New iPad Review: 3 Days With Apple's Hot Upgraded Tablet

The New IPad
The New IPad

All weekend I've been trying to come up with some glaring weakness in the new iPad. It's escaping me.

Outside of cost, which is sizable, the iPad was reported to do everything fans would expect. I decided to find out for myself.

Inspired by Apple's (AAPL) success with the previous generation iPads, I took my first bite. The new iPad -- my first real foray into the tablet market -- arrived at my door at 10 a.m. Friday. I've had three days to play with the device and hook it up to everything Apple in my home. Here's how it stacks up.

New Features

Since voice dictation is the biggest upgrade to the new iPad, I'm testing its functionality by using voice dictation to write most of this article.

Voice dictation
Voice dictation

Like Siri, voice dictation is a cool tool, but finding applications for it in your everyday life may be a stretch. Unless you're very averse to using the digital keypad or your fingers are a dirty mess, there aren't a lot of times when voice dictation will be easier than typing on the keyboard. But, it is a lot of fun to play with.

The display is just as good as Apple advertised. HD movies almost look better on the iPad than on a 50 inch TV. I did strain my eyes to try to pick out individual pixels and I can confirm they are there. But unless your face is within an inch or two of the screen you won't be able to see them.

The 5MP iSight camera is amazing, although it's lacking a flash. The built-in motion adjustment is a nice feature for taking movies and it even makes pictures cleaner. I never thought I would prefer shooting video with such a big screen, but in this case it's worth it.

Super-Sizing the Apple Experience

I wrote last week about how impressed I was with the Apple TV and the possibilities this device opens up. When the iPad and Apple TV are paired together, both are taken to a new level. Apps can be streamed straight to the Apple TV and the iPad can be used to control the Apple TV.

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This weekend, I watched a DJ mixing party music, played Angry Birds, and used FaceTime, all on the big screen. The combo really makes Apple the center of the living room, whether they intended it that way or not. It makes me wonder what may be in store if Apple does make a television as the rumors predict.

As an entertainment device and tool for everyday use, the iPad lives up to all of my expectations; the upgrades from the iPad 2 are just icing on the cake. It's no shock that Apple has another hit on its hands and I can't wait to see what the company comes up with next.

The new iPad is a phenomenal tool. But, as with every silver lining, it must contend with some cloud coverage.

What the New iPad Is Not

Like the earlier iPads, the new iPad is not a solution for everything and the latest features don't change that.

  • It's not cheap. The price is prohibitive. With a starting price of $499, the new iPad is going to be out of reach for a lot of people.

  • It doesn't necessarily replace anything in the home. It's more of an accessory than a computer replacement.

  • The upgrades aren't a great leap forward by Apple's standards. Sure, the screen is crisper, the camera is better, and the processor is faster, but it's not like the iPad 2 was a slouch. The real improvement may come when developers begin accessing the power these features hold.

Despite the platform being two years old, developers are just starting to open a world of iPad possibilities. As more devices get out into the market, the number of ways the iPad will be used will continue to multiply. This is where I think the iPad will shine, whether you're operating with version 1, 2, or 3.

So is it worth the fuss? If you can afford it -- or if you can use the iPad in a productive way -- absolutely. But it isn't worth upgrading from an iPad 2, at least based on my experience so far.

Motley Fool contributor Travis Hoium manages an account that owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Autodesk and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple.


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