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New iPad: To buy or not to buy

It’s out, it’s called just the iPad (unfortunate), the pre-orders response is ‘off the charts’, it’s going to sell in the millions, it’s quite a piece of hardware and the world awaits release dates in their country. But far more than the specs, features and the looks – the water is muddied with some really tough questions. Rajiv Makhni writes

brunch Updated: Mar 17, 2012 17:08 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times

It’s out, it’s called just the iPad (unfortunate), the pre-orders response is ‘off the charts’, it’s going to sell in the millions, it’s quite a piece of hardware and the world awaits release dates in their country. But far more than the specs, features and the looks – the water is muddied with some really tough questions.

The new iPad looks the same as an iPad 2 and comes in the same two colours. So, your bragging rights are done for

Was the new iPad worth the wait? Is the retina screen enough to make this the next big thing? Is this an essential purchase? What if you have an iPad 1 or 2 – should you buy it then? What if you have some other Tablet, is the new iPad compelling enough to jump ship? Is the reduced price iPad 2 the better bang for one’s buck? What’s the biggest competition to the iPad now, and most importantly – should you get one right now from the US?

Top 5 reasons to buy

Radical Retina: The retina screen is a very big deal. Very! It’s at a stunning and unprecedented resolution of 2048 x 1536 with 3.1 million pixels (that’s a million more than your high def TV). Movies, photos, browsing, ebooks will all look like they’ve been painstakingly painted onto the screen. A Tablet is mostly a content consumption device and that’s done mainly through the screen. If the most important element has surpassed everything else the market has to offer – then it’s a major deal maker.

Quad Quagmire: Apple uses superlatives quite liberally in most of their product announcements. Which can sometimes lead to extreme confusion. It referred to its new processor as having quad-core graphics and repeatedly bench-marked themselves to be 4 (quad) times faster than the NVIDIA Tegra 3 (which is a quad core chip). This leads to a complete quad-core quagmire. The processor is an A5X, which is dual core, but the graphics do run at quad-core and suffice to say this is a Tablet all ready for anything anyone can throw at it. Smooth, blazing fast performance now and in the future is guaranteed.

Gaming Console Eliminator:

It’s got the most incredible screen for gaming, it’s got horsepower inside equivalent to a PS3 and a XBOX 360, it’s got a graphic chip that can do magic. Imagine gaming on this little beauty. Now take that imagination further. The announcement of a Bluetooth controller has happened and rumours of a wireless connector to an HDTV are up in the air. That would make the new iPad a portable gaming system and a full gaming console.

No Siri but Still: There are many conspiracy theories around why Siri isn’t on the new iPad. From those that claim this is to push iPhone sales (Want Siri – get it only on the iPhone), to overloaded servers (too many users of Siri already) to commission grabbing from service providers (most people will use Siri on iPad with WiFi but Siri on iPhone with a data connection). Whatever the reason – don’t forget that the new iPad has dictation, and from early reports, it’s the first time that simple straightforward easy dictation works every single time. That’s a biggie!

Movies, photos, ebooks will all look like they’ve been painted onto the iPad screen

You don’t own a Tablet / have an iPad 1:

If you have an iPad 1 and were waiting it out over the iPad 2, get the new iPad – it’ll run circles around the first one. If you don’t own a Tablet at all – get the new iPad – it’s your reward for sitting on the fence on Tablets till now – and you won’t get a better start.

Top 5 Reasons not to buy

The Cannot Camera: The pictures on that retina screen will look good. The back camera is now 5 megapixels, has auto face-detection, auto focus lock and image stabilisation for 1080p video. All good! It’s just that you’ll feel like a complete prat holding up an iPad to take pictures. Apple should have given a state-of-the-art camera on the front instead of the back and made this the first HD video conferencing system in a box. Now that would have been revolutionary.

Wireless Wonder: The new iPad has more wireless bands than any other device and the most exciting is the 4G LTE. This can whiz at speeds upto 73mbps and you can also use the new iPad as a Personal Hotspot. Great. Except we aren’t anywhere near 4G in India to take advantage of any of this, and even 3G carries on being frightfully expensive. Also picking up an iPad from the US may bring some LTE issues when in India; as the first lots are rumoured to work only in North America. So 4G and LTE on your brand new iPad may well be a disincentive for now.

The Look: It looks just the same as an iPad 2 (a little thicker and heavier) and comes in the same two colours. Thus your instant bragging rights are pretty much done for. Nobody on sight is going to come running up to you and ask in a breathless gushy whisper, “Is that the new iPad”? And for many that may well be the biggest deal breaker of them all. If you can’t chest-thump about your new iPad, then what is life all about?

The Competition: The world has changed since the iPad 1 and 2 were released. At that time it was a one horse race – now the competition has tasted success and is hungry for more. From smaller sizes, more portable machines, aggressive pricing, amazing hybrid designs, 18 to 20 hour battery life, stainless steel brushed finish, side-by-side apps being opened on the same screen and copy paste between the two apps and a device that can do duty as a phone, Tablet and Notebook – the competition is on absolute fire. See the Top 5 competitors (check out the box).

You own an iPad 2: Wait it out. It’s always best to skip one generation of Apple products and the yearly cycle of upgrades means you’re just a year away from the new ‘New iPad’. While the new iPad has a lot – it just doesn’t have enough for you to trash your iPad 2. And to those who think the iPad 2 is the best bang for your buck, that’s hogwash! Put in the extra R5,000 and get the new iPad. 5K isn’t worth losing out on so many great new features.

Top 5 New iPad competitors
Kindle Fire:
Having sold nearly 6 million tablets in the fourth quarter of 2011, Amazon’s Kindle Fire is a force to be reckoned with. The 7-incher has a price and size advantage and the eco system that has been built around this $199 device is formidable. If just a little bit of browsing, reading an ebook, playing a game and watching a movie is all you need a Tablet for – then the Fire is king. And now we hear the Kindle Fire 2 is around the corner

Asus Padfone

Asus Transformer and Padfone:

Asus Transformer is an Ultrabook and a Tablet that has literally rewritten the rules of ergonomics and form factor. It truly shines as a Tablet and completely outwits the competition when docked as a Notebook. The battery life itself is jaw dropping. The Padfone, on the other hand, is a phone docked in a Tablet that transforms to a Notebook and has a stylus that does double duty as a full mobile phone. And while I found the whole idea a little fiddly – most people are super excited about the concept. Beautiful form factors are the extra bonus on these two. Then there’s the no compromise quad core 7-inch budget wonder coming up from Asus called the Memo. The price – an incredible $249

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga: Showcased at CES 2012, the IdeaPad Yoga was a show stealer. True to its name, this Tablet has a 360-degree flip and fold design and is as slim as an Ultrabook. It’s a great idea; the design is smart and takes into consideration almost every weakness that a hybrid has ever displayed before. Heads will turn as the Yoga transforms

Samsung Note and Note 10.1: Samsung Galaxy Note gives you a big phone and a small Tablet – all rolled into one. That’s where the whole idea of the Phablet and Tabhone (ugly words) was born. For many, the portability of the Note and the fact that you don’t pay two times the money for a Tablet and a phone are enough to call it the best thing ever. And now the Note 10.1 is a Tablet with the S pen magic stylus and it can also do side-by-side apps on the same screen. Plus at the rate Samsung brings in new Tablets – I’m betting a new Note Tablet with a Retina++ screen in less than 90 days

Windows 8: Windows 8 lends itself perfectly to hybrids and unique design. And with the all-new Microsoft aggressiveness, watch out for some radical new Tablets and Notebook hybrids to make a high decibel appearance very soon.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3. Follow Rajiv on Twitter at

From HT Brunch, March 18

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First Published: Mar 16, 2012 13:06 IST