New iPad: The Third Generation

The new iPad is here. Apple's new tablet computer has arrived and its ultra-sharp 2048 x 1536 pixel Retina display is enough to set it apart from anyone else. It's almost like looking at a glossy magazine page.

It also has much more powerful guts, with a much faster processor, graphics and more memory. And it's 4G ready.

Retina display

The Retina display looks gorgeous. The screen has a 264 pixels per inch. That's a total 3.1 million pixels in a full color IPS screen. The image color seems a lot better too. They say it has 44 percent more saturation than the IPS technology they were using previously.

Apple claims that it is still a Retina display because, when you held it at a normal distance, you just can't see the pixels. That distance is 15 inches. For the iPhone, which has a smaller screen, it is 10 inches. I can't wait to test this thing with all my comics (I wonder if Marvel will have to upload them all again).

They demonstrated it running a new version of Autodesk Sketchbook Ink, a new painting app that is vector-based and resolution independent. It actually seems like you are painting on a real page.

New iPad: The Third Generation

Processor and graphics power

The processor is an Apple-designed A5X, which includes a quad-core graphics module. It's going to need all the graphics muscle if it has to push those 3.1 million pixels.

According to Apple, it's twice as fast as a Tegra 3 and has "four times" the graphics performance. Hot damn.

New camera

The new iPad has a new camera on the back: has a 5-megapixel job with a side-iluminated sensor, a 5-element lens and an infrared filter. It's basically the same configuration as on the iPhone 4S, with three fewer megapixels. Serious specs for a tablet camera—you can expect to see more people carrying around iPads taking pictures of things. And Apple also left the VGA FaceTime camera in the front. Great.

New iPad: The Third Generation

1080p video recording

The rear camera, which Apple calls the iSight Camera (the front-facing one is the facetime camera), is capable of capturing 1080p video at 30 frames per second, which obviously looks razor sharp on the iPad's display. The video, like the iPhone 4S, is also stabilized.

Apple says it has temporal noise reduction, which is a rather clever technique that greatly reduces the noise of video by comparing what pixels actually move and guessing what is noise and what is actual detail.

New iPad: The Third Generation

Dictation

The new iPad's operating system offers a new microphone button, which will allow you to dictate emails, presumably using technology related to Siri. There was no actual mention of Siri assitance.

4G LTE connectivity

Apple says the new 4G LTE connectivity will give you 21Mbps on HSPA+ networks, 42Mbps on DC-HSDPA and 73Mbps on LTE. Of course, these speeds are theoretical. It will run on both AT&T and Verizon networks. According to Phil Schiller, the new model "has the most wireless bands that has ever shipped."

Memory and other guts

Apple is not mentioning actual specifications for the guts of the machine, but it's pretty clear that the memory—not the storage, but RAM used for running the OS and the applications—has increased too, if only to handle the new resolution.

Mike Capps, from Epic Games, says that it has more memory than an Xbox 360 or a PlayStation 3. Presumably, his comment refers to graphics memory. We will know soon how much this is exactly.

Physical specifications

Surprisingly, they have kept the package practically just the same as the previous version: only 0.03 inches thicker than the iPad 2 at 0.37 inches (9.4 millimeters). The weight is only 1.5 pounds.

Launch date

You will be able to get it on March 16, but the preorder starts today. It will be available in the US, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia on the same day.

The price is $499, $599 and $699 for 16, 32, and 64GB. If you want 4G LTE, you will have to spend $629, $729, and $829.

One more thing

The name. Did you notice it? The name is not iPad HD. It's just iPad. Which demonstrates two things.

First, that rumors are bullshit (but I always tell you that. All the rumors are when it comes to Apple. They just become true if you give them enough time).

Then, and most importantly, it shows that Apple has finally realized that this naming scheme was going nowhere. Does iPad 15 make any sense to you? No. Which is why they have just adopted the same strategy as they adopted with MacBooks and iMacs. Just call them by their name and attach a year number or some other descriptive string in your stock systems. It makes sense.

So much sense that I bet they will call the iPhone 5 just the iPhone. You heard that rumor here first, folks! BELIEVE IT!