In my opinion, a tablet is only as good as its apps, which is why the Android tablets simply cannot compete. The apps available for Android tablets pale in comparison when it comes to overall selection and quality; they are just not as compelling in design or usability.
I have assembled a list of favorite iPad apps here. Included is Apple's new iPhoto, which lets you edit photos right on the tablet. Apple's whole new iLife suite for the iPad, which includes iPhoto, iMovie, and GarageBand, all help morph the tablet into a device capable of content creation. They cost $4.99 each, but they're open up the possibilities of what you can do on an all-touchscreen device.
I expect Apple to update its iPad software within the next year. As in years past, that update should be available to all iPad owners as a download. I hope that update shakes up the design of the operating system slightly and makes working in multiple applications easier. Also, a native alarm clock would be great.
Battery Life and Faster LTE
Because the new screen and processor suck more power, Apple has increased the size of the battery inside the tablet, which has had a slight impact on the thickness and weight. The company claims you will net 10 hours of battery life when connected to Wi-Fi and nine when connected to LTE.
I saw just about that on my own tests; the tablet lasted nine hours and 19 minutes when looping a high definition video on Wi-Fi and brightness set at 65 percent. However, the iPad 2 lasted about an hour and a half longer on that test under the same settings. You willl get less juice out of the new iPad, but it still lasts longer on a charge than all the other tablets on the market. Also, when in airplane mode you'd get even more juice, which means the tablet can get you through a flight from New York to Spain and then some.
On LTE, I got more than a full day's use, which is better than other LTE tablets and phones out there. However, that long battery life comes with the price of long recharge times. It took six hours for the new iPad to go from 0 percent battery to 50 percent.
The new iPad is also now available with LTE from AT&T and Verizon. If you plan to use your iPad mostly at home where you have Wi-Fi, this version, which costs at least $130 more, isn't going to be necessary. But if you use it out and about where it may be challenging to find a wireless connection, you'll be happy you opted for the more expensive tablet and monthly data plan.
While testing the AT&T version I have enjoyed incredibly fast speed, even faster than my home Internet connection, with download speeds averaging around 15Mbps and upload speeds at 12Mbps. Sites just pop up; for instance. ABCNews.com loaded in just three seconds. This is in part because AT&T's network is fairly new so there aren't as many people accessing it; however, Verizon's LTE network is also much faster than any 3G network.
After two full days with the new iPad, I switched back to the iPad 2 last night. For the first time, I noticed the hardware – the screen just didn't look as crisp or bright. The text in my Twitter feed seemed dull, the icons on the screen weren't as sharp, and an episode of Grey's Anatomy just didn't jump out at me the same way.
And that's where Apple has done a powerful thing with the new iPad. Even if it's slightly heavier, gets less battery life, and not a complete overhaul of the last generation, the biggest change affects the most important part of the experience. It has altered what meets the eye, spoiling every other screen experience out there.
While I suspect most tablet users won't find the new screen, improved camera, and other additions alluring enough to replace their iPad 2 with the new tablet now -- unless they plan to sell it or pass it on to someone else -- if you are in the market for a new tablet, the new iPad is hands-down the best choice out there. The Android competition simply cannot match what Apple offers in the entire user experience and hardware. Windows 8 shows a lot of promise, but Microsoft hasn't announced when it will be available on tablets. Either way, it's actually hard to imagine the competition catching up any time soon.
Oh, and what does a techie and gadget reviewer like myself opt for after two full days with the new iPad? Well, that new screen is just good enough to make it my one and only bedside tablet.