The new iPad might have a similar profile and look and feel to iPad 2 but the Retina screen tech and A5X processor are actually the biggest upgrades to the iPad ever.  The screen upgrade covers Apple’s movie ambitions, taking on HD TVs ahead of any Apple television set announcement and the quad-core processor is designed for power apps and – crucially – games. The question is, what will you get from the upgrades on March 16th  and what real benefits can you expect to see over the cheaper (£329) iPad 2? We played with the new iPad at the Apple launch last night and have these impressions to share…

VIDEO AND IMAGE EDITING

The A5X processor offers a massive speed boost to image editing and any scrolling functions, much like the iPhone 4S above the iPhone 3GS. Photos and galleries now load faster than and flicking between images to compare and edit the best one is instant. If you’re used to hanging around while big images re-size or take time to process effects, this is a revelation – we couldn’t see any pause in any editing process.

RETINA SCREEN

The screen upgrade is the biggest (and most useful) upgrade. It feels identical to the landmark iPhone 4S screen and it beats Super AMOLED and Sony’s Tablet S screen tech instantly. We’ve tested a lot of tablets and this is the best yet – on screen text and web browsing are enhanced and movie trailers sparkle.  As a first impression, this feels like a step up from VHS to DVD or Blu-ray – in fact, for some people, it will feel like you’ve put on a much needed pair of glasses. New games like Sky Gamblers looked great, on a visual level with the new PlayStation Vita which, it has to be said, has a much smaller screen. If you watch movies on a tablet, you’ll need a seriously high-end TV and Blu-ray set-up to get this level of detail. The A5X processor may need deeper investigation to compete against Tegra 3 in tests but the screen is a winner from the first minute you touch the new iPad.

iSIGHT CAMERA

Tablet cameras have always been the poor addition at the end of the production process and the iPad was no exception, until now.  In practise the new camera feels faster and the new lens tech finally begins to match the performance that iPhone users are used to. It’s 5 megapixels not 8 megapixels of course but, like the new screen, it’s the best version you’ll find on a tablet.  Apple did a video capture demo and it’s clear that the new iPad is becoming a device used for video capture more than photos – live video looks great on screen and that’s something that the iPhone 4S can’t match on a small screen.

 

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