The 3rd generation iPad announcement didn't contain any big surprises except for the name, which was left simply as "iPad" without the generational numbering system we've become accustomed to with previous releases. But the lack of surprises doesn't mean there isn't a lot of new firepower in the newest iPad. In fact, it might be the most significant upgrade since the original was released in 2010.
But should you upgrade to the iPad 3rd gen?
If You Own the Original iPad, You Will Want This Device
For those who were early adopters of the iPad but didn't step up to the iPad 2, now is a great time to upgrade. The new iPad is a significant boost from the iPad 2, and when compared to the original iPad, it's like a sleek racing horse compared to a mule. The newer versions of the iPad also contain front-facing and back-facing cameras, with the 3rd generation iPad sporting a 5 MP iSight back-facing camera capable of capturing 1080p HD video.
The 3rd generation iPad is four times faster than the original and has a display capable of four times the detail of the original. The original iPad also only has 256 MB of memory reserved for running applications, compared to 512 MB for the newer models. This means the original iPad will slow down faster and not multitask as well, possibly even having some apps not available at all in the future.
There's really only one downside to upgrading to the newest iPad from the original: You won't get as much trying to sell your original iPad, though I am sure there will be plenty of interest for it.
For iPad 2 Owners, the Choice Is Between Good and Better
Owners of the iPad 2 will have a much more difficult decision on their hands. The new display is very tempting, with more than 2 million new pixels packed into a screen that actually has more detail than a 1080p HDTV. And the new 5 MP iSight camera is capable of capturing 1080p video, so you will definitely get some use out of it.
But let's face it, most of us aren't shooting a lot of video with our iPad. The new display is great, but if you mainly use the device to surf the web, browse Facebook and check Email, you might not ever notice a big difference between the two. The biggest two areas you will notice the difference is in video playback from apps like Netflix or Hulu Plus and gaming, which will see a nice explosion of games with enhanced graphics.
Is the new iPad worth upgrading from the iPad 2?
If you plan on using that back-facing camera to shoot 1080p video and subsequently edit it in iMovie, you'll want to upgrade. There's no real comparison between the rather poor quality of the iPad 2 back-facing camera and the new camera in the 3rd generation iPad.
If you are interested in doing a lot of photo editing with your iPad, or even using the iPad as a canvas for your own creations, the new iPad is going to be a good upgrade. Along with greater detail from the 2048x1536 resolution, the display also increases the saturation rate by 44%, allowing colors to really explode off the screen.
If you primarily use the iPad for games like Infinity Blade and Real Racing 2, you may not need to upgrade, but you will definitely want to upgrade. The 3rd generation iPad has a higher resolution than an 1080p HDTV, which means the graphics can be shown in more detail than those coming from a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 3. This doesn't meant the games will be as good as those on the console, which not only have more space for data but also more horsepower for advanced rendering techniques, but the new iPad is definitely closing the gap.
If you plan on buying the new Apple TV, upgrading to the 3rd generation iPad will create a great partnership. Apple TV is the best way to connect your iPad to your TV, with Airplay Display Mirroring ensuring that whatever you see on your iPad, you see on your HDTV. You'll be able to watch iPad video in 1080p quality on your TV and add a new dimension to games like Ducati Challenge HD, which supports dual screen gaming where the iPad is the controller and your TV is where all the action happens.
But even if you watch a lot of video on your iPad, if you don't fall into one of these qualities, you may want to wait on upgrading your iPad 2. The video playback on the iPad 3 is beautiful, but the iPad 2 already does a great job. And for most people, the iPad is used for web surfing, checking email and playing casual games, all of which the iPad 2 will do as well as the iPad 3.
I really want to upgrade, but I can't afford $499
If you already own an iPad, you have a great way to help finance the new iPad. The best way to go about this is to check with friends and family for potential buyers and then hit a website like Craigslist or eBay, but if the prospect of selling it on the web directly to another person seems to intimidating, you can always go with a trade-in program.
Amazon offers the best value in trade-in programs, with a "like new" iPad 2 16 GB WiFi-only model fetching $320, but it should be noted that this is credit for future Amazon purchases. And since Amazon doesn't sell the iPad, you can't use the money directly on your upgrade. Alternatively, you can check out Radio Shack's trade-in program, though you won't get quite as much value out of the exchange.
iPad 2 vs iPad 3 Comparison Chart:
|Feature||iPad 2||iPad 3|
|CPU:||Dual-Core Apple A5||Dual-Core Apple A5X|
|Graphics:||PowerVR SGX543MP2||PowerVR SGX543MP4|
|Memory:||512 MB||1 GB|
|Storage:||16, 32, 64 GB||16, 32, 64 GB|
|Camera:||FaceTime Front-facing and 720p rear-facing||FaceTime Front-facing and iSight 5 MP 1080p rear-facing|
|Data Rate:||3G||4G LTE|
|Wi-Fi:||802.11 a/b/g/n||802.11 a/b/g/n|
|Bluetooth:||2.1 + EDR||4.0|
|Siri:||NO||Voice Dictation Only|
|GPS:||3G Version Only||3G Version Only|