Pros: Incredible visual clarity, excellent battery life, numerous applications available, intuitive to use.
This review will not have any comparisons between the Apple iPad 3 and earlier models. It is my first iPad purchase. After spending a year with my iPhone, I felt it was time to give Apple another try. I have not yet “graduated” to the macbook, but I have been very pleased with the iPad 3 over the past week.
My wife and I settled on the 32GB model without the 4G. The difference in price was $130 dollars. The model we purchased set us back $599, while the 4G model listed at $729. That does not include data plans that must be purchased in order to use the 4G. If you have an iPhone, you can purchase a similar plan and use your iPhone as a hotspot. I already own a Verizon Mi-Fi, so it isn’t necessary for me to do either. With the availability of wi-fi at hotels, restaurants and my own home system, I have plenty of opportunities to use the internet without having to use my Mi-Fi as it is. The 32 GB should be enough to handle our light use, but if not, I will purchase an external drive for additional memory. Memory is cheap these days.
Setting up the Apple iPad 3 was very easy. Because we already have an iTunes account backed up to our home computer, we were able to dock the iPad and identify it is a new device in the Apple iTunes program. The program took over, installing updates and some applications on the iPad. It is not a perfect process. I am not sure why, but some applications came over, while others did not. The way the iTunes program is set up, you also have to move all of your music into the iCloud for it to automatically populate on the iPad. I have not done that yet, but you can also do it manually through iTunes. The iPad 3 comes with the same USB/110 charger that I use for my iPhones. I have plenty of these chargers around the house now.
I can’t really justify my purchase of this tablet. Other than to say I have not owned a tablet before. But this device does not do anything that my home computer, two laptops, two unlimited data iPhones and netbook do not do. It is more powerful and newer than all of those devices, but not particularly unique. Suffice it to say that I purchased this device because I want to know what the buzz is about.
First of all, like all Apple products, this device runs apps. These are the applications that you download from the Apple store. If you have a device that has not been “jail-breaked” you can only run Apple approved applications. Why anyone would jailbreak a phone or ipad is beyond me. If you want to go out and download a bunch of applications that are droid compatible, have at it. When your bank account gets compromised, you only have yourself to blame. Apple reviews all applications before they are made available to the public. This greatly increases the security on these devices.
I have downloaded quite a few applications to the iPad 3 that are also installed on my iPhone. Most of them are game applications, although I do own several travel-related and financial applications, as well. I notice the biggest difference with the game applications, which are incredibly more detailed than on my iPhone. While some of the applications (like the ones that allow you to tilt the device to control) take some getting used to, most of the applications are superior on the iPad 3. You can also use the device as a Kindle. I do not own a Kindle, so that application is going to take some getting used to. We have downloaded a few books and magazines to give it a try and, so far, I like it.
Pixel power. That is one of the first things that visibly stand out with the iPad 3. I have actually watched episodes of television programs on my iPhone. They actually aren’t entirely bad. I tried watching a movie once, but it seemed like my iPhone was continually buffering. The iPad features a A5X chip that delivers 3.1 million pixels. In terms of comparison, that would be four times more pixel power than the iPad 2. It is also one million more pixels than your standard high definition television (2048 x 1536 as opposed to HDTV’s 1920 x 1080). Part of this clarity results from a process designed by Apple engineers that lifts the pixels onto a plane above the signals for the pixels, preventing bleed over caused by the signals.
Airprint. The Apple iPad 3 will print to compatible printers without tethering. There are a variety of printers avaiable, with a Canon version selling at Target for a mere $49. Before you run off and purchase a new printer, you may want to experiment with printing applications that allow you to "air print" from you iPad to non-compatible printers.
My wife and I use the iPad 3 for email and light gaming. We have not purchased any accessories for word processing, so we aren’t using it for any heavy writing (like reviewing products). The lightweight, ultra-thin design does make it very convenient to sit on the couch and play games or do light typing, such as email or internet surfing. The on screen keyboard operates similar to my iPhone keyboard, although it is designed like a QWERTY keyboard if you use it sideways and want to try and type. We generally hunt and peck for the light use it gets anyway. If you open a text box on the screen, the virtual keyboard automatically appears in the lower portion of the screen, minimizing the webpage to the top half. For our light use, the ten hour suggested battery life has proven to be accurate.
While we have not put this device to the test with streaming HD movies or heavy gaming, the battery life has not been an issue. That is really surprising consider the razor thin design. The battery goes into sleep mode when the device isn’t being used, so it preserves the battery life even further. We have come to enjoy the touch-and-go flash storage that allows us to instantly use the device when we power it on. That is a great leap forward from the laptops and desktop that we use. As a PC user, I am unfamiliar with the macbook or similar laptops. They may also utilize the flash storage. But for our use, this is a great feature that gives the iPad an edge over our laptop devices.
As iPhone users, my wife and I have become familiar with the interface with Apple products. This has made the transition to the iPad 3 fairly easy. This device operates similarly to the iPhone with “pinch or pull” features that allow you to expand or contract the screen size, finger scrolling, swiping and tilt control features. The iPad 3 is very responsive to touch controls, allowing for seamless game interaction and simple internet browsing. If you have played games like Bejeweled, you are familiar with the speed required, which corresponds to swiping motion. This device provides instant feedback for fast-paced gaming action. I also tried a free flight simulator, which takes some getting used to. The intense graphics did not appear to slow this response time down one bit.
I do not use my iPad 3 for photos or video, but that isn’t because I can’t. I just haven’t had an opportunity, and probably won’t be inclined to use it that way. During my trip to New York last week, I saw people shooting video with their iPads (not sure which models), but it seems kind of tacky. Holding a tablet up to take a picture or shoot video just seems like overkill to me. But, if you are not embarrassed, you will get a high quality product. The iPad 3 delivers HD video as well as still photography. The camera delivers images at 5 megapixels, which is at the reasonable end for point-and-shoot cameras. In terms of comparison, the Polaroid A500 camera delivers the same quality image for around forty dollars for the entire camera. This compact camera is also capable of delivering HD video without the intrusiveness of a tablet. The video quality on the iPad 3 is standard HD at 1080p. The video has stabilizing technology, which is an item that will drive up the price of a point-and-shoot camera.
The iPad3 has over 200,000 applications available for download. Many of these applications are free. These include excellent graphic games (MetalStorm), travel applications (TripAdvisor, WorldMate), Financial Applications (several financial institutions), Photo Editing (Photo Booth), Navigation (Google Earth, Maps), Social Media (Facebook), News (Drudge), Books (iBooks), Entertainment (Netflix, Flixster), Fitness (MyFitnessPal) and many more. There are also numerous titles that you can pay for. These include basic gaming applications that run as low as ninety-nine cents to word processing programs (Pages) which runs $9.99, all the way up to a video management program that allows you to track video from your iPad (iRA Pro, which sells for $899.99). Purchasing applications can be done through iTunes. When you initially set up your iTunes account, you identify an account to link to the account for in-app purchases or purchases direct from your device.
The iPad 3 has plenty of Apple accessories as well as an endless number of products from the secondary market. There are a variety of docking stations, to include docking station/sound systems which can run as high as $1,000 (Band and Olufson). However, there are plenty of options in the one hundred dollar range. The only accessory I have purchased so far is a leather smart-cover, which runs $69.99 from the Apple store. It has four parallel magnetic sections that allow you to fold the cover into a triangle. This allows you to elevate the iPad for light typing or viewing movies. The cover simply rolls over the screen and unfolds when you are finished and are ready to protect the screen of your iPad. You can also purchase plastic sheets, like the ones on my iPhone, but you lose some of the sensitivity if you choose that option. We only use the smart-cover for that purpose. The screen cleans off easily with a soft cloth.
Apple products are expensive. However, I appreciate the customer support in the store during our purchase. We purchased our iPhones through the Verizon store. Verizon is okay, but their stores can be stressful. The Apple store was incredibly busy, but we were quickly assisted by a pleasant young lady who seemed very knowledgeable about Apple products. She did not try to “oversell” us or get us to purchase a bunch of accessories we did not want. I was very happy with the support. While I hope I never have to take advantage of the one-year warranty, I feel the support would be favorable based on our experience in the Apple Store. She also mentioned an add-on warranty that runs ninety-nine dollars and covers the iPad for negligence and extends the warranty to two years. Although we passed on the extended warranty, one is offered for those who want the added layer of protection.
I have been pleased with my Apple iPad 3. I find Apple products to be more expensive than they should. However, they tend to be more secure than their PC counterparts and there is much better quality control on the available applications. While the selection is smaller, there is something for everyone in the Apple iTunes store. I like the incredibly quick on/off function, which is operated the same way that I power up my iPhone. The iPad is intuitive to use, has incredible clarity and surprisingly long battery life. It is not a netbook or a laptop, so it is hard to make a comparison. It has smaller storage capacity and no keyboard. But it is faster, lighter, clearer, and has added functionality. It is hard to describe why I like by iPad 3, other than to say “I can see what the buzz is about.” It is just a convenient way to game, read, watch movies or surf the internet. Four stars.