Science //

The new iPad

Clearer, better, stronger and faster – but not in Australia, writes Rob North

Last Wednesday Apple introduced a new version of its hugely successful tablet computer range simply called, the iPad. Boasting a high definition display and faster processor, the new iPad will be the first Apple product to feature 4G LTE mobile network capabilities, offering signifncantly faster download speeds than its predecessor.

However Australians will be unable to connect to Telstra’s 4G LTE network with the new iPad upon its March 16 release. Telstra launched its 4G LTE network last year using a different frequency (1800 MHz) to that of the United States (700 MHz, currently used by analogue television in Australia). Australian consumers will still be able to connect to WiFi and the 3G network, but will be unable to match the mobile download speed (up to five times faster than the 3G network) of the 4G capable rival product, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9.

The most substantial upgrade to the iPad is its 9.7 inch, 2048 x 1536 pixel “retina display”, boasting a higher resolution than a standard HD TV and a 44 per cent increase in colour saturation from the iPad 2. There’s been a slight increase in thickness and weight, presumably to pack in the HD display; increasing in thickness from 8.8 milimetres for the iPad 2 to 9.4 millimetres, and a 50 gram increase in weight across models, at around 650 grams.

Amateur photographers and filmmakers will also be happy to know the iPad comes equipped with a five-megapixel camera with backside-illuminated sensor, five element lens with IR filter, capable of capturing video at 1080p. Additionally, the iPad camera will feature face detection and image stabilisation. It is hardly top of the line, and there’s no escaping the awkwardness of taking a photograph with a tablet computer, but it is more than adequate for family happy-snaps and video calls.

The Apple iPhoto and iMovie apps have also been given updates and iPad optimisation to coincide with the release, allowing for greater manipulation and easier options for sharing. Unfortunately these apps won’t be bundled with the iPad, instead priced at a $4.99 each and available via the app-store.

Keeping in line with its competitors, Apple also unveiled that the iPad features a ‘dictation’ tool for composing text.

Despite these seemingly power heavy new features, Apple claims that the battery life will be around 10 hours, matching that of the iPad 2.

It is disappointing to see that the iPad, much like other iOS devices, will not support flash or divx video formats out of the box. Moreover, there will be no USB or SD card slots on the new iPad, requiring a $35 adaptor available online or from Apple’s retail stores. However, it is still the cheapest tablet on the market posessing these features, with the WiFi-only 16GB model costing $499.

Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the iPad at an invitation-only media event in San Francisco, ushering in what he described as “the post-PC revolution,” an era in which tablets and smart phones will replace traditional desktop and laptop computers as the predominant consumer computing devices. Apple made 76 per cent of its fourth quarter 2011 revenue from post-PC devices, selling more iPads than any PC manufacturer sold of their entire PC product line worldwide.

Apple also revealed an upgraded Apple TV set-top box which will support high definition (1080p) movie and television downloads. The new model set-top box will sell for $109 in Australia, available March 16th. The upgrade also includes a new iOS styled ‘icon’ user interface and built in genius recommendations based on previous purchases and viewing habits, Apple stating that the new layout would allow for easier navigation. Apple also said that it would allow users to access previously purchased movies, TV episodes, music and photos stored on the iCloud remote storage service.