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A rundown of the Apple tablet's key features
The new tablet's CPU is Apple's A5X system-on-a-chip (SOC), a dual-core processor like the A5 in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S. But it's got an integrated quad-core graphics processing unit, which has four times the graphics oomph as the NVIDIA Tegra 3, Apple says. The A5X also has an image signal processor for the improved rear-facing camera.
New: improved rear-facing camera
Called iSight, the new camera has a 5-megapixel sensor, a sophisticated five-element lens (shown: exploded view) with infrared filter (which creates more accurate, uniform colors), an image signal processor built into the new A5X CPU, bigger aperture for brighter images. Records 1080p video for the first time on iPad.
Many observers, relying on rumors, expected a full implementation of the iPhone 4S Siri Voice Assistant. But Apple opted instead just for Siri's voice dictation, indicated by a new microphone icon in the lower left of the virtual keyboard. Tap the icon, speak while iPad listens and turns your spoken words into text for emails, text messages, Web searches. It works with third-party apps like Facebook and Twitter.
New: The display
Existing iPad apps will run without changes and without compromise on the new iPad. The new screen has 40% better color saturation than iPad 2, according to Apple. Saturation is the "colorfulness of a color relative to its own brightness," so the most saturated color looks the purest.
The new iPad
Apple’s unveiling on March 7 of the highly anticipated "new iPad" (no "3" or "HD") revealed big changes: a hugely improved screen, a modestly improved CPU, a big boost in graphics processing, and support for LTE cellular data networks. Here's a closer look at what's new, unchanged and still missing.
New: Bluetooth 4.0
Apple was the first company to introduce the latest version of Bluetooth, on iPhone 4S and MacBook and Mac Mini. Perhaps the key change with 4.0 is its extremely low power demand. Technically, the new iPad is what the Bluetooth SIG calls a "Bluetooth Smart Ready" device: the 4.0 radio can talk with devices that use earlier Bluetooth versions, and talk with new "Bluetooth Smart" devices that have a 4.0 radio that can only talk to another 4.0 radio (this latter group will be small, battery-powered smart sensors and the like).
New: The display
The new iPad screen doubles the resolution of iPad 2's in the same 9.7-inch (diagonal) display: 2048 x 1536 pixels, a total of 3.1 million pixels (or four times the number for iPad 2), and a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch. That makes it a "Retina Display" where the human eye cannot make out individual pixels. Shown: more pixels than a 1080p high-def TV.
Unchanged: Battery life
As with iPad 2, this is a big deal: high definition screen, CPU and GPU boosts, LTE are all potentially power hungry. Apple promises that new iPad will get the same battery life as iPad 2: 10 hours, including 9 hours of LTE (or 3G for iPad 2) connectivity. The new iPad includes a more powerful battery: 42.5-watthour, rechargeable lithium-polymer battery versus 25 watthours for iPad 2.
iOS apps: iPhoto
The new photo app is iPhoto ($4.99), part of the iLife apps suite, all reworked for the new iPad high-res screen. The new iPhoto makes the tablet a far more effective tool for taking, manipulating, managing, and sharing photos. Shown: touch "brushes" that let you edit, adjust, tweak your photos.
Unchanged: Form factor
Technically, the new iPad is minutely thicker and heavier than iPad 2. But it's almost undetectable. The Wi-Fi model is 9.50 by 7.31 x 0.37 inches, weighing 1.44 pounds. Adding 4G, adds 0.02 ounces of weight. By contrast, iPad 2 is: 9.50 x 7.31 x 0.34 inches, 1.33 pounds for Wi-Fi; and weighs 1.34 pounds when you add 3G.
New: LTE, and faster 3G
The new iPad is the first to support LTE data connectivity, with peak throughput in theory of 73Mbps. Apple will sell two iPad LTE versions, one for AT&T, one for Verizon Wireless. But the new iPad also supports much faster 3G speeds: theoretical peak download speeds of up to 42Mbps for DC-HSDPA, and up to 21.1Mbps for HSPA+. By contrast, iPad 2 maxes out at 3.1Mbps on EV-DO, and 7.2Mbps on HSPA.
Unchanged: Storage and price
Apple kept the internal storage options (no 128GB model) and the model prices unchanged. For the Wi-Fi models: 16GB, $499; 32GB, $599; 64GB, $699. LTE adds $130 to each of those. Still no USB or other expandable memory options. Still available: iPad 2, with a $100 price cut.
New: iOS 5.1
The new OS release has various changes, most on the small side, though important, such as bug fixes to improve battery life in iPhone 4S. There are also new camera-related features, and a redesigned Camera app. TV and movies will sound clearer and louder. The real payoff: running new apps designed to fully exploit the new display.
+ Adobe Flash. Get over it.
+ USB. Keep hoping. Maybe the next new iPad?
+ MicroSD card slot. 16, 32, 64 GIGAbytes. Get it?
+ Near-field communications (NFC). Still reigning as the world's most over-hyped, forever-almost-ready technology, touted as the key to using your phone as a digital wallet. But new iPad users will have to keep buying stuff the old-fashioned way: with plastic.
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