will surely be a much more of a major jump than the one from the iPad 2.

What we expected… a cheaper iPad 2.

What we got… a bargain iPad.

Like the price reduction for the iPhone 4 when the iPhone 4S was launched, Apple decided to keep the iPad 2 on sale and reduce the cost. You can now buy the 16GB version only for just £329, making it the best value tablet out there and a worthwhile purchase for anyone who’s yet to delve into the tablet arena. Even without the better screen and processor boost, it’s a fully spec’d device, now at an affordable entry-level price.