By Jim Karpen on Thu, 03/15/2012
So how come the other media guys have a new iPad in their hands and I don't? Apple? I envy those guys, and in surveying the reviews, my impression is that they're all pretty ecstatic. What else is new? Of course, they rave about the screen. TechCrunch describes it best. They say it's like going for an eye test when you're getting glasses. After reading the first few lines, everything is blurry. Then you put on glasses, and voila, every thing is much clearer. That's what the new iPad screen is like. Walter Mossberg, of the Wall Street Journal, uses the same analogy: "Using the new display is like getting a new eyeglasses prescription—you suddenly realize what you thought looked sharp before wasn't nearly as sharp as it could be." He placed his iPad 2 next to the new iPad with the same text on the screen and noticed a dramatic difference.
Not only is everything sharper, but the screen will accommodate Apple's new selection of 1080p HD movies. An article on Ars Technica compares Apple's new 1080p movies with Blu-ray, and finds that the quality is quite similar. The review says that this is surprising, given that Apple's 1080p movies have a much smaller file size (due to the need to conserve network bandwidth and storage space on your device). But it also says that in the end, the image of Blu-ray "reigns supreme." The article puts some images side by side so that you can compare for yourself.
David Pogue of the New York Times says that images on the new display are "jaw-droppingly good." But he points out that while Apple's apps, which he lists, have been optimized for the retina display, many others haven't yet been, so they will only look moderately better. He also makes the interesting point that when developers upgrade their apps with higher-resolution graphics, it means that the file size is much larger. In addition, he points out that even if you don't have the new iPad, the apps you download that are optimized for it will also be taking more space on your old iPad. And apps that are universal are even larger. So as nice as it is, it means that memory gets filled up more quickly for all iPad users thanks to the retina display.
Are there any other tradeoffs? The main one, noted by Walter Mossberg, is the increased thickness and weight. The new iPad is 8% heavier and 7% thicker. However, the new iPad is still lighter and thinner than the original. The first iPad was 1.5 pounds, and .5 inches thick, whereas the new one is 1.4 pounds and .37 inches thick.
Another important feature of the new iPad is the LTE data speeds. The TechCrunch review gives a good picture of how fast it is: "Put simply: it’s fast. Really fast. Faster-than-my-WiFi fast." Speed tests found 40 mbps download and 20 mbps upload on Verizon, with the download speeds being about 40 times faster than Verizon's 3G speeds.
You can find a good roundup of reviews on Mashable.