New Apple iPad first look: pre-lab test first impressions [Video]

by , Deputy Technology Editor Apple 16/03/2012
New Apple iPad first look review

We’ve since put the tablet through our rigorous lab testing to see how it compares with previous models and other tablets, find out how it performs in our full Apple iPad 3 review.

New Apple iPad – what’s new?

There’s only one thing you really need to know about the new iPad – Apple has doubled the resolution of the screen. According to Apple this means the pixels are so tightly packed that it’s impossible to see them from a normal distance, leading to ultra-sharp text, graphics and photos. Like the iPhone 4, Apple dubs it a ‘retina display’.

Video by Chris Christoforou, words by Andy Vandervell

Apple’s also upgraded the camera and the graphics processor, but the screen upgrade has come at a cost – the new iPad is 51 grams heavier and 0.6mm thicker than the iPad 2. See our new iPad vs. iPad 2 comparison for a more detailed look at how the two compare.

What follows are first impressions – we’re sending the new iPad to the lab now and will have full results this time next week.

New Apple iPad – Andy’s first impressions

As a current iPad 2 owner there were only two things I was interested in when the new iPad, aka the iPad 3, arrived:

1) How much better is the new ‘retina display’ really?
2) Is the difference in weight noticeable?

Starting with the screen, in the first few minutes I wasn’t blown away by the difference. I could see it looked sharper – that much was clear. But navigating menus and glaring at the new high-res icons, it didn’t look ‘twice as good’. When I started reading text, however, all that changed.

Apple boasted that text would look ‘better than a newspaper’ on the new iPad, and as the photo above shows it was no idle boast. Text looks vastly sharper and more readable on the new iPad’s retina display. It lacks the fuzziness around the edges that’s still visible on the iPad 2.

White backgrounds also look cleaner – the new iPad’s screen has a warmer tone, whereas the iPad 2 has a blueish hue – which helps legibility, too. Whether it’s worth upgrading for is a personal choice – best try before you buy – but in my eyes it’s a significant improvement.

On the second point, the difference is subtle but noticeable. While 50 grams doesn’t sound like a lot, holding the iPad 2 in one hand and the new iPad in the other, I could definitely feel the difference between the two. I’d wager it’s harder to tell without the iPad 2 to compare to, though, and tablets expert Chris Christoforou struggled to tell them apart without the screen on.

All the same, if you’re an iPad 2 owner who feels it’s a already little too heavy – particularly for prolonged spells of reading – you’re probably better off avoiding the new one, especially as it’s a good bet Apple will rectify this next year.

Full iPad 3 review next week

These are just our first impressions of the new iPad. This time next week we’ll have full test lab results, where we’ll find out:

- Does the new iPad still last 10 hours like the iPad 2?
- Is the colour saturation 44% better as Apple claims?
- How much faster is the new iPad compared to the iPad 2 and other tablets?

More on this…

Will you be buying the new iPad?

I don't have a tablet but I'm tempted (38%, 556 Votes)

I've got an iPad 1/2 and WON'T be upgrading (26%, 384 Votes)

I'm not interested in tablets (16%, 228 Votes)

I'd rather not buy an Apple tablet (12%, 171 Votes)

I've got an iPad 1/2 and WILL be upgrading (8%, 116 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,454

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7 comments

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James

Video is not viewable on an iPad. Come on, Which!

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John

Thanks for that. I’ve now read the Which? “What is a tablet?” Tablet buyers’ guide which mentions catch up TV. Video doesn’t seem to be mentioned at all – from your comment I take it that other tablets allow downloads of videos? Presumably this is all tied in with the dreaded iTunes and SOPA etc which mean very little to me.

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Andy Vandervell

James – we’re working on solution to this at the moment. Watch this space.

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Neil

I do not have a tablet but I am considering buying the new iPad. How do I vote?

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John

Just what I was wondering. Doh!

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Andy Vandervell

Fair point guys. I’ll add an option.

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Ian Hill

I’m happy with my iPad 1, and will probably spend a little money on upgrading my smartphone to an iPhone 4.

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