Now that the latest Apple buzz-a-thon has died down, it's time to see what the newest iPad offers enterprise users. Here are the features we find most compelling.
1. Display: Physically, the new iPad is virtually indistinguishable from the previous version except for the added weight from the new one's larger battery. The new device delivers twice the resolution of the iPad 2 and a greatly improved range of displayable colors and saturation, thanks to a display with more pixels than a 1080p HDTV--pixels so small they're indiscernible at typical viewing distances.
A popular use of the iPad is outfitting sales teams with the devices so they can show customers dynamic, resizable images instead of static catalogs; whether the new tablet will serve that function better than the iPad 2 depends largely on what you're selling. The differences are most noticeable on icons and text. On high-resolution photographs and HD videos, the differences are subtle; the most noticeable improvement is color rendering and saturation, not pixel resolution. This is actually a testament to just how good the iPad 2's display already is. In fact, most images won't test the limits of either device. The same is true of video.
2. 4G LTE: The other big addition on select models is 4G LTE wireless networking, and it's a welcome improvement, especially for road warriors. Verizon models now also support Wi-Fi tethering, what Apple calls Personal Hotspots, to connect another computer to the Internet using the iPad's cellular connection. That makes the new iPad an alternative to mobile routers like the MiFi. Verizon throws it in at no extra cost with iPad data plans (it charges $20 per month for this feature on the iPhone), so it's hard to see how AT&T remains competitive without it.
3. Performance: Most of the engineering for the new iPad's A5X processor went toward handling all those extra pixels, not running applications. Like the A5 found in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, the new processor has dual instruction cores running at 1 GHz, but double the GPU count, going from two to four. Apple also doubled the RAM, to 1 GB, and the RAM is now a discrete component, not packaged with the A5 system-on-a-chip. In side-by-side testing, it's almost impossible to detect a performance difference between the second- and third-generation devices. Both are well-suited to typical knowledge worker tasks.
4. Battery life: The new iPad maintains the same impressive battery life as the iPad 2 by packing a bigger battery--in fact, the device could accurately be described as one big, flat battery with a few chips and a fancy display panel glued on.
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