New iPad (3rd Gen) – What You Need to Know and If You Need it at All!

The new iPad, as expected, was announced yesterday and, aside from the name (simply, new iPad), the rumors swirling around the device mostly bore out, with few surprises along the way. Interestingly enough, that name (or lack thereof) could be key in changing how you look at the iPad – and whether or not you decide to get one. But, we’ll get to that later. First, here’s all the good stuff – inside and out – that the new iPad has to offer.

The feature that arguably generated the most excitement was the Retina display, which packs 264 pixels per inch into a full color IPS screen boasting an unmatched 2048 x 1536 resolution. At 15 inches, the human eye can’t perceive the individual pixels – hence, the Retina display moniker.

Though Apple threw around references to quad-core technology during the press conference, the new A5X chip is actually a dual-core processor. The GPU, or graphics processor, does have four cores, and all will likely be put to use thanks to that Retina display. As for fear of being outgunned by actual quad-core processors, worry not – that won’t be the case. According to Apple (not exactly an unbiased source, granted), the A5X processor is twice as fast as the NVIDIA Tegra 3, and offers four times the graphics performance. Whatever the truth is, it’s safe to assume that the A5X can more than hold its own with the quad-core processors in the market right now.

The other big rumor that came to fruition was 4G LTE readiness. iPads in the United States will be able to connect to 73 Mbps LTE networks, for those lucky enough to live in a place covered by that network right now. Outside of the United States, the iPad will for the most part not have 4G connectivity – the new iPad works with 700 and 2100 MHz frequency LTE. The 700 MHz band is only used Stateside, whereas much of Europe’s LTE networks use the 800 MHz band.

The rear-facing camera, which Apple calls iSight, is a 5 MP camera with a side-illuminated sensor and an infrared filter. It’s very similar to the camera on the iPhone 4S, but with a few less megapixels, which shouldn’t make too big of a difference. That camera is also capable of 1080p video recording, which includes image stabilization and noise reduction (technology that detects which pixels move, which in turns indicates the pixels that are likely noise). The front-facing camera, which Apple calls the Facetime camera, is also present.

Finally, there isn’t Siri. To the disappointment of many, the iPhone 4S’ popular digital assistant did not make the move to the new iPad, though similar technology will enable dictation on the new iPad.

The new iPad will be available on March 16th. It will sell for $499, $599, and $699 for the 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB Wi-Fi models, respectively. The 4G LTE models will cost $629, $729, and $829 for the same storage capacities. Pre-orders are available now.

So, do you need a new iPad? The naming scheme should help give you a new, or perhaps old, perspective on that question. Laptops, for the most part, lean on a strong brand name – the Vaio, the MacBook Air, the Satellite, and so on. While some of those do have constantly changing model numbers tacked on for new releases, the focus isn’t on the number – it’s on the constancy of the name. And, it’s important to note that most people don’t slough off their laptops after one year of use, whereas the temptation to ditch the iPad 2 for a new iPad is so strikingly high.

Many people will complain (and have already complained) that the new iPad is not revolutionary. In truth, it’s not – the new iPad is not going to change the way you use a tablet in a dramatic, world-altering sense. That’s not a bad thing, either – the snag is that Apple, along with most other big tech companies out there, likes to slap the words “revolutionary,” “innovative,” “game-changing,” and “incredible” on just about every tablet and smartphone they release. We’ve begun to lose perspective on what those words should mean. A revolution implies serious, square one upheaval. It means a radically new idea. The original iPhone was revolutionary. The original iPad was game-changing. The new iPad fits neither of those bills. The iPad, now known sans number, should be viewed in the same way – a yearly update that does not necessarily warrant a purchase, if the old model still has life and functionality.

When a new laptop gets released, that hype machine doesn’t exist to the same extent. There’s not as much pressure to get the newest laptop as a result. Hype aside, is there really a strong reason to throw off a not-even-one-year-old iPad 2 for a new iPad that serves the same purpose? That’s not to say that the technology in the new iPad isn’t impressive, because it certainly is, but it’s worth mentioning that there’s a lot of life left in the tablets that consumers own now. And, if anyone really feels bad about being left in the dust by not buying a new iPad, take heart. There’s always next year.