tablets

Apple iPad (Gen 3) Tablet Review

The new iPad is here, with an incredible screen.

March 16, 2012
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Screen

While not as physically large as some of the other tablet screens out there, the screen of the new iPad is 7.5625 x 5.875 with an enormous resolution of 2046 x 1536 pixels. What does this mean for you? Well, aside from its net DPI of 264 pixels, its resolution makes it very close to a true retina display, meaning that the human eye can not distinguish the pixels in the screen if viewed by a person with 20/20 vision at a distance of over a foot. If you'd like to know more about the science behind this, check out Dr. Raymond Soneira on the subject.

As it had in the previous iterations, the new iPad has a capacitive touchscreen that will allow you exceptionally precise control of the touch controls of the user interface, iOS 5.

Front Image

Indoor & Outdoor Use

One of the biggest shortcomings of tablets with LCD screens in general is the fact that they not only are highly reflective, but also cannot function well outdoors by the very nature of how they work. Because they rely on a backlight to overpower the ambient light and display their image, bright sunlight will make the image look washed-out and difficult to see, so don't plan on taking your tablet to the beach. Still, if you keep your iPad out of direct sunlight, you should have some degree of success.

indoor-outdoor.jpg

NOTE: The images above are shot with a variety of lighting sources, which may cause some color shift.

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Legibility

It should come as no surprise that a screen with a resolution that has just under double the DPI of other tablets is incredible from a legibility standpoint. If you look super-closely, you can see that each pixel is roughly 1/4th the size of the competitors’ pixels. Impressive, no? Held at more than 1 foot away from your face, an adult with normal vision should not be able to see the lines of pixels.

legibility.jpg

Reflectance

Much like every other tablet with an LCD screen, however, there is the huge downside of a highly reflective screen. Despite the ferociously-named gorilla glass coating, it doesn’t do much to maul light that hits the screen, and it reflects about 25.8% of it back at you, 8.6% of it directly.

As you can imagine, this issue, coupled with the fact that LCD screens typically are not bright enough to be seen in direct sunlight, makes the Apple iPad something that should never really see the bright sun, as you won’t really be able to see the picture.

Screen Size & DPI

As previously discussed, the iPad has a screen size of 7.5625 × 5.875 and a resolution of 2046 × 1536, netting it a DPI of 264, which is absolutely bananas compared to the tablets its meant to compete with. By doing this, Apple gives users a small bit of insurance for the future, as many photos and other content can often exceed the standard 720p resolution most tablets seem to hover around.

Keep in mind, though, that currently the Apple’s iTunes store sells videos at a maximum of 1080p, so you won’t be getting every ounce of performance out of the screen unless you have other content available. Still, your tablet will be able to render 1080p content with minimal scaling issues, so do not worry.

Blacks and Whites

With a decided improvement in contrast performance, the Apple iPad provides a good quality picture. As the Apple iPad has a good black level and a decent peak brightness, our tests show that the iPad hangs with the best of them in terms of black and white performance by the numbers.

Blacks and Whites Chart

Color Gamut

Wow. When we initially heard Apple’s claims that its gamut was “40% better,” we weren’t sure exactly what to think. Well, looking at what we found with our photospectrometer, we can see that there was a drastic improvement, and possibly the best color gamut so far. While there is a certain level of error, and a shift in the blues, this screen is by far and away the most accurate on the market.

Color Gamut Chart

Battery Life

Well, we finally finished our battery tests, and the results are extremely underwhelming. While we believe that there’s the high probability that the screen brightness plays a factor in this one, the new iPad lags behind the competition, and even its previous iteration, the iPad 2. It would be one thing if the performance was able to offset the cost in worse battery life, but not only did the iPad fall behind in battery life with all additional processes terminated and the backlight cranked, but it did so with the WiFi and location services turned off.

Battery Life Chart

Considering the size and weight of the battery, it’s a little baffling that it can’t quite defeat the competing Android tablets in battery life, especially considering that they outperform the new iPad in terms of screen brightness by a large margin, many times exceeding 100 cd/m2. Perhaps in time Apple will release a software upgrade that will help the new iPad with resource management, but this score is just bad considering the iPad’s former throne as “best on the market.” On top of all this, the battery itself takes far longer to charge than most tablets, often taking 5+ hours to charge completely.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Product Tour
  3. Screen
  4. Battery & Controls
  5. eReader
  6. Music & Audio
  7. Movies & Video
  8. Email & Web Browsing
  9. Internet Apps
  10. Apple iPad 2 Wi-fi & 3G / AT&T / 16 GB Comparison
  11. Motorola Xyboard Comparison
  12. Amazon Kindle Fire Comparison
  13. Conclusion
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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