Apple’s iPad launch hype has come and gone. A number of the speculations were proven wrong: there is no smaller iPad, there are no 3D glasses. In fact, the new iPad is essentially the same as before. There are, however, a few changes such as the high-resolution screen, fast LTE connectivity in the USA, and for some that’s all there is to the new iPad.
Wrong. The new iPad is a big deal, a very big deal. In fact, in many ways all the iPad competitors were just dealt another huge blow as Apple continues to forge the tablet market. The screen and LTE are both big deals, but two other key technology breakthroughs lurk under the sleek iPad cover.
Reason one: killer resolution
The most noticeable is the screen, with a resolution of 2048 by 1536. All those pixels available are hard to miss on 9.7 inches of screen. Apple marketing speak calls it a Retina Display or, per its website, “Resolutionary”.
Apple claims that the human eye cannot see the pixels, as long as you are 15 inches from the screen, and they are right. Once a retina display is experienced, such as the one on the iPhone 4, you just can’t go back. All other screens, no matter how bright or colourful, look fuzzy.
Without actually seeing the actual new iPad screen for myself, I have to accept the reports that the new iPad screen is incredibly sharp, with colour depth and accuracy that makes pictures, movies, books and games look incredible.
The big deal here is that Apple could actually cram all this screen goodness into the same price as the old iPad. Every other tablet manufacturer, and in fact laptops, as well as any other visual display devices, was just dealt a huge blow.
The resolution of the best HD TVs, and the vast majority of computer monitors (as well as laptops tops), out at 1920 by 1080, with many far below that, which is essentially four times less than the new iPad, all often at far higher prices. The bar has been firmly moved and all others are being found wanting.
Reason two: battery life
The second big deal about the new iPad, and one that has got very little press, is the massive increase in battery life and capacity, even with the notoriously power-hungry LTE radio chip built-in, as well as the massively upgraded screen.
Initial reports from all first generation LTE enabled smartphones have shown that using the new ultra-fast LTE networks in the USA results in massively reduced battery life. Battery life has become, for many of us, a new benchmark in usage, as to remain mobile you should have a comfortable working day of life from your mobile device.
Apple announced that the new iPad has essentially the same battery life as the old iPad of around nine hours with all the connectivity active. “So what?”, you might say, “everyone expected that would be the case”.
In fact, the new battery is a bit of a tech miracle. In essentially the same space as the old iPad battery, Apple has managed to increase the capacity by a massive 40% compared to the iPad 2, whilst keeping the battery almost exactly the same size.
The new iPad has a battery with a capacity of 11 666 mAh compared to the iPad 2’s of just 6 944 mAh, translated into real world terms, the new iPad should have enormous battery life — over 10 hours continuous use, especially if the battery hungry LTE facility is switched off (which it will be for many, as LTE will not work in a number of countries around the globe).
Once again Apple’s proprietary battery technology has rewritten the book for portable devices, and competitors once again need to scramble to catch up. The added bonus for Apple iPhone fans is that the next-gen iPhone will also use this breakthrough battery technology.
Reason three: Bluetooth 4
The third, and by no means least, of the key differentiators is that the new iPad has another new radio device; one many take for granted. But the new Bluetooth 4 radio in the new iPad is another game changer.
The new iPad is the first tablet to incorporate this latest development in Bluetooth connectivity. The critical improvement over the older versions of Bluetooth is the ability for Bluetooth 4 to sip power quite literally. Imagine not changing your Bluetooth keyboard batteries for around two years, or not having to charge your Bluetooth earpiece for at least six months.
Sounds great, but this is the least of what is possible. The other two key changes are simple and automatic pairing, using the NFC chips that are increasingly finding their way into everything, this protocol called Bluetooth Smart, means no more cryptic numbers and searching for devices. The other key change is a factor of 10 increase in data transfer speed, which will allow HD video streaming over Bluetooth.
At the recent CES in Las Vegas e-Health was a huge trend, with a rapidly aging population in the USA, and equally rapidly escalating costs making the remote monitoring of key health attributes (such as heart rate and blood pressure) vital for many.
New Bluetooth 4 devices, coupled with clever apps on an internet connected tablet, such as the new iPad, start making some real sense. Once these peripherals and sensors need only be charged every few years, all sorts of possibilities open up.
Another fascinating use would be the ability for fitness sensors like the Motorola Motoact or Nike Fuel band to upload all your training data to the iPad at high-speed over Bluetooth 4, all without any fiddling with cables or charging.
Your iPad would become an always-on Bluetooth hub in the home, for numerous sensors, all with a battery life of months and some for years. This makes the usage of these devices and sensors a no-brainer, as well as opening up a huge array of science fiction (like data capturing and control scenarios from health issues) to your app controlled intelligent home appliances.
The question remains is the new iPad magical in itself, and should you get one? The answer is not always simple. But if any, or all, of the above appeals to you in any way, the new iPad becomes a must-have device, and will set the bar for all those who are trying to compete, as well as for many who are actually busy creating complimentary technologies. Once again Apple has forged a new path in consumer technology and we expect the ripples to be felt for years to come.