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I was a fairly disillusioned iPad owner until late 2011 when I sold my iPad (as in iPad1, although the iPad 3 is now as far as Apple are concerned known as the iPad). I wrote a review on in, on this very site and whilst I loved it in principle, it being super fun to use, it was fairly useless. Well, to me it was anyway. So I sold it as I wasn't really getting much use for it and had pretty much written the iPad off as 'fun, but useless'
About a month ago I rang the service provider for my MiFi (another review of that on this site), Three, to cancel my contract as I was no longer making much of the unit - and I was plonked right into the middle of a tricky dilemma. I was offered an iPad 3 for the same price as I was paying for my MiFi (£25pm). I told them I would call them back whilst I had a think about it.
On one hand, I found the iPad 'fun, but useless' and on the other I was so used to the £25 coming out of my account I had barely noticed it - it was such a regular part of my monthly budget I don't know what I'd otherwise wisely spend it on.
So, I think you can imagine what my decision was - 2 days later the iPad was delivered, and I wasn't struck with the 'buyers guilt' with the first one, it felt (I know its not) like a win win. I got rid of something I wasn't using and replaced it with something I hope I would. Right out of the box it felt recognisable, but different to the original model. Apple seem to have a knack for making all their products (of recent years anyway) feel super premium. The iPad 3 is light, has a really clean and polished finished and as I felt with the original iPad - right away it feels exciting. I don't know how Apple do it, but after using a range of tablet PCs - the iPad 3 effortlessly feels like a step into tech future.
This feel is only confirmed when its turned on. I was impressed with how the screen looked on the Ipad, but the Ipads upgraded and self branded 'Retina Display' takes things to another level. I was expecting this too look good - but its on the borderline of mind blowing. It took me back to the time I first watch a blu-ray in full HD and I my eyes struggled to adjust to what they were previously used too. With the iPad 3s screen my eyes were once again treated to a near nauseating level of clarity. As a test, I on of the first things I did was check out some HD videos on Youtube - one of the most viewed being a BBC clip featuring a mountain and what not. It loaded faster than I was used to (more on that later) and with almost no buffering I was treated to a stunning 10 minute clip. I wasn't just the depth and clarity that was stunning, but the colours where some of the cleanest and crispest I seen on any device, let alone a tablet. Whilst the blue of the sky in the clip was still blue, the display seemed to add a new vibrancy to it. It's safe to say, my first impressions of the iPad were great. I was blown away a bit with the first iPad - the feel and the screen, but I was very, very impressed they have taken already top notch qualities and upgraded them to revolutionary levels. Quickly, the 'fun' factor was outweighing the 'bit useless' factor and quickly confirming this as a decent decision to pick up an iPad rather than save £25pm.
This was within the first 10 minutes of busting the device out of the box - I'll rewind a little. It was packaged minimally as I expected with a small guide and the usual stickers, a data cable and a plug which when connected to the data cable formed a power supply. No headphones or cover, and mine also came (separately) with a 3 sim card that slotted in a way similar to an iPhone rather than a regular mobile. Apple don't tend to spoil with gubbins in the box, but as with most of their products this came fully charged so after confirming the settings (country, time etc) and signing into my iTunes account, plus a few other calibrations it was good to go - and with the sim in and connected to my home Wifi I was pretty much fully set up - no more than about 5-10 minutes and I was going.
So, after my initial tests with Youtube I had a look around at how the device was app wise out of the box. Mostly, things hadn't changed that much. The standard apps you'd expect with an iPad and most tablet devices are there - calendar, books, iPod, video, Safari (internet), mail, photos, but the main one that was new to me was the camera function. I had not used an iPad with a camera before, and this has 2 cameras. One is front facing and a 5megapixel camera facing out on the front of the device. Now, 5megapixel doesn't sound like a lot - with most mobile phones being higher than that these days - but its the quality of the camera that gives it the edge, plus photos displayed on the retina display. The addition of the camera was a big plus for me.Whilst not something I would use a lot, it felt missing from the first iPad and I have made some use from this camera - its just nice to have an additional camera to hand when you are out and about. As I don't use Facetime (Apple patented video calling service) I have made minimal use with the front camera, but like the idea I have a Facetime ready device - with the main reason I don't use Facetime being I don't know enough other people that use it.
I found when I synced my Ipad with my Itunes on my PC - some, not all, of the Apps I had previously paid for synced as well, so was happy to see Pages and Numbers arrive back, two Apps that I was hoping to make more use of this time around (Apples tablet version of Word and Excel) as I found both feature full and fairly straightforward to use. My only gripe was that typing was a little clunkly and didn't feel natural on an iPad - and to be honest, still doesn't to me. The way the keyboard sits and how you have to position your hands, plus it not being physical takes some getting used to and even when you are it puts strain on your wrists and fingers after only 30 minutes or so - the stain you'd feel with a physical keyboard after hours of use. This is slightly outweighed by how crisp and smooth these, and pretty much all apps are with the combination of Retina display and the upgraded processor. Apple boast its the most powerful tablet device around and using the device casually makes subtle hints at this - with the screens flowing effortlessly and apps opening almost before you have clicked them , webpages opening quickly, smooth and almost shockingly nice to look at. That is where most of the upgraded processing power works its magic - making the everyday functions super smooth and effortless - with gaming becoming more and more powerful on this device. I'm not much of a gamer when it comes to mobile device - a quick blast on Temple Run maybe, the serious gaming needs a control pad, a big TV and deep gameplay so its left to the PS3.I've found quirky, quick games are more fun on iPad, and there is no shortage of these on the Apple Store - some paid, some free - and on the Ipad3 they play smoother, cleaner and quicker than ever - something I never thought I'd say after I first played Angry Birds on an Ipad and was blown away by how responsive everything was. Well, on this its quicker, smoother and as a result a richer, if not still simple gaming experience. Again, another point for 'fun' over 'a bit useless' here.
The processor shines in other areas - but you get the whammy of a decent processor and the Retina display when watching video on this. I usually watch a lot of TV and films in bed on my laptop - via Iplayer and Netflix - but the iPad is now my go-to device, with its just being a nicer experience. The screen is a little smaller than my laptop but the beautiful screen on the iPad and the speed it connects to my WiFi greatly outweigh this. Again, another point for fun.
A quick note on battery life - whilst I charge this every night, I don't always need to. It will go a day easily using WiFi and begin to run down after a day of 3G - but whilst the device is 'resting' it can go without a charge for 3-4 days. So, unless you are planning a trip to Mars, this will easily last any journey between power points. Also, this device boasts 4G - something we don't have in the UK yet, and not for a few years - but its 4G ready non-the-less, with 4G being what will eventually replace 3G making mobile browsing much faster.
After a almost a month with this - I'm impressed. Without any super huge changes most predicted Apple have taken themselves further into revolutionary territory and I'm glad I've given the iPad another go. Yes, its still a bit useless and pretty much all word processing is done on my laptop - I'm using the iPad3 much more for browsing and watching video, and with 3G its a really useful device out and about - well, maybe not useful, but much more fun that a phone I'll opt for the iPad to make a quick search rather than my phone, despite the iPad not being the pocket sized go-to device my phone usually is.
The iPad comes in 16g, 32g and 64g formats and prices start if you're looking to buy outright at £399. I would recommend to anyone looking for very fun, and just functional enough to be worthwhile portable device that is a pleasure to use.
Due to the nature of my job (techy), work always like us to have the latest technological releases when they come out so I have been fortunate to own an iPad1, iPad2 and now a 'new iPad' (for the purposes of the review, I'll call it an iPad3). The iPad3 was launched in March 2012 and although I wasn't one of the first to own it, I have now owed it for around 8 weeks so can give a good overview of the product. The iPad3 can be WiFi (which means you have to have a wireless connection for the internet to work, so something like your home hub would be fine, but as soon as you went outside of your house, you would have to find a Wifi connection for it work). This is typically the cheaper model and comes in 16Gb, 32Gb or 64Gb. The other option is the Wifi+4G model. This means that you would have to purchase a data plan so that you could use the internet anywhere where there is a 3G signal (most places in the UK except rural areas have a semi-strong 3G signal). I'll come onto the 4G later in the review. The Wifi+4G also has 16Gb, 32Gb or 64Gb of space.
==What is an iPad?==
Unless you have been living in a bubble for the past three years, you will know that an iPad is Apple's version of a tablet computer. What does that mean? A tablet computer is the size of a typical notebook which is sort of like a digital version of the Victorian slate. It is very transportable and has around 80% of the functionality of a standard desktop computer. The beauty of the tablets and the iPad in particular is that they are very light so really good for travelling and for business folk. iPads are touch-screen which make them very easy to use. Apple have a way of making their software extremely intuitive and it becomes readily obvious what you need to do next in order to move from one app to the next. The iPad 3 is no exception, it is extremely intuitive and very very easy to use. The touch-screen gestures and typing on a touch screen may take a little longer to pick up if you are used to a desktop or laptop. You can get e-mail, browse the web, check Facebook, Tweet to friends, edit documents, geotag photos, take photos and video and just about anything you can possibly think of.
==3G or Wifi?==
I have owned both a WiFi iPad and a WiFi+3G iPad and must say I prefer the flexibility of the 3G due to the travelling I do for work. I can typically use my 3G-enabled iPad on the train which I find quite useful. However, in my opinion, if you don't travel a lot for work and will only use the iPad at work or at home, there is no point spending the additional ~£100 to purchase the 3G functionality.
==What about 4G?==
The new iPad boasts 4G capability. Except in the UK we are not anywhere near being ready to use 4G on the mobile networks (heck, lots of places even struggle with 3G). As Apple are an American company, the 4G boast was definitely made with their home-country in mind. America is much closer to widespread 4G networks than we are in the UK. What's the deal with 4G anyway? Well currently 3G has a slower connection capability than WiFi (I guess it is a bit like dial-up for mobile phones/tablets), 4G will be like broadband for phones/tablets which is why it is big news. In my professional opinion, 4G won't be widespread in the UK for at least 3 years with London being the first city to get it (trials have already taken place there). So really how much better is the iPad3 at connecting than the iPad2? In a word, it is not better at all, it is just 4G ready (as per the HD ready televisions)...but in my opinion, by the time we are ready for 4G here in the UK, it'll be time to buy an iPad6. Don't upgrade to an iPad3 for the 4G capabilities it has no effect here in the UK.
==How much space do I need?==
Space is an interesting concept on the iPad and it depends on what you want the iPad for. If you have hundreds of mp3s and videos and want to store them all on your iPad, it's definitely time to buy a 64Gb iPad. I have only ever had a 16Gb iPad as I don't store music on there, just PDFs, lots of apps (100 maybe), some data, few hundred pictures. At this moment in time for me a 16Gb capacity is more than plenty, plus if it gets full it makes me sort out some of the rubbish that is on it.
The camera and video have had a good upgrade from the iPad2. The camera is now 5Megapixel which puts it in line with other standard hand-held cameras. It also has video stabilisation and recording in 1080p which basically means a HD video. The quality is really good for such a non-specialist tool. For me, the iPad is a bit clunky to take photographs and video on but now that iMovie is on the iPads (a video editing tool) there may be a chance that more video will be recorded using iPads. I'm glad Apple made this upgrade but mainly for the photos. I still find it awkward to record video with such a huge device. The iPhone is much, much better for that.
==The retina display==
I happen to think that the iPad is pretty slick-looking as it was before the screen had an upgrade to the retina display. I personally wouldn't pay the money to upgrade from an iPad2 just for the retina display but having it does make you spoiled as you do start to notice the difference. I had the retina display on my iPhone and noticed the difference between that an the iPad2. However, retina display is not necessary, but it is an nice addition and if the iPad4 didn't have it on, I'm certain I'd notice a difference now.
No it isn't Siri and no it isn't very good. The latest update to the iPad is voice dictation but it is not as accurate as Siri on the iPhone (which has its own problems regularly) and irritatingly can't be used when there isn't a WiFi or 3G signal (not sure why!). Voice dictation is definitely not a reason to upgrade to an iPad3. I never use it now after realising how poor it is.
The battery life on all of the iPads I have had has been extremely good. The ipad3 is no better than the ipad2, nor does it need to be. Unlike the iPhone, the iPad isn't typically used for phone calls, doesn't waste battery searching for mobile signals and because mine is only occasionally hooked up to 3G, it quietly uses battery very slowly. My iPhone needs charging daily, the iPad I use a lot less but Apple says it has 10 hours battery life and I'd say they were pretty right with that. If i used my ipad all day it woukd need charging daily, Reading books and browsing the web doesn't use much battery so I charge mine once or twice a week. What I do like is that the battery holds its charge very well when it isn't in use ( and just in sleep mode). To conserve battery further, just switch it off.
==iPad2 or iPad3?==
As the iPad2 has now come down in price, I can't find enough good things about the iPad3 to suggest you should spend £100+ more on the iPad3. In terms of functionality the iPad2 does everything the iPad3 does, essentially for me, the iPad3 just records better videos and takes better photos (everything my iPhone or digital camera does). iPad3 is significantly better than iPad1, but so is iPad2. Save your pennies and buy an iPad2. Unless the iPad4 has something significant (and I wouldn't even say Siri is significant), I may not upgrade to the iPad4. However, it still gets 4 stars because it is an amazing device (just not £100 better than the iPad2).
Thanks for taking the time to read. If you have any questions please message me!...and just to clarify I absolutely love my iPad2 and iPad3, just don't think this is worth the extra bit of cash yet. 99% of people would be more than overjoyed with an iPad2.