What we didn’t get with “The new iPad”

We were all so ‘hyped’ up with the release of the New iPad (aka: iPad 3rd Generation), that we seemed to have forgotten what we actually were hoping for to begin with. Let me remind some of you what that was.

New design: When the iPhone 4S came out, a lot of folks were disappointed Apple didn’t deliver the iPhone 5. Instead, we got a souped-up version of the iPhone 4 with a better camera and no real design changes (Apple did move the ambient light sensor slightly, but that doesn’t count).

Similarly, the “iPad 3″ — Apple isn’t calling it that — doesn’t really look any different from the iPad 2. Yes, the case is slightly more tapered, but it’s not a significant change. In other words, once again almost all the change is on the inside. For some people, that’s just fine, but if you were hoping to see a whole new iPad with a new look, you’ll have to wait.

Lighter weight: One of the issues with the iPad is that it remains a little heavy. Alas, with the new Retina display, better cameras and faster processor, Apple couldn’t reduce the weight of the device (it measures 9.4mm thin and weighs 652 grams for the WiFi-only version). To get lighter, Apple would probably have to reduce the size of the battery, but that just wasn’t possible in moving to the high-resolution display (Apple says battery life remains at 10 hours). As it stands, the new iPad weighs about 30 grams more than the iPad 2.

An A6 processor: Prior to launch, there were lots of chatter about what kind of chip would power the next iPad. After the iPhone 4S got a modified version of the A5 processor found in the iPad 2, many presumed the new iPad would get the A6 processor. Instead we got the A5X, which does have a quad-core processor (no disappointment there).

Apple says the A5X offers “four times the performance” of Nvidia’s Tegra 3 chip. Great as that all sounds, it’s still no A6.

A 128GB version: Those holding out for a higher-capacity iPad will have to continue to wait. We’re now looking at topping out at 64GB with no expansion slot.

A 7-incher (the rumoured iPad Mini): While we thought the chances were slim that Apple would introduce a smaller iPad at this time, rumours continue to swirl that it will happen sometime this year. After the release of the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet (both now cost US$199 and aren’t available in Australia), we’d like to see what Apple could do at this size. We’ll have to wait.

Siri: Everyone, including this writer, expected Apple to add Siri, the voice-controlled iPhone virtual assistant feature to the next iPad. So where is she? Interestingly, Apple said that new iPad will allow users to dictate emails, but didn’t mention Siri, who does more than take dictation.

iOS 6: Ars Technica reported that it was seeing devices running iOS 6 in logs, sparking hope that Apple might release — or at least tease — iOS 6. Alas, we’re only getting iOS 5.1 now. Expect more iOS news to emerge in June at Apple’s World Wide Developers conference.

Thunderbolt, USB, SD Slots: While MacBook Pro got the really fast new ThunderBolt I/O, iPad 2 didn’t. It didn’t get a built-in USB port or an SD card slot either. Once again the Dock remains the only data port on iPad. At least the Camera Kit will let you get a big dongle for USB and SD. Lack of PCI Express architecture probably keeps ThunderBolt off the roadmap for the foreseeable future though.

No name: Well, it looks like Apple’s moving away from numbers in its iPad naming scheme like it did with the iPod Touch. For now it’s just calling it “the new iPad”, but when you actually order it through the Apple Store, what you see in your cart is Apple iPad (3rd generation). Perhaps this opens the door to other model names/versions such as the iPad Mini.

However with these small losses to the addition of the iPad 3, don’t let that get you down! They did have some memorable additions that will surely compete with the market… For now.

  • Retina Display, 2048 x 1536
  • Quad-core A5X processor for improved graphics. Claims to have 4x the graphics performance as NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 processor that’s found in many Android tablets
  • iSight camera, same optics system found in the iPhone 4S. It’s 5 MP
  • Records full 1080p HD video
  • Voice dictation: new key on the keyboard. Tap it, and it dictates everything you say (However, not Siri…)
  • 4G LTE, HSPA+ for wireless carriers. Available on AT&T and Verizon
  • Personal hotspot feature
  • 3G world ready for connecting to international wireless carriers
  • 10 hours of battery life, 9 hours on 4G
  • Starts at $499 for Wi-Fi, 16 GB model. Same pricing structure as the iPad 2
  • Goes on sale March 16

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