iPad 3 - Video, Gaming and Battery Life

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iPad 3 – Video Playback

Thanks to the extra muscle under the hood, the

new iPad has little trouble playing back HD video. 1080p MOV and MP4

trailers played back perfectly where on the iPad 2 there was major

judder if they played at all. The iPad 3 can also manage High definition

MKV, but annoyingly you’ll need to work around Apple’s accepted format

limitations with an app like AVPlayerHD. The iPad does have the required

power, but due to the difficulty in getting content onto the tablet,

native format limitations, and the black bar issue, we definitely prefer

the experience on the

Transformer Prime or other, equally-endowed Android tablets.

iPad 3 – iOS 5.1 Interface

iOS

5.1 is a slick operating system that’s easy to get to grips with. It

feels cleaner and still just a little shinier than the best Android has

to offer, but to be honest, with Android 4 – known as Ice Cream

Sandwich, or ICS – running on a powerful tablet, it’s a close battle. 

Android also gives you more customisation, more control, and of course

widgets.

For anyone familiar with Apple’s OS, very little has

changed. You still get apps in grids of four, and you can fill as many

pages as you like. One nice touch is that you can now put up to six

icons on the ‘most used’ bar for quick access no matter which page

you’re on, and of course folders can still be created by dragging one

icon onto another. A few notifications, like wireless status and battery

life, are visible in the top bar, and there’s an Android-like

notifications panel that’s accessed by a downward swipe from there.

There

was a lot of debate as to whether the new iPad would receive Siri, the

SF-like, voice-activated and controlled assistant we first encountered

on the

iPhone 4S. It hasn’t, though a pared-down core has made it in in the

form of Diction. Diction is essentially the iPad 3’s

Dragon Naturally Speaking, letting you talk rather than type. This is

undoubtedly a cool feature, but it’s a bit of a let-down after Siri and

we hope that the virtual assistant becomes an option in a future iOS

update, if only on the 4G models.  

iOS has some nifty gesture

support, including a four-finger pinch to return to the Home page from

an app. A four-finger swipe, meanwhile, will let you access your running

applications in a task manager-like menu raised from the bottom bar.

Pressing one of these active app icons for a while will bring up little

close buttons, allowing you to shut down apps to keep your tablet’s

resources free. Apps actually pause when you go back to the Home screen,

go into another app or receive a notification though. Unlike Android

where they can still be running full-tilt in the background, iOS still

doesn’t let you multi-task ‘properly’, though for most this probably

won’t be an issue. New iPad 3 13

So

the bad points? Initial setup (from scratch) does take a lot longer

with the iPad than on an Android tablet, and of course you’re tied into

iTunes for most things unless you set up workarounds. We would have

really liked a few photos and maybe some video to show off the amazing

screen out of the box too, rather than needing to use wallpapers as

eye-candy. We also noticed a few rare, minor freezes in various apps,

only during more intensive tasks like video playback and gaming. Overall

though, everything ran smoothly despite the extra processing power, and

our iPad 3 didn’t get too hot even when gaming for an extended period.

iPad 3 – Gaming

Speaking of gaming, playing on the Retina Display is

amazing. There aren’t many graphically impressive 3D titles that have

been created specifically for the new iPad out yet, with a few notable

exceptions like Sky Gamblers: Air Supremacy and Real Racing 2. However,

there are also some gorgeous ‘remastered’ titles, with Infinity Blade 2

being the standout. We really can’t reiterate enough just how glorious

the game looked at 2,048 x 1,536. New iPad 3 23

iPad 3 – Apps

Naturally,

other (non-gaming) apps are also taking advantage of the increased

pixel count. Of course, all the standard apps have been reworked to

support the new resolution, and most of the premium apps coming out will

support it. However, what about your existing collection? Worry not,

just like with old iPhone 3/3G apps running on the iPhone 4, the screen

resolution on Apple’s iPad 3 is exactly double that of the previous

model, so everything will scale beautifully. Obviously, browsing and

reading are sublime on the pin-sharp screen.

iPad 3 – Battery Life

On

average we’re getting around the same battery life on the new iPad as

we did with the iPad 2, though if anything it’s actually a bit less.

Still, considering that you’ll easily get over eight hours, there’s

little reason for complaint.

iPad 3 – Value

Last

but not least there’s the question of value, where the iPad 3 holds up

well because it doesn’t cost a penny more than the iPad 2 did at launch.

That means the 16GB Wi-Fi model can be yours for as little as £399,

which is superb value for the amount of tech the iPad 3 packs into its

casing no matter how you look at it. Do keep in mind though that, unlike

on an Android tablet, memory is not expandable, so you’re stuck with

what you buy. Unfortunately, Apple charges a rather hefty £479 for the

32GB Wi-Fi model and it goes up from there, bringing it more in line

with the kind of pricing we were expecting for Apple’s newest tablet.

So

should you actually buy one? It really depends on what you want from

your tablet. If you intend to use it mainly for browsing the web,

reading books (although an eReader like the

Sony Reader PRS-T1 or Kindle would be far healthier for your eyes) and

various apps plus gaming, there’s little reason not to go for Apple’s

latest tablet unless you already own an iPad 2. It still has a larger

app selection and is very well supported, and for now its screen is

unmatched.
New iPad 3 19
If,

however, you want a tablet that can cope with all kinds of content and

you want to be able to decide how it gets there; if you watch a lot of

video on your tablet; if you want to use it for productivity and/or

design; and most especially if you want it to come as close as possible

to a laptop replacement, then the iPad 3 is not necessarily your best

choice. Instead we would recommend a premium Android tablet like the

amazing

Asus EeePad Transformer Prime or even the bulky but versatile

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet.

Verdict
There’s no denying

that the Apple new iPad is a stylish, desirable tablet, and its Retina

Display is simply stunning. It also packs plenty of power under the hood

thanks to its A5X SoC, combining a dual-core processor with quad-core

graphics – all without sacrificing battery life or putting the iPad 3’s

starting price over £400. iOS 5.1 looks better than ever before, as do

the apps and games that take advantage of the iPad 3’s stunning 2,048 x

1,536 resolution. Finally the iOS app store still holds the edge over

Google’s Android Market – for now. However, the new iPad is an

evolutionary rather than revolutionary product, and all the same

annoyances and limitations apply as with previous models. Android

tablets are also beating it on size and weight, battery life, features

and connectivity, and should soon match its specifications.

Score in detail

  • Performance 8
  • Value 8
  • Design 7
  • Screen Quality 10
  • Features 7
  • Battery Life 9

Other

Processor Apple A5X
Internal Storage (Gigabyte) 16, 32 and 64GB
Depth (Millimeter) 9.4mm

Display

Resolution 2048 x 1536
Display Size (Inch) 9.7in
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