Less than two years after the launch of Apple's iPad, its third avatar is here, though it is simply called the New iPad - with an accompanying price cut in the price of the iPad2.
In India, the 16GB wi-fi only iPad2 that was available at Rs 29,900 is now down to Rs 24,900, while the top-end 64GB wi-fi + 3G model is down from Rs 46,900 to Rs 44,900. Meanwhile, the new iPad is yet to arrive in India and might take a while.
Should one wait for the new one or go for the older at a bargain price? Before we address that question, here's a look at the new iPad that has a higher-resolution screen, a faster processor, a 5 mega-pixel camera and 4G/LTE (long-term evolution) connectivity that zips songs and videos at amazing speeds.
More Pixels: The new iPad comes with a retina display, has a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch, twice as good as the iPad2. The new iPad's picture is sharper and more vivid, and the screen is better whether you are viewing photos, reading text or watching movies.
The new ipad supports a full high-definition (HD) movie rendering - something its predecessor cannot do.
4th Generation (4G) wireless connectivity: This is a feature that may not matter to us in India. We are still entangled in the march from controversial 2G to emerging 3G. Third generation rollout is not yet complete across India and 4G auctions are months away and services still further. It makes sense to remember that iPad2 supports 3G. I will not bank on 4G being the reason for Indians to purchase the new iPad.
5 megapixel rear camera: Until my recent trip to Thailand, I used to wonder how anyone could use an iPad to click pictures. I was wrong. I saw many tourists shoot photos and make videos with the device. After all, the ease of sharing it from an iPad, be it emailing or putting stuff up on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, makes a lot of sense. The 5 MP camera in the new model makes a lot of sense to me. But I am still not sure if I will ever pick up the iPad to shoot a video or take photos.
Faster processor: If you are a speed junkie who uses the fullest processing power, the new iPad's quad core graphics and faster dual-core processor may make sense to you. The higher processing power is also useful if you edit music using Garage Band, photos (using iPhoto) or movies (with iMovie). Naturally, faster processors are also good-to-go for newer games. However, if you are going to use the tablet for reading, browsing or playing simple games, the faster processor is not really a big draw.
Now for the big question: what does this mean for Indians? It took ten months for the first iPad to get here, and there is no news yet from Apple on when the new gizmo will hit Indian shores - though the second iPad landed in India within six weeks of the US launch.
My guess is that the new iPad will also land within six weeks - which means around the first week of May.
While we wait, it does seem that the price cut in the iPad2 model makes it more worth it now - it remains the best among its peers.
But remember that if you buy the iPad outside the country, Apple's warranted service is not available here.
Overall, it is important to note that iPad has a rich app (application) environment, with more than 200,000 written specifically for the iPad and its larger screen. There are apps for education, entertainment creativity and business, besides, of course, newspaper and magazine apps.
And yes, there are India-specific iPad apps. Several newspapers (including Hindustan Times and Mint), magazines such as Good Housekeeping and TV apps such as Mundu are available for Indians, though some involve subscription. My favourite Indian app is Quillpad Touch that lets you write in Hindi. It allows for automatic joining of consonants and autocompletes Hindi words.
Samsung is a worthy rival to Apple, but on account of a relative lack of apps for its screen sizes and due to a certain lack of wholesomeness in user experience, it lags Apple, while Microsoft's Windows is yet to produce a real challenger though versions are available today. Google's Android platform has also produced dozens of rivals but the iPad remains by far the king.