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The Complete iPad 3 Review: Retina Display, A5X, 4G LTE, And Camera

HDMI Output Disappoints; Camera Quality Impresses

HDMI Output

The iPad 3's native image quality shines, but it isn't able to translate that to video output quality. All of the issues we complained about a year ago on the iPad 2 remain.

The iPad 3 still offers no dongle-based wireless video output option, forcing us to pack Apple’s Digital AV Adapter to business meetings. (Airplay allows you to wirelessly mirror but it requires Apple TV.) Qualcomm's Wireless Display demo at MWC 2012 gives us hope that a power-friendly solution is on the horizon, but it may be another year before we see the technology emerge on next-generation tablets.

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Output to PC Monitor

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Output to HDTV

The iPad 3’s hard-wired video display output implementation grapples with mirroring issues tied to its 4:3 aspect ratio.

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Keyboard Cloning

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H.264 movie

Apple’s Digital AV Adapter allows only HDMI-connected video output from the iPad 3. Restricting video output to 1080p resolution, HDMI video output delivers a mirrored 4:3 image upscaled to 1080p. What's missing is an option to disable mirroring and enable native 1080p output to an external display.

The current mirroring implementation also needs an overhaul. With the iPad 3, mirroring is disabled only if you watch a full-screen 16:9 movie. Everything else is viewed in 4:3 format, eliminating the advantage of a 16:9 display entirely. Further, Apple's solution puts the iOS keyboard on both screens simultaneously. Ideally, it should be displayed only on the tablet when docked, facilitating a cleaner full-screen image on the external screen.

Camera Quality

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As a device for viewing high-resolution digital photographs, the iPad 3 is fantastic. And the tablet’s upgraded rear-facing sensor rivals some standalone point-and-shoot cameras.

The front-facing sensor is still a fairly weak .3 MP. However, the iPad 2's grainy and fuzzy .7 MP rear-facing camera is gone, replaced by a 5 MP Omnivision OV5650, which was used on the iPhone 4. Improved though the camera may be, though, we still can't help but chuckle when we see someone holding an iPad out in front of them, snapping pictures.

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Omnivision's sensor received a detailed analysis when we compared the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 4S. Seen in the close-up macro shots above, the 5 MP sensor generates excellent images of well-lit stationary subjects. Image quality suffers in low light conditions, blurring is evident from moving subjects, and lens flare occurs if you shoot toward a light source. But those caveats also apply to a majority of point-and-shoot cameras, too.

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  • tomfreak
    lol FAIL hard when I see keyboard are displayed on TV as well despite being docked and to make thigns worst one still need to carry the adapter around to plug HDMI......
    Reply
  • confish21
    Really a solid tablet. Just wish the adapter and outrageous bills could disappear... Great Review!

    100 degrees is damn hot but I think the results are justified.
    Reply
  • confish21
    its cool if I lick my finger for page turning right?
    Reply
  • hardcore_gamer
    I'm waiting for an x86- Windows 8 tablet.
    Reply
  • aicom
    Tomfreaklol FAIL hard when I see keyboard are displayed on TV as well despite being docked and to make thigns worst one still need to carry the adapter around to plug HDMI......+1 to the keyboard thing. But remember that most tablets (all?) don't have full size HDMI so you probably need a dongle 99% of the time anyway.
    Reply
  • tomfreak
    HDMI port is not very thick, I still wonder whats keeping them from putting in on tablet.
    Reply
  • Maziar
    Great article! very detailed.
    Reply
  • aicom
    TomfreakHDMI port is not very thick, I still wonder whats keeping them from putting in on tablet.The port isn't all that's needed. There's also a bit of hardware around it for the socket that makes it a tad thicker and a stretch to fit in the chasis of tablets.
    Reply
  • alchemy69
    "Typically, you're looking at a tablet from less than a foot away"

    Really?
    Reply
  • tomfreak
    aicomThe port isn't all that's needed. There's also a bit of hardware around it for the socket that makes it a tad thicker and a stretch to fit in the chasis of tablets.looks like we gonna wait wide adoption for mini display port for TV then.
    Reply