Updated December 18th, 2015.
Apple introduced the new iPad (and that’s what they call it– “the new iPad”) a couple of days ago. It looks a lot like the previous model, the so-called “iPad 2.” I think they could have called the new one “iPad 2.5” or something like that because of the many similarities. Basically, the new iPad is faster, has a better screen, has a better camera, has faster wireless networking, and can take dictation. With the exception of “can take dictation” these are simply upgrades, not anything really new. Yes, these upgrades make the iPad even better, but no, there wasn’t anything wrong with the iPad 2. Here’s Apple’s page showing the new iPad’s features. Try the Retina Display experiment.
The prices of “the new iPad” match the prices of the iPad 2 that it replaces: $499 for 16 GB with WiFi only at the low end, and $829 for 64 GB with WiFi and either AT&T or Verizon at the high end. You get more in the new iPad than you’d have gotten for the same money a few days ago.
Turns out the iPad 2 isn’t going away. You can still get the base model, but now it’s $399. Remember, two days ago this was the best thing ever invented, so don’t feel as if you have to spend another $100 to get the new one.
Here’s an excellent page by Apple, comparing the new iPad to the iPad 2. One surprise: the new iPad is a little bit thicker, and a little bit heavier, than the iPad 2. I think the thickness comes from the new and improved screen.
Here’s another surprise: the new iPad does NOT have Siri, the terrific talk-to-it assistant that is part of the iPhone 4S. Dictation is nice, but that’s not Siri. That’s just dictation.
Of course the big question is, “should I buy one?” I think it depends. For most iPad 2 owners, there’s probably no need to get the new iPad. For people who have an original iPad, I think this new iPad is better enough that it might be worth taking the plunge. People who don’t have an iPad face an interesting choice: the iPad 2, now reduced to $399, or the new iPad for $499. (You can get a refurbished iPad 2 for $349– here’s a link to the refurbished section in the online Apple Store.)
While you’re spending money think about buying the Apple TV. This little $99 box connects your TV to the internet and it adds incredible value to an iPad, because it allows you to show your iPad’s screen on your TV, through the air, with almost no configuration. Pictures, movies, presentations, games– all of it. Really cool, and it was updated this week. Here’s a picture.
This version looks just like the previous one but it’s better inside, and it can do 1080p video (the previous one did 720p). Definitely worth a look.
All in all the “big announcements” by Apple this week were a little bit underwhelming. They pushed the bar a little higher on the iPads, and on the Apple TV, but there was nothing wrong with the older versions. It’s nice to see constant improvement but I expected more from a “special event.” The new iPad and the new Apple TV are fabulous, and they’re better than the things they replace, but I don’t think these sorts of improvements merit a special event. On the other hand, Apple does seem to know what they’re doing.