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Apple's iPad 3, Part 1: The Complete Retina Display And A5X Review

Apple's iPad 3, Part 1: The Complete Retina Display And A5X Review
By , Alan Dang

Apple's third-generation iPad hit the market last week, and we're impressed. Sporting a new 9.7" Retina display, the iPad 3 sports the most gorgeous display that we've seen on a tablet. Join us for the first part of our iPad 3 coverage.

This is in Bakersfield, CA, mind you.This is in Bakersfield, CA, mind you.

On Friday, most people in the world awoke and went about their normal routines. But a fevered few—the truly hardcore believers—instead abandoned their plans, rescheduled meetings, skipped classes, called-in sick, and joined the mad rush to buy the new iPad 3. Was it worth the trouble? Well, that depends on who you ask. The iPad 3 is a near duplicate in looks and size of its predecessor (which is why Gizmodo was able to fool a few into believing an iPad 2 was an iPad 3), causing some to question the hype. Yet, for those who really know what they're shopping for, the iPad 3 delivers.

The iPad 3 is slightly heavier than its predecessor. On our shipping scale, the actual weight comes out to 660 grams, or 1.45 lb. That's 10% heavier than the iPad 2 3G (600 grams/1.31 lb.), reminding us that holding the original iPad became tiresome after a few hours. We're not pleased with the added weight, but examining this device's physical attributes will have to wait for a more in-depth review to follow.

Apple iPad 3: Features Explained

In the meantime, let's cut the lights and roll the highlight reel. The video above sums up everything. Unveiled by Apple a couple of weeks back, the iPad 3 has four key selling points over the iPad 2:

  • A new "HD" Retina Display
  • Improved graphics performance
  • 5 MP rear camera
  • 4G LTE mobile broadband networking


Personally, the relatively low screen resolution of previous tablets has always been a bit of a turn-off. However, the iPad 3 display is the exact opposite, delivering a whopping 2048x1536 resolution and 264 pixels per inch on the same 9.7" screen as before. The result: an exceptionally crisp display, particularly well-suited for viewing pictures and watching movies. The display is unquestionably superior—but how much so? Let's dig deeper.

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Top Comments
  • 27 Hide
    acerace , March 19, 2012 5:51 AM
    Quote:
    love apple ..................... crap android *** copy tabs and phones


    Fail troll.
  • 23 Hide
    tomfreak , March 19, 2012 5:22 AM
    the requirement to use adapter to use usb and sd card = minus 50% score for any tablet. Period.
  • 22 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , March 19, 2012 7:34 AM
    Tomfreakthe requirement to use adapter to use usb and sd card = minus 50% score for any tablet. Period.


    My thoughts exactly. I don't care that it outputs 3x FPS over Transformer Prime; the latter can actually integrate into my devices' ecosystem and that's what matters. I'm not buying any tablet or phone without inbuilt memory card reader.
Other Comments
  • 14 Hide
    Anonymous , March 19, 2012 5:10 AM
    Would an alternate browser affect image display at all?
  • 23 Hide
    tomfreak , March 19, 2012 5:22 AM
    the requirement to use adapter to use usb and sd card = minus 50% score for any tablet. Period.
  • 1 Hide
    joytech22 , March 19, 2012 5:45 AM
    On the CPU and GPU performance page, there's a typo.

    When comparing the three iPads, the iPad 2 and iPad 3 are both said to be using PowerVR SGX545 GPUs (core-count is correct) while the table below it comparing SoCs the models are completely different and listed as SGX543.

    I smell something fishy, dinner must almost be ready! :D 
  • 27 Hide
    acerace , March 19, 2012 5:51 AM
    Quote:
    love apple ..................... crap android *** copy tabs and phones


    Fail troll.
  • -9 Hide
    Tc17 , March 19, 2012 6:01 AM
    I have a bridge to sell you if you believe this retina nonsense, on a tiny 10" screen.
  • 22 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , March 19, 2012 7:34 AM
    Tomfreakthe requirement to use adapter to use usb and sd card = minus 50% score for any tablet. Period.


    My thoughts exactly. I don't care that it outputs 3x FPS over Transformer Prime; the latter can actually integrate into my devices' ecosystem and that's what matters. I'm not buying any tablet or phone without inbuilt memory card reader.
  • 7 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , March 19, 2012 7:34 AM
    Though, of course, it's really sad that Apple is beating Asus on the graphics front. Really, really sad.
  • 20 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , March 19, 2012 7:40 AM
    tc17I have a bridge to sell you if you believe this retina nonsense, on a tiny 10" screen.


    After playing around with most hi-end Android devices AND iPhone 4S/iPad 2, I happen to believe this "nonsense". Everything looks so much more hi-res... but that's only Android's fault. When are they going to fix the menu animation lag and make everything more hi-res? ICS kind of did a good job on it, though, and now it actually looks NOTHING like iOS and is beautiful.

    Of course, the menu animation lag and low-res icons can't make me shift to Apple, especially now that I run ICS on my netbook (try that, Apple... oh wait, your toy MacOS IS already like a tablet OS, lol) - same way that MacOS's ability to take screenshots of a selected area of the screen can't make me shift from Windows/Ubuntu. It's just not nearly enough to compensate for the important features I'll lose. Sure enough, there're tons of people to whom all of them don't matter and they'll just go with the most hyped thing out there, but I prefer to know what I'm paying for. It's a habit that pays off on the long run.
  • -2 Hide
    killerchickens , March 19, 2012 8:06 AM
    I wish toms would stop using the bs retina display term considering the ipad 3's display isn't even close to the original standard.
  • 11 Hide
    bernardv , March 19, 2012 9:27 AM
    2048x1536 on a 10" screen? This is a joke, 0 value to 99.9% of end users. A fanboy excuse for throwing money away.

    The author comments it is suitable for watching movies. Which movie is even available in such a resolution??? For watching movies in your lap on 10", 720p is more than enough.
  • 4 Hide
    acku , March 19, 2012 9:30 AM
    joytech22On the CPU and GPU performance page, there's a typo.When comparing the three iPads, the iPad 2 and iPad 3 are both said to be using PowerVR SGX545 GPUs (core-count is correct) while the table below it comparing SoCs the models are completely different and listed as SGX543.I smell something fishy, dinner must almost be ready!


    Typo, fixed.
  • 4 Hide
    robot_army , March 19, 2012 9:39 AM
    I was wondering what the resolution used by each of the units was on the graphics tests? does the benchmark use a set resolution for each test, or the native screen res? i guess looking at the 720P results offer a set resolution, but i was wondering if the ipad 3 was runing the graphics at the full resolution of the screen given the textures and games were disigned to run on a lower res screen??
  • 5 Hide
    acku , March 19, 2012 9:44 AM
    There's an astrick in that table indicating native resolution for the nonoffscreen tests.

    Cheers,
    Andrew Ku
  • 6 Hide
    acku , March 19, 2012 10:02 AM
    Tomfreakthe requirement to use adapter to use usb and sd card = minus 50% score for any tablet. Period.

    This would rule out the galaxy tab 10.1, as it also uses adapters.
  • 3 Hide
    robot_army , March 19, 2012 10:06 AM
    Thanks, but the reason i ask is the new ipad has about 50-60% gain Vs the 2, but at native resolution has 4x the number of pixels to work on, yet still managed to hit its 60 FPS target, does that mean the ipad 2 wasn't being streched in its test? ie it was just rendering at 60FPS as that was the limit of the display?
  • 12 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , March 19, 2012 10:11 AM
    ackuThis would rule out the galaxy tab 10.1, as it also uses adapters.


    Agreed, I was NOT happy when I noticed that Samsung decided to follow that stupid trend.
  • -6 Hide
    mrpijey , March 19, 2012 10:45 AM
    I am more than happy to not have the ports on pad. I can do just fine with the built in memory, and I don't need USB or other connectivity. And if I so happen to need it once or twice a year an adapter works just fine. All these built in slots also makes the unit thicker, adding to the weight and reducing the space for more important stuff, such as battery etc.

    But all of us have different needs so I am not saying it's bad with memory slots and USB ports, but personally I can do just fine without them, so for me iPad "3" is a win-win. I skipped iPad 2 since I felt it wasn't a good enough upgrade from iPad 1 (don't need camera, and speed was decent enough). But with this excellent screen AND better performance (compared to iPad 1) and the reduced weight and thickness (again, compared to my iPad 1) I feel I get enough good new stuff to warrant the expense.

    And personally I don't like the current messy state of Android so iOS works just fine for me. Again, my personal opinion so you trolls and haters can go back under the rock where you came from.

    And I wrote this using my Galaxy Tab.
  • -3 Hide
    rex86 , March 19, 2012 11:00 AM
    So they beefed up the GPU, added more RAM, increased the pps almost twice from the previous version, and added 4G support. But they had to increase the battery capacity almost twice, which makes their product one big green FAIL.

    I recommend them spend their $100 bil. USD for example developing more power efficient and powerful technologies, because this is going nowhere. What's next? Battery the size of a truck?
  • 4 Hide
    how2harry , March 19, 2012 11:15 AM
    I definitely see the appeal of a hi-res screen in a portable device and this feature alone I think will make this product a success and also seriously tempting to me.
    I had the idea of setting up a local DNS and web-server. With some simple HTML5 pages I could then serve all my media library to the device (HD videos, images, music etc). This would be one way round the ipad storage and connectivity limitations.
    (Not sure if Safari can go 'full screen' on the ipad that would help with this though?)
    I was shocked then to read "Safari, does not display high-resolution pictures in their native format."
    I wonder if then if this has been done intentionally to cripple media access to the device through the browser? I wonder if this applies to hd video too? If so I really hope that apple are not that anal and do make a fix for upcoming releases. Then I could have the best of both worlds:) 
  • 4 Hide
    ojas , March 19, 2012 11:18 AM
    hey i just discovered a few days ago that PassMark Performance Test is available (free) for iOS and Android. See if you guys can run it and post the benchmark's results.

    Don't use the "scores" though, they're Apple biased. Tell us the actual numbers, they seemed to be fair.

    i had fun seeing my iPod's A4 doing 66 MFLOPS...and then thinking that my Core 2 Quad does 40 GFLOPS :D 
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