On Wednesday Apple will pull the curtains back on its third-generation iPad with a list of new features only Apple knows for sure. With Apple's second-generation iPad, I'll be honest, I was not blown away. Aside from the iPad 2's reduction in size and weight, Apple hadn't gone far enough with updating its tablet. But on Wednesday three might be a charm for Apple's iPad. I have high hopes this time around.
Regardless of what this next iPad is called -- iPad 3, iPad HD -- I'm looking for Apple to advance how I can use the tablet. Here are the five features I'm looking for, in order of importance.
1. High-resolution display. As a photographer, a reader, and a general consumer of media, you will find no greater proponent for high-resolution tablet displays. The iPhone 4's Retina display spoiled me with its crisp, sharp text and gorgeous image reproduction, and there was no going back from that.
When I could see the visible dots in the text of the iPad 2, reading on that tablet felt like a comparatively dismal experience. The iPad 2's 1024 by 768 display made Android tablets with higher-resolution 1280 by 800 displays seem cutting edge. Android tablets have already gone further in the resolution race. At CES I was dazzled by first 1920 by 1280 pixel displays on Android slates. The improvement, compared to the iPad 2 and earlier Androids is visceral: text lacks pixilation and images and graphics pop off the screen.
Bring on the high-res display for iPad, rumored to be at 2048 by 1536 pixels, and let the visual feast begin.
2. Better quality camera and video. Upping the still and video camera quality on the next iPad to match what we have on the current iPhone 4S would be a huge benefit for iPad over its competition, and a huge benefit to consumers, too.
While I've heard many a tech pundit belittle the concept of using a big-screen tablet for photos and video, the truth is this that this is exactly how consumers are using the iPad or any tablet. I routinely see people using the tablet they have on hand--more often than not, an iPad 2--to take pictures or video. I've even seen college sports teams use an iPad to stream video of gymnastics competitions to the Web. None of this surprises, to be honest--the best camera you have is the one you happen to have with you when you want to get the shot. But iPad 2's still and video quality are subpar, to put it mildly.
3. Even lighter weight. The original iPad launched at 1.5 pounds. The iPad 2 debuted at 1.33 pounds. So it's not unreasonable to want, even expect, this next iPad to continue to shed weight. What I'd like to see on Wednesday is a 10-inch class iPad tablet--of which I consider the iPad's 9.7-inch display to be a part--that weighs-in at a pound. But in the meantime, I'll take any and every ounce that can be shaved off.
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