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New iPad wins rave reviews

Network World Staff | March 16, 2012
The first hands-on reviews of the new iPad make it clear not only that Apple keeps the tablet crown but why it continues to do so.

"For a five minute 720p HD clip, the iPad 2 took 5 minutes 11 seconds, whereas the new iPad took 3 minutes 39 seconds. A 5 minute 1080p HD clip on the new iPad took 4 minutes 20 seconds to export, still comfortably under the iPad 2 despite the higher resolution."

Battery life: still excellent

Announcing the new iPad, Apple promised users would see the same long battery life as with the previous models. The reviewers agree it delivers.

It's a critical achievement for Apple. Repeatedly, enterprise users have said that being able to use their iPads for up to 10 hours without having to worry about plugging into outlets was a major feature of the tablet, and one that distinguished it from laptops.

Mossberg's tests found that with the new screen, upgraded CPU and optional LTE "battery life degraded by just 11 minutes, a figure that is still much better than on any tablet I've tested."

"[A]fter dicking around on the web and email for close to two hours — all of it using LTE — battery life was still showing over 80 percent capacity," says John Gruber. "I'll leave comprehensive battery life testing to other reviewers, but anecdotally, the iPad 3's battery life seems indistinguishable from that of the iPad 2, even when using LTE. This alone strikes me as a remarkable engineering accomplishment."

Siegler agrees. He points out that Apple carried this off by means of a "fairly major breakthrough in their battery technology. While the new battery clearly isn't much bigger than the old one, it can hold much more juice (42 watt-hours versus 25-watt-hours)."

But he noticed two consequences. "I've found it takes quite a bit longer to charge the new iPad. As in several hours — you'll probably want to do it overnight," he writes. Secondly, the "new iPad does get noticeably warm in the lower left corner after prolonged use. It's never hot, just warm. But again, I never noticed this on other models."

LTE: "as a rock-solid Wi-Fi" link

Currently, there are separate new iPad models, one each for AT&T's version of LTE, and for Verizon Wireless' version. Where it's available, LTE performance is impressive. Almost as important, the new iPad supports more recent 3G upgrades that give a big boost to non-LTE cellular connections.

Macworld's Snell found the new iPad smoothly transitioned between the two. "While riding through the city, I was able to get speeds that were roughly as fast as my office Wi-Fi," he says. "When I turned off LTE (there's an "Enable LTE" option in the Cellular Data section of Settings), the iPad fell back to AT&T's "4G" HSPA+ network, and speeds dropped precipitously."


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