We won't see full blown reviews until Apple ships the tablets to those same lucky tech bloggers. And, the rest of us won't get to touch the thing until the official March 16th release. But from these early tastes of the iPad, it looks like Apple pulled an iPhone 4S, upgrading but not revolutionizing its gadgetry.
Let's see what reviewers had to say.
Consensus: Retina Display Is Awesome
The display is good as the iPhone's, says Wired's Jon Phillips:
To be sure, the new iPad’s display is drop-dead gorgeous, as well as notably bright. We scrutinized a bunch of high-resolution images pulled from Apple’s new iPhoto app, and found display quality on the new iPad to be sublime. Just one problem, though: All its brilliance notwithstanding, the iPad Retina Display didn’t show us anything that iPhone 4 and 4S users haven’t seen before.
Actually, it's better, counters GDGT's Ryan Block:
Amazing. Seriously amazing. I really love the Retina Display on the iPhone 4/4S, but this feels like a step forward even from that. Not because it's a better display (which it may well be), but because the much larger scale of the screen makes it feel transformative to the experience of looking at a Retina Display and using an iPad.
It goes without saying that the screen on the device is absolutely stunning — while we haven't had a chance to look through every possible app on the new iPad, the retooled stock applications and icons really do pop on the Retina Display.
It makes everything better to look at, adds Mashable's Chris Taylor:
But what I can confirm is how incredibly gorgeous that resolution looks. You can’t tear your eyes away from it. Photos and videos are far more life-like. Games feel closer to reality, too. And books? With a retina display, books seem more attractive on the iPad than in any other format. And I’m not just comparing them to the Kindle, the Nook or the iPad 2; my frame of reference includes physical books, too.
Just, whoa, says Laptop's Mark Spoonauer:
We just picked up the new iPad, available March 16th starting at $499, and could sum up the visual experience in a word: whoa.
The A5x Chip Seems Fast
Everything runs quickly, but so did the iPad 2, notes Slash Gear's Vincent Nguyen:
Performance from the A5X dual-core processor – with its quadcore GPU – is swift, with apps loading and multitasking flipping through with zero lag. That’s pretty much what we’re used to from the A5, admittedly; we’ll have to wait and see how the heavy-duty games hold up, though, when more developers begin to test the limits of the iPad’s abilities.
What seems fast now, though, might end up disappointing, adds Topolsky:
Performance seemed snappy (though we had few complaints about performance on its predecessor). It's probably going to take some time (and serious gaming) to see what the new A5X is capable of.
Philips seconds that, calling it "blissfully zippy":
[W]e found performance in Safari web browsing and Infinity Blade Dungeons to be blissfully zippy. But, again, without some semblance of comparative testing, it’s difficult to comment on what performance bumps, if any, the new processor provides.
Looks the Same, Feels Different
The added weight isn't an issue, claims Nguyen:
Physically, it’s 0.11 pounds heavier than the existing iPad 2, though it’s hardly noticeable. In the hand the brushed aluminum chassis feels much the same as before, but the picture quality is so crisp it looks like a promotional mock-up. Viewing angles are huge, too, certainly on a par with what we’ve seen from Super AMOLED panels in recent months.
Other than the thicker shell, the whole thing feels very familiar, adds Phillips:
At first glance, the new iPad exudes familiarity -- and not just because most of its features were telegraphed via leaks and rumors during the last four months. The new slate’s physical design is nearly identical to that of the iPad 2, and nothing about its Appley comportment screams, “I’m an entirely new tablet!”
That said, it will sell anyway, says The Loop's Jim Dalrymple:
The form factor of the iPad itself hasn’t really changed much. It’s still sleek and light-weight, but with all of the new features this is going to sell like crazy.
We'll See how LTE and Battery Hold Up
Apple didn't allow testing of the new 4G LTE offering, explains Phillips:
The new iPad supports 4G data speeds, but demo units were locked down to Wi-Fi during Apple’s event, so we can’t comment on the 4G experience.
It could suck up battery, warns Nguyen:
That brings us neatly to 4G LTE, and we’ll be very keen to see during our review whether the battery claims – 9hrs of active LTE – pan out.
And, Taylor can't wait to test that out:
As for the 4G speeds and the battery life, which Apple says is still in the 9-10 hour range: these claims will also require more extensive testing than Apple would allow in its hands-on area. We’re looking forward to playing battery-hogging games for 10 hours at a time to properly test it out.