The New iPad: Reviewed

As the embargo lifted last night, the Internet was greeted with a deluge of iPad reviews. Here are some of the most key excerpts:

Jim Dalrymple:

struggled after the event to put the right words together to describe the display and a week later I’m still lost for the proper analogy. The only thing I can think of that comes close is comparing it to the first time you ever saw an HDTV. Remember how startling it was to go from one of those giant standard definition projector TVs to an HDTV? That’s what this is like.

John Gruber:

Pixels pixels pixels. Battery battery battery. Speed speed speed.

That’s the new iPad, a.k.a. (for comparison’s sake) the iPad 3. The retina display, significantly faster graphics, and the potential for startlingly fast cellular networking — all with the same renowned battery life (and standby time) as the original iPad and iPad 2.

Joshua Topolsky:

Let's be clear: the new iPad is in a class by itself, just as its predecessor was. As the latest product in a lineage of devices that defined this category, the iPad continues to stand head and shoulders above the competition. With the addition of the Retina display, LTE, more memory, and a more powerful CPU, Apple has absolutely held onto the iPad's market position as the dominant player and product to beat.

M.G. Siegler:

And because the new iPad looks largely the same at the iPad 2 from an industrial design perspective, many were lulled into believing that Apple was getting complacent. Let me be clear: the new iPad is a huge technological leap forward. It has by far the best screen I’ve ever seen anywhere and it’s something I can hold in my hand and touch and use for 10 hours at a time.

Walt Mossberg:

I've been testing the new iPad, and despite these trade-offs, its key improvements strengthen its position as the best tablet on the market. Apple hasn't totally revamped the iPad or added loads of new features. But it has improved it significantly, at the same price.

The central thrust of the reviews is (unsurprisingly) that the Retina display is rather unbelievable to behold. Aside from that, many warn that the increases are iterative and that the iPad 2 is still a valid product for many, but all such warnings come with the sizable caveats of the Retina display and LTE.

While I certainly respect the decision to purchase an iPad 2 at the lowered price point, it seems to me that a tablet - much like a television - is governed by the picture quality that protrudes from its display. The tablet experience is similarly characterized by the image quality and the responsiveness of the software. With the iPad 2, the software is wonderfully responsive and capable but, with the new iPad, the performance is coupled with, in the words of Joshua Topolsky, an "outrageous," "incredible," "stunning" display. Perhaps the form factor is largely unchanged, but I would argue that the most important component of the experience has been improved on a multitudinous scale.

Over the course of the next few weeks, as Retina-enabled apps slowly trickle into the App Store, I imagine the true significance of the Retina display will become readily apparent for even the most staunch holdouts.