iPad 3rd-gen first impressions
So how IS the Retina Display on the new iPad?
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.
The brightness, color, and richness were all great. I'm reasonably sure they brought the display closer to the glass like they did with the iPhone 4/4S Retina Display, but I'm not willing to commit that to the record. The resolution is what brings it home though. Let me put it this way: when I pulled up a nice, high resolution photograph on the iPad 3rd-gen, I genuinely could not tell the difference between what I was seeing onscreen, and a nice, beautifully shot, well-printed, glossy photograph. It was seriously to that level.
It's the best display I've ever seen. Anywhere, period. And it makes a meaningful difference to the experience -- it's not just a spec.
So, is it really heavier? And thicker?
Yes, and yes, it's a little thicker and a little heavier than the iPad 2, and if you used that iPad, it's probably something you'll notice right away. The good news is the iPad 3rd-gen is not so much thicker or so much heavier that you'll really care; my guess is that by day two you won't notice the difference anymore. It's definitely not what I'd call a step back.
How's the camera?
Hard to say for sure because it was a pretty closed environment to test, but it looked great -- as good or better than the 4S camera, from what I could tell. You shouldn't really be shooting photos from your iPad because you look like a huge dork, but if you need to, this rear camera is finally worthy of the iPad.
Should I upgrade?
Man, that's such a personal question. If you have an original iPad, I say sure, why not. If you have an iPad 2 and really love it, then you probably already pre-ordered before I even posted this. If you're still on the fence, I really like Blam's (from The Wirecutter - thewirecutter.com/2012/03/new-ipad/) advice: "if you use your iPad 2 fewer than 10 hours a week, don't upgrade." Seems reasonable. I am personally well above the 10 hours per week mark on my iPad.
Which version should I get?
Unless you're pretty wild with the amount of media you bring with you at any given time, I tend to recommend people get the 16GB version. I'd definitely suggest getting it with 4G, though -- that's something that, when you need it, you simply cannot do without. I'd buy Verizon, but you probably already have an idea of whose coverage is better in your area.