The New iPad: Worth the Upgrade?

Review the iPad 3's new features.

Matt Branhamby Matt Branham

There’s plenty of stuff people do without thinking twice, like sip blistering-hot coffee or back the car over the neighbor’s dog without first glancing in the rear view mirror. When it comes to the new iPad, though, it will behoove the casual tablet user to think twice before upgrading.

The iPad 2 undoubtedly raised the bar for the tablet world, selling more than 40 million of the devices. But Apple’s heavily-anticipated, newborn tech-child may best be summed up as a faster, sleeker version of its already-impressive 2011 model, or better yet, the iPhone 4S of tablets.

In the fourth quarter of 2011 alone, Apple sold more iPads than they did the entire year of 2010, which clearly states that we, as a society, are shifting even further into a digital revolution, where not only businesses, but schools, airports and entertainment venues are also hopping onto Apple’s tablet train.

The number of iPad 2 sales more than tripled its initial model because of its sleeker body, enhanced retina display and faster speed. The new iPad is essentially further improvements in the latter two, plus 1080p camera/video capabilities. The retina display embodies 2048 x 1536 pixels, nearly four times the pixels of the iPad 2, and is so high-def that it makes high-def look like a rerun of the Cheers pilot. Since most videos are not shot in such high quality, a limited number of videos will actually appear so beautifully until the technology of video shooting catches up.

The iPad 2’s A5 chip has been replaced with the new dual-core A5X processor using quad-core graphics, which in addition to 4G wireless capabilities, makes this model a real mobile powerhouse. The new design is faster and visually more appealing than any commonly-used technology our eyes have seen, so users may think it requires an immediate update, but they may mistaken.

The real dilemma herein is that unemployed tweeters and trendy bloggers have everything they need in the iPad 2. Words with Friends, on the other hand, has never looked better on the new iPad, but are these reasons enough to spend the time and money to upgrade?

Companies that rely on efficiency and speed, however, can benefit from the new technology. Airports have begun using iPads in their cockpits and terminals, which are required to make traveling safe and sound. Schools are beginning to implement the devices into their learning strategies, so it’s important to have updated equipment to be effective in teaching. Hell, even Buffalo Wild Wings is making game-changing strides in their restaurants.

A big detail that should not go unnoticed is that production of 32 and 64 gigabyte iPad 2 models have been discontinued, leaving the basic 16 gigabyte devices, which more than likely aren’t practical for professionals who need the extra space.

So should you upgrade? If your business and livelihood depend on being up-to-date, it couldn’t hurt to update considering the starting price is the same as the iPad 2 upon its release. However, if your iPad’s destiny is to lie there and wait for your opponent’s next Scramble move as you and your couch melt into a puddle of greasy cheeseballs together, then it might be okay to sit this round out and build some anticipation for a possibly revolutionary redesign next year.

The iPhone 4S was great for people who previously didn’t have an iPhone, but just like iPhone 4 users, the folks with an iPad 2 needn’t hurry to upgrade, especially since Siri didn’t even come out to play. And who takes pictures with their iPad cameras, anyway?