HDMI Output Disappoints; Camera Quality Impresses
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.
The iPad 3’s hard-wired video display output implementation grapples with mirroring issues tied to its 4:3 aspect ratio.
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.
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.
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.