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Apple iPad (Gen 4) Tablet Review

The fourth iPad is here, and is extremely similar to the previous version.

November 02, 2012
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Screen

Measuring in at the same dimensions (7.5625 × 5.875 inches) and resolution (2046 × 1536) as the previous version, the newest Apple iPad (4th Gen.) has a beautifully crisp backlit LCD screen that not only has a resolution that puts it very close to being a retina display, but it still has the best color performance of any tablet tested so far.

Most of your interaction with the tablet will occur through the responsive capacitive touchscreen, which does not seem to have any tracking errors when running your finger over the glass.

Front Image

Indoor & Outdoor Use

Due to high reflectivity, the Apple iPad (4th Gen.) isn't exactly a joy to use in bright sunlight. Because LCD screens rely on a strong backlight to shine through and display an image, bright sunlight often makes the images very hard to see unless there's an extremely bright backlight. Given that the Apple iPad (4th Gen.)'s peak brightness isn't much brighter than what you'd find on a TV, bright sunlight and the iPad is a bad combination.

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

Due to the impressive pixel density, the Apple iPad has an extremely high legibility score, as text and images are rendered without much apparent “stair-stepping” or visible pixels. Unless you basically press your eyeballs to the screen, you’re unlikely to notice the transition from one pixel to another.

legibility.jpg

Like other tablets with a huge PPI, because the screen resolution is so large, a lot of the content that you upload may still look like it’s pixellated because it was made with a smaller display resolution in mind, and you can see that by looking at the difference in the text and illustration images above. Even though text looks incredible on the iPad, the illustration still has hallmarks of resolution issues because the source material is not optimized for an appropriately-sized resolution. You will run into this problem over and over again until new content is either shot in a higher resolution, or content is released in a format that makes the best use of the screen. Currently, video bought from iTunes does not do this, as it is 1920 × 1080, not 2046 × 1536.

Reflectance

By having a screen that reflects about 9.1% of all light back at its user, the Apple iPad falls squarely into the “mediocre” category when discussing reflectivity. Like most other tablets with an LCD screen, the reflection pattern is also quite sharp and distracting, so avoid bright sources of light if at all possible.

Screen Size & DPI

A screen size of 7.5625 × 5.875 inches and a resolution of 2046 × 1536 nets the Apple iPad a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch, which is enough to make it appear to those of you with 20/20 vision like the tablet isn’t using a matrix of pixels to display an image, as you won’t be able to see where one pixel stops and the other begins.

Blacks and Whites

Tablets have the tall order of not only producing a good quality image, but doing so with a high peak brightness to overpower ambient light. The Apple iPad has a decently bright screen, but its low black level of 0.39cd/m2 affords it not only a great contrast range of 940:1 (wider is better), but an increased ability to display detail in gradients.

Blacks and Whites Chart

Color Gamut

The color gamut on the newest iPad is fantastic compared to all of its competitors, though there are some problems with oversaturated blues and reds. All said and done, though, a fantastic display with great color accuracy.

Color Gamut Chart

Battery Life

The Apple iPad seems to manage its power consumption about as well as the previous version of the tablet. Able to read an eBook for 5 hours, 31 minutes, and playing video back for 5 hours, 38 minutes, the iPad has middling performance in terms of battery life. All of our tests are run with the backlight cranked as high as it can go, and all wireless and extra services disabled, so you can expect using alternate settings to give you differing results.

Battery Life Chart

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. 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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