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iPad 3 review

Sharper screen, faster innards - but is it worth the update?

New iPad 3 review

Now, here comes the good stuff. Most people we speak to use the iPad for two things: internet browsing and media consumption.

Yes, we know it's more than half decent for a number of other tasks, but media is definitely one of the iPad 3's strong points.

The capacities aren't upped with the third iteration of Apple's tablet though; that's going to be a bit of a worry when you look at some of the media sizes now on offer and you can only choose a 16GB, 32GB or 64GB model.

New iPad 3 review

With no expandable memory on display… well, Apple may have played itself into a corner for the new iPad.

Music

Music used to be the core focus of any Apple product, but that's clearly no longer the case – not to say the fruity firm has lost its way when it comes to audio playback.

It's one of the few elements that Apple has deigned to give a widget-like experience too – both on the lock screen and the multi-tasking pane – and users will really feel the benefit of being able to control their tunes from anywhere within the system.

New iPad 3 review

However, the main music player itself isn't actually that easy to use; we were unimpressed with the fact the controls were stuck high in the top left-hand corner of the app, and there's no way to increase their size.

It's not a terrible system, but if you're using the iPad 3 to listen to some tunes, there's not a lot more you're going to want from the music app when flicking through tracks – larger icons would make much more sense here.

New iPad 3 review

However, in terms of music quality the new iPad is certainly up there – even without messing around with the equaliser or sound check options, the results are still more than good enough for everyone but the most discerning audiophile.

In terms of music formats the device is capable of playing back, we think most would struggle in this day and age to have some incompatible formats from the list of MP3, most types of AAC, AIFF, Apple Lossless and WAV files.

Video

Imagine the jump from your standard definition TV to a full 1080p video of something the BBC shot with David Attenborough… it was immense. We were expecting something along the same lines with the iPad 3, but in reality, we weren't that blown away.

New iPad 3 review

That's going to sound odd to some people, and we should probably qualify it: with the Retina Display, Apple has brought tablet video watching to the level it should be at. Most users will have seen video on a smartphone at around WVGA or qHD level, and been gobsmacked at the sharpness.

Tablets haven't been able to match that so far… until the iPad 3 that is. Video looks as good on a larger display as it does on a larger screened TV or tiny smartphone, and that's what we've been waiting for.

However, it's worth pointing out that, like on a full HD TV, the wow factor only comes when you're viewing 1080p content – other SD movies and TV shows just look OK in comparison. Not terrible by any means… just not amazing.

And we're presented with a wealth of other tablets with top end resolution too - be it the Nexus 10 or the Sony Xperia Tablet S, Apple is no longer alone in the high resolution game.

New iPad 3 review

The iPad 3 has the best video playback quality we've seen from the Apple tablet range so far (although the smoothness of the iPad 4 is a touch better), with the expected good levels of sharpness.

It sometimes still struggles with the contrast ratios (the difference between the light and dark areas of the video) on non-HD content, and the glossy screen will still annoy people that can see their reflection more than the content on the screen in bright areas.

But it's still a great movie experience when lying on a deckchair on the beach, or around a campfire in the Amazon (or whatever hip scenario the Cupertino brand is pushing this week) as long as you've got some nice content to watch.

New iPad 3 review

Thankfully, Apple has deigned to give users a fully stocked iTunes portal to download video from, and there's so much to choose from. It's also pulled a neat trick by making it possible to access 1080p content without adding too much onto the file sizes seen at 720p, which should aid some users' decisions.

However, there are two areas that severely limit the iTunes store in terms of making it a really compelling video portal: price and file size.

It seems ludicrous that the first season of Modern Family should cost £35 in the UK when you can pick up the DVD for £10 in most places. We know that's at HD level, but still – it's way too expensive to be a viable alternative to just watching it on a TV.

And then there's the issue of file size – most full HD movies are between 3-4GB in size, which means if you've only got a 16GB new iPad 3, you're going to be severely limited in what you can take with you (and that's even before we get into the app sizes).

New iPad 3 review

So it's a double edged sword when it comes to video on the iPad 3: on the one hand the screen is pin sharp, the quality excellent at full HD and even the sound out the little grille at the side is strong and relatively powerful on the bass.

New iPad 3 review

But then there's issue of paying through the nose to actually get the content onto your device (unless you happen to have a glut of M4V-ready HD video files on your home computer) and the fact it will dominate your internal storage too.

It felt like the iPad 3 was the precursor to a truly amazing video-playing iPad 4 – with up to 128GB of onboard storage and a more affordable video store - but now we've seen that simply hasn't happened.

Tech Specs

Product TypeTablet
Flash Memory Capacity16 GB
Processor ManufacturerApple
Graphics Controller ManufacturerApple
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Maximum Battery Run Time10 Hour
Backlight TechnologyLED
WimaxNo
Product FamilyiPad (3rd Generation)
Front Camera/WebcamYes
Operating System PlatformiOS
ColourBlack
Operating SystemiOS 5
Brand NameApple
Form FactorSlate
Processor TypeA5X
Screen Size24.6 cm (9.7")
Screen Resolution2048 x 1536
Weight (Approximate)653.2 g
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
TouchscreenYes
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Display Screen TechnologyIn-plane Switching (IPS) Technology
WWAN SupportedNo
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Country of OriginChina
Height241.3 mm
Width185.7 mm
Depth9.4 mm
Screen ModeQXGA
ManufacturerApple, Inc
Product ModelMC705B/A
Product NameThe new iPad Tablet Computer
Product LineiPad (3rd Generation)
Aspect Ratio4:3
Manufacturer Part NumberMC705B/A
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.apple.com/uk
Marketing InformationIt's brilliant. In every sense of the word.

Pick up the new iPad and suddenly, it's clear. You're actually touching your photos, reading a book, playing the piano. Nothing comes between you and what you love. To make that hands-on experience even better, we made the fundamental elements of iPad better - the display, the camera, the wireless connection. All of which makes the new, third-generation iPad capable of so much more than you ever imagined.

Retina display. See everything like never before.

Four times more pixels than iPad 2. Razor-sharp text. Richer colors. The Retina display transforms the entire iPad experience. So everything looks and feels incredibly lifelike and perfectly detailed.

Package Contents
  • The new iPad Tablet Computer
  • USB Power Adapter
  • Dock Connector to USB Cable
  • Documentation
Limited Warranty1 Year