08 March, 2012

The New iPad

Apple launched the new iPad with their usual fanfare yesterday. That’s what they’re calling it. Not iPad 3. Not iPad HD. Just “the new iPad”. I’ve almost been turning into an Apple fanboy lately, having bought an iPad 2 for myself, for my wife, and an Apple TV in the last year.

So, I tuned in yesterday for the big announcement to see what all the hubbub was about. I must say I’m underwhelmed. I guess I’m going to have to give back my fanboy card.

What’s new?

  • A retina display, featuring 2048x1536 resolution. Well, I’m sure that’s nice and it’ll be pretty, but not once have I ever looked at my iPad 2 and thought to myself, “what I really need is four times the pixels”. I’m quite happy with the resolution of the model I have. I do take a lot of notes on my iPad, and that might make note taking easier. Certainly the drawing app they showed from Autodesk was impressive.
  • 4G LTE. Well, that had been one of the big rumors, and I must say I’m surprised to see Apple adding mobile phone technology to the iPad that’s not yet available in the iPhone. However, it costs more, and you pay a nice hefty monthly fee for the service. Sorry, but I’m not interested in that kind of price model, and unless this is something you have an active business need for, you shouldn’t be either. Amazon charges a little more for their Kindle with 3G, but no monthly service fees. That’s reasonable. Even the other way might be reasonable, with a discounted price, but modest service fees. What Apple and the mobile phone companies are trying to push on you isn’t remotely reasonable.
  • A better camera. Well, thank God for that. The camera on the iPad 2 is crap. I never use it. But I’m not sure that the reason I never use it is because it’s crap, or because a mobile phone is just a much better form factor for taking snapshots. I suspect it’s more the latter than the former.
  • Faster processor, better graphics processor. Yawn. Moore’s law.
  • iOS upgrades, upgrades to iWorks and iPhoto. Hmm. Looks like I can download all of these for my current iPad.

What isn’t new?

  • There’s still no USB port, or SD card slot.
  • Still painful to hook to a projector, or video screen unless it’s AirPlay enabled. If I’m a business traveler, I still need to take the laptop with me. Which begs the question of why I would even bother to bring the iPad.
  • Like everything else from Apple, it’s exorbitantly priced.
  • The two apps that I use the most on my iPad are probably Mail and Calendar. Mail is one step above crap, and the UI for it doesn’t even make that step. Probably the best thing you can say about Mail is that it doesn’t crash as often as Calendar and has most of the required functionality, unlike Calendar.
  • They still have that awful virtual keyboard. Well, it’s better than the one on the iPhone, but that’s not saying much.
  • The charging port is still non-standard USB and expects twice the current that the USB standard calls for. So, whenever I plug it into my computer I get “Not charging” (it is, actually, just slooooooooooooowly).
  • Despite the zillions of apps available, there’s just no good blogging tool. If I had to choose between getting a root canal and writing a long blog post on my iPad, I’d take the root canal. It’d be far less painful.
  • iWorks is nice, but I’m sure that I’m far from the only business user who has noticed that Pages and Numbers are not Word and Excel.

In short, there’s absolutely nothing about the new iPad that makes me want to rush out and upgrade. Worse for Apple, there’s nothing about the new iPad that would make me want to rush out and buy one if I hadn’t bought an iPad before now. If I was buying a new iPad today, I’d save $100 and just get a discounted iPad 2.

This is an incremental upgrade, nothing more. Worse, given their current release cycle, we’re looking at Q4 2013 before Apple releases anything better. The tablet space is too volatile for that pace of growth to be acceptable. Apple just opened the door for Google and Microsoft. It remains to be seen whether they’re capable of going through it.

Oh. One more thing.

Apple TV upgraded to 1080p? That’s it? Yes, there’s a new UI, but I downloaded that for my current Apple TV last night. I have both a Roku and an Apple TV, and other than AirPlay, the Roku is head and shoulders above Apple TV. And has a better UI. Apple closed the gap some with the new UI and 1080p, but they’re still behind here, not setting the pace.

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